Cape May Natural History Hotline - 8/27/2004

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 nest.

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 lingering flowers.

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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/Index.html

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 speed.

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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html

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 spaces remain).

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).


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 Flight."

Observers on the Higbee Dike on August 27 had an excellent look at a healthy COYOTE.

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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html

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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/Index.html 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 609-861-0700): http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

"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!

<< 8/19/2004   9/2/2004 >>