CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, August 27, 2004
This is Pat Sutton with the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a
service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This
hotline was updated on Thursday, August 27. For bird news call the Cape
May Birding Hotline at (609) 898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotline can
be read in full on our web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on
"Sightings" (top of any page).
PARTRIDGE PEA, a bright yellow wildflower, is in full bloom all over
Cape May County (and in CMBO's Gardens in Goshen) and attracting
wandering CLOUDLESS SULPHURS. This southern butterfly is wandering
north, mating, and laying eggs on Partridge Pea. One of their
cryptically colored caterpillars was found on Partridge Pea at Higbee
Beach this week. TRUMPET CREEPER, the vine with the large, showy, red
tubular flowers is in bloom and drawing in migrant hummingbirds.
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD numbers dropped this week after the August 22
coldfront when waves of migrants headed out. Ten were seen by one party
at Higbee Beach and Hidden Valley. They are still thick in CMBO's
Gardens in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) and in backyard habitats. Young
males from the first nests are showing substantial flecks of red on
their throats. Join Pat Sutton for the final "Buzz About Hummingbirds"
outdoor program Saturday, August 28, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. -- held at
CMBO's Center in Goshen, where you'll be buzzed by hummingbirds as you
learn all about them, including getting to see and touch a hummingbird
Be sure to continue to maintain your hummingbird feeders weekly (clean
out thoroughly & refill with fresh solution) right through December,
even though Ruby-throated Hummingbird numbers will continue to drop and
you may see none during some stretches. The rare, western hummingbirds
show up late; question any hummingbird you see in October, November, or
December. Many western strays are immatures, so not easily identified.
Be sure to call CMBO if you have a late hummingbird at your feeders or
Consider complimenting feeders with a wildlife garden. Lots of shared
knowledge and advice about creating a "Backyard Habitat," including an
article on "How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden," is featured
on NJ Audubon's web site at:
Fall is a great time to plant a hummingbird and butterfly garden or move
plants. Sign up for one or both of CMBO's "Tours of Private Butterfly
Gardens," while spaces last, to get great ideas for design, plant
selection, and excellent "know how" from long-time wildlife gardeners.
Friday, Sept. 10, gardens in and near Cape May and Cape May Point will
be featured; Saturday, Sept. 11, gardens from the Villas north to
Woodbine will be featured. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register.
CMBO's Gardens in Goshen offer many ideas. Every Thursday (10 a.m. to
Noon) Pat Sutton leads a "Butterfly Walk in the Goshen Gardens" at CMBO
(600 Rt. 47 N). Every Wednesday (10 a.m. to Noon) Pat Sutton leads a
"Butterfly Walk at Cape May Point," meeting at the Pavilion Circle
Gardens. Beginning Sunday, September 5, Louise Zemaitis leads a
"Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk" every Sunday (10 a.m. to Noon), meeting at
the Pavilion Circle Gardens in Cape May Point.
The PURPLE MARTIN roost site on August 21 during Cumberland County's
"Purple Martin Festival" (and since) at dusk was awesome as thousands
upon thousands (at least 60,000+) came in from all directions to the
Maurice River to roost in the Phragmites marsh along both sides of the
river, just north of the Maurice River Bridge into Mauricetown. This
roost will continue for a week or two more. Be sure to bring binoculars
and scan the horizon, since you can not appreciate the magnitude of the
flight with your naked eye. The gathering really picks up about 7:25
p.m.. The entire horizon is darkly peppered with martins. They sparkle
and whirl about on the horizon, settle down into the marsh, rise
abruptly, swirl around, and settle down again, over and over, as more
and more martins arrive. Finally at about 8:00 p.m. the sky is clear of
birds; they have all gone to roost in a very small part of the marsh.
Best viewed from on top of the Maurice River Bridge. Park in the
parking lot along the north or east side of the bridge and walk up on
the bridge, staying on the sidewalk. Be very cautious. Traffic is high
Neotropical songbirds are migrating through NOW! Listen for BOBOLINKS
as flocks pass over, their calls sounding like an abbreviation of
"Bob-o-link" -- more like "blink, blink, blink." Each coldfront (drop
in temperature) brings a new wave! Savor this magical time of fall when
songbird diversity is at a peak by joining Pete Dunne and Louise
Zemaitis for the next Cape May Birding Workshop on "Songbird Migrants
(Fall Warblers, Empid Flycatchers, Vireos, and others)," September 1-2.
Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register while spaces remain. To download a
registration form for any of CMBO's upcoming Cape May Birding Workshop,
go to NJ Audubon's web site at:
Naturalist extraordinaire Mark Garland will lead "Late Summer Birding"
on Saturday, August 28, a five-hour exploration of Cape May hotspots
(7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register (a few
The August 22 coldfront dazzled birders in off-the-beaten-path hotspots
in Cumberland County and in tried-and-true hotspots like Higbee Beach
and Hidden Valley. Several thousand migrants were enjoyed at Higbee
Beach including: BLACK-BILLED and YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, BLUE-WINGED,
YELLOW, CHESTNUT-SIDED, MAGNOLIA, BLACK-THROATED BLUE, BLACKBURNIAN,
PRAIRIE (10), BLACK-AND-WHITE, WORM-EATING, and CANADA WARBLER, AM.
REDSTART (25+), OVENBIRD, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (10+), BALTIMORE ORIOLE
(300+), ORCHARD ORIOLE, SCARLET TANAGER, E. KINGBIRD (200+), TREE
SWALLOWS (100s), and BOBOLINK (flocks of 300-400).
Migrants enjoyed along the RR tracks on Rt. 555 (north of Dividing
Creek) in Cumberland County on August 22 included: OLIVE-SIDED and
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, SCARLET and SUMMER
TANAGER, BLACK-AND-WHITE, BLACK-THROATED GREEN, TENNESSEE, CANADA,
WORM-EATING, PINE, and BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, AND
For four hours, beginning at sunrise, songbird migrants can be seen
heading north over Higbee Beach. Having migrated through the night,
those that reach land's end in the early morning, round the tip of the
peninsula and turn north, follow the Delaware Bayshore, and settle in
good habitat further up the bayshore. Identifying these flyovers is a
true challenge, but you can learn from the experts every Saturday and
Sunday (beginning September 4) by joining Chris Vogel on the viewing
tower near the Higbee Beach dike from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. for the "Morning
Observers on the Higbee Dike on August 27 had an excellent look at a
The beachfront between TNC's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge and the Cape
May Point State Park has become a staging area for shorebirds and terns
over the last two weeks. Numbers continue to grow, including
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, SANDERLING, COMMON, FOSTER'S, and ROYAL (80+)
TERNS, as well as unusual terns attracted to this group (ROSEATE,
GULL-BILLED, and BLACK TERN on August 27).
It's an excellent fall for CLOUDLESS SULPHURS, mentioned above. Some
falls we see few to none. This fall they are being seen all over South
Jersey. MONARCHS were scarce to absent this past summer, but in the
last few weeks have been daily in gardens. Local Monarchs are laying
eggs on Milkweed and dying. We'll continue to find eggs and caterpillar
through October. Migrant Monarchs (these individuals will not mate) are
coming through from New England and Canada. 27+ butterfly species are
still being seen in CMBO's Gardens in Goshen, including a late RARE
SKIPPER on August 26, and lots of other skippers (LEAST, SACHEM,
ZABULON, AARON'S, BROAD-WINGED, DUN, and SALTMARSH SKIPPER).
Hummingbird Moths are being mistaken for tiny hummingbirds (HUMMINGBIRD
CLEARWING and SNOWBERRY CLEARWING). A WHITE M HAIRSTREAK was seen at
Higbee Beach on August 26, a FIERY SKIPPER in a West Cape May garden on
August 26, and HACKBERRY EMPERORS in a Goshen garden attracted to a tree
dripping sap and at Higbee Beach along with AMERICAN SNOUT.
GREAT HORNED OWLS are now calling at dusk (about 8:00 p.m.). Being are
our earliest nesting bird and a year round resident, the adults are
calling now to let others know the territory they intend to use for
nesting in January.
The Cape May Autumn Hawkwatch begins September 1. Join CMBO's official
hawkwatcher and seasonal educators at the Cape May Point State Park on
the hawkwatch platform. One of the ultimate birding experiences is to
witness the Cape May skies full of raptors while fine tuning your raptor
ID skills with CMBO's first official hawk watcher, Pete Dunne. Pete
Dunne and Pat Sutton will teach 3 different Cape May Birding Workshops
on "Raptors": (1) "2-day workshop" on Saturday & Sunday, September 25 &
26, (2) "2-day workshop" on Monday & Tuesday, September 27 & 28, and (3)
"5-day workshop on Raptor Migration" (with Clay Sutton as the 3rd
leader) Sunday through Thursday, October 24-28 (just prior to NJ
Audubon's "Cape May Autumn Weekend / The Bird Show"). Call
609-861-0700, x-11, to register while spaces remain. To download a
registration form for any of these upcoming Cape May Birding Workshop,
go to NJ Audubon's web site at:
Bob & Linda Carlough, aboard "The Skimmer," report 1,000s of shorebirds
(BLACK-BELLIED and SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS,
SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, LEAST and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, RUDDY
TURNSTONES) CLAPPER RAILS, and great success on many of the OSPREY nests
(young are now flying and feeding themselves). Their August 25 trip
enjoyed a MARBLED GODWIT and a PEREGRINE. Four specially arranged
Saturday evening "Sunset Cruises for Fall Migrants" aboard "The Skimmer"
have openings: September 11, 25, October 2, and 9. To register, call
609-861-0700, x-11. CMBO sponsored "Back Bay Birding By Boat" tours
aboard "The Skimmer," are offered every Sunday & Monday from 10 a.m. to
Noon. Call Wildlife Unlimited directly to register for the "Back Bay"
trips (609-884-3100); a portion of the proceeds go to CMBO.
A terrific selection of hard to find hummingbird, butterfly & general
wildlife plants (including BONESET, JOE-PYE-WEED, MOUNTAIN MINT, CORAL
HONEYSUCKLE, TRUMPET CREEPER, COMMON MILKWEED, and DWARF HACKBERRY) are
on sale at CMBO's center in Goshen. Selection changes weekly, so stop
by often! The current selection is posted on the "Backyard Habitat"
pages on NJ Audubon's website:
CMBO invites gardeners (no experience necessary) to help maintain CMBO's
wildlife gardens at the Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Join
Karen Williams any Friday (except September 3), 9:30 a.m. to noon, for a
weekly "Garden Maintenance Workshop," where you work in the CMBO gardens
while learning from Karen about gardening for wildlife.
Enjoy early fall migrants and lingering summer birds by joining one of
CMBO scheduled walks with local experts, including walks already
mentioned and these additional walks : (1) every Saturday, "Fall
Migrants at the Rea Farm" meets at 7:00 a.m. in the parking lot on
Bayshore Road (not at the Rea Farm produce stand on Stevens Street), (2)
every Sunday, "Birding Two Mile Beach" meets at 7:30 a.m. at the Two
Mile Beach Unit of the Cape May NWR (in the last parking area on the
left in the refuge, which lies east of Ocean Drive just south of
Wildwood Crest), (3) every Monday, "Mondays at The Meadows" meets at
7:30 a.m. at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard, (4) every
Monday (except September 6), "Life on the Beach" with marine biologist
Karen Williams, meets at 5:00 p.m. in August (4:00 p.m. in September) at
the Wildlife Viewing Platform in the Cape May Point State Park for a 2
hour beach walk and seining adventure, (5) every Tuesday (6:00 p.m. till
dusk) the "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point" walk (with CMBO
naturalists who know the area intimately) is a great way to enjoy this
unique area (meet in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot at the south end
of Stone Harbor), (6) every Wednesday, "Birding Cape May Point" meets at
7:30 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point
State Park, (7) every Thursday, "Hidden Valley Bird Walk" meets at 7:00
a.m. in the small clamshell parking lot on the south side of New England
Road, (8) every Friday, "Higbee Beach Bird Walk" meets in the parking
lot at the end of New England Road at 7:00 p.m., (9) every Friday,
"Sunset Birding at the Meadows" meets at TNC's refuge parking lot on
Sunset Boulevard at 5:30 p.m.
The Cape May Bird Observatory offers hundreds of programs ... many more
than those briefly mentioned here. CMBO's FALL Program Schedule (and a
link to the remaining SUMMER: August programs) is posted on NJ Audubon's
web site (and available at either center or request a copy by calling
"Birds of the Seashore," an exhibit by prominent North American bird
artists, will be on display at CMBO's Center in Goshen (9-4:30,
Wed.-Sun.) until August 29. The next exhibit, "Hawks & Owls," will open
on September 4. Stop by and be dazzled.
This Cape May Natural History and Events Hotline is a service of the
Cape May Bird Observatory, which is a research, conservation, and
education unit of the New Jersey Audubon Society. Our aim is to
preserve and perpetuate the ornithological and natural history
significance of Cape May. Your membership supports these goals and this
hotline. We detail sightings from around Cape May County, and also
include reports from Cumberland and Atlantic Counties. Updates are
typically made on Thursdays. Natural history sightings can be written
on sighting sheets at either CMBO center or called in to 609-861-0700.
Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!