Cape May Natural History Hotline - 8/28/2003
You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This message was prepared on Thursday, August 28. For bird news call the Cape May Birding Hotline at (609) 898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotlines can be read in full on our web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" at the top of any page.

On August 24th a nice coldfront dropped the temperatures and triggered one of the fall's first hawk flights. From 7:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. migrants included 15 TURKEY VULTURE, 2 BLACK VULTURE, 20 OSPREY, 2 BALD EAGLES (both immatures), 18 N. HARRIER, 1 SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, 12 COOPER'S HAWKS, 1 RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, 20 BROAD-WINGED HAWKS, 10 RED-TAILED HAWKS, 20 AMERICAN KESTREL, and 1 PEREGRINE FALCON.

On Monday, September 1st, the Cape May Hawkwatch officially begins, again sponsored by Swarovski Optik! CMBO's 2003 hawkwatch crew includes Jason Guerard, back for his 2nd fall as our hawk counter, Bob Diebold, our hawk counter on Jason's days off, and two Interpretive Naturalists, Joshua Lawrey and Julie Tilden. Please welcome them when you visit the hawkwatch!

Also beginning Monday, September 1st, is CMBO's "Cape May Morning Flight Project," sponsored by Carl Zeiss Optical. This new project will document migrant songbirds during the first 4 hours of the day beginning at dawn, from September 1 to October 31. To witness this amazing flight, walk the gravel road to the right just before the final parking lot at Higbee Beach. Follow the road to "the dike" and join observers on the small observation tower just before the parking lot at the end of this road by the jetty. Michael O'Brien is CMBO's Morning Flight counter. Chris Vogel, our Interpretive Naturalist at the Morning Flight, will be at the viewing tower every Saturday and Sunday morning from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m., beginning September 6, to help visitors understand and enjoy the morning flight.

Yes it's late August . . . summer, some think. But migrants are on the move! Coldfronts now are responsible for big movements of E. KINGBIRDS (the Morning Flight tallied 1,200 on August 24), 1,000s of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, dozens of orioles, and 100s of BOBOLINKS. The Bobolinks are heard more than they're seen, their call "Bob-o-link, Bob-o-link" floats down as an abbreviated "blink," "blink," "blink." DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS are beginning to move, flock after flock through the day. Their sloppy "V" formation is often mistaken for Canada Geese, but the geese don't migrate till much later in the fall. Warblers, flycatchers, and vireos are moving through now too, including lots of goodies this past week on nearly all the CMBO walks and around the Northwood Center in the trees and at the mister on August 27. 18 and 19 species of warblers were enjoyed at Higbee Beach on August 24 and 25. Today, August 28, did not disappoint either with CHESTNUT-SIDED, WILSON'S, MAGNOLIA, GOLDEN-WINGED, CANADA, and CAPE MAY WARBLER, to name a few.

CMBO's regularly scheduled walks that require no preregistration are terrific opportunities to witness this migration unfolding. EVERY FRIDAY -- "Sunset Birding at the Meadows," 5:30-dusk, and "Higbee Beach Bird Walk," 7-9 a.m. EVERY SATURDAY -- "Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm," 7:30-9:30 a.m. EVERY SUNDAY -- "Birding Two Mile Beach," 7:30-9:30 a.m. EVERY MONDAY -- "Mondays at the Meadows," 7:30-9:30 a.m., where a SORA RAIL is being seen. EVERY TUESDAY -- "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island," 5:00 p.m. to Sunset, where this summer's very successful beach nesting colony is still active with thousands of COMMON TERNS and BLACK SKIMMERS, a handful of LEAST TERNS (due to predation and flooding), PIPING PLOVER (including some migrants), and AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS and their growing chicks. EVERY WEDNESDAY -- " Birding Cape May Point," 7:30-9:30 a.m. EVERY THURSDAY -- "Hidden Valley Bird Walk," 7:30-9:30 a.m. and "Birding For First Timers," 1-3 p.m., perfect for newcomers to birding. Too, there's still room on the "Late Summer Birding in Cape May" with Mark Garland on Saturday, August 30, 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (call 609-861-0700, x-11 to sign up or stop by either center).

A HUMPBACK WHALE was seen from the Cape May Lewes Ferry, just off Lewes, Delaware, on August 26 and 27. Every Monday, marine biologist Karen Williams will lead CMBO's 2-hour (no preregistration required) "Life on the Beach" walk, meeting on the Wildlife Viewing Platform ("Hawkwatch") at 5:00 p.m. and exploring the tidal strand at the Cape May Point State Park to examine the great variety of life found there, from crustaceans and fishes to birds overhead. There will be some seining; wear a swim suit if you want to help with the net!

Cumberland County's 2nd Annual Purple Martin Festival on Saturday, August 23, was a smashing success. The evening flight of PURPLE MARTINS was awesome! 100,000 were estimated coming into the roost, with another 25,000-30,000 TREE and BARN SWALLOWS. It all happened at dusk, between 7:30 and 7:55 p.m. Between that period thousands upon thousands of martins and swallows flew in from all directions to the Maurice River and roosted in phragmites on the west side of the river, just north of the Maurice River bridge (into Mauricetown). This gathering will be short lived, so treat yourself in the next week or so and let us know what you see.

The RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD show at the CMBO Center in Goshen is still astounding, with 30-40 or more! They are coming to the CORAL HONEYSUCKLE, CARDINAL CLIMBER on the pergola, BUTTERFLY BUSHES, TROPICAL SAGE planted around the pergola, BLUE & BLACK SALVIA in pots on the back deck, and of course to the feeders too, all 6 of them are being emptied daily! Migrants from the north are arriving in waves and added to the mix of residents. Treat yourself to good looks and lots of learning about hummingbirds by attending CMBO's final "The Buzz About Hummingbirds" Friday, August 29, from 2:00-3:30 PM at CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Visit soon. They'll soon be gone, most leaving in early September. Remember to keep your feeders fresh! Clean, wash, and refill at least every 2-3 days in this heat! CMBO carries HummZinger feeders, which are one of the easiest feeders to clean, very well-thought out, and even educational (including directions for the correct feeding solution). Stop by & check them out.

On the butterfly front, lots is happening too! MONARCHS, from New England and Canada, are definitely moving through Cape May County right now. Gardens filled up with Monarchs on August 14, and each day since. Any road trip encounters individuals crossing the roads. Yet our local Monarchs are still mating, laying eggs on Common Milkweed in CMBO's garden and many other sites, and dying. Their eggs may become the final generation that migrates. An OCOLA SKIPPER, a vagrant from the south, was seen at Reeds Beach on August 24. APPALACHIAN BROWNS were seen this week at Hidden Valley on August 25 and at the Beanery on August 24. WHITE M HAIRSTREAK was seen at Higbee Beach on August 24 and in CMBO's Gardens in Goshen on August 23. And a briefly glimpsed flyover butterfly at Higbee Beach on August 24 "did not compute" and looked most like an ORION, Historis odius, (known from Mexico and points south). Any site with Hackberry trees (like the parking lot and fields at Higbee Beach and the gardens around the CMBO Northwood Center) right now is a hotspot for the species that lay their eggs on this tree: AMERICAN SNOUT, QUESTION MARK, HACKBERRY EMPEROR, and TAWNY EMPEROR. CMBO's wildlife gardens in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) continue to amaze . . . clouds of butterflies and busy, buzzing hummingbirds everywhere you look. There are easily hundreds of butterflies in the gardens and we continue to easily see 25-30 different species on a daily basis. Highlights include: lots swallowtails, WHITE M HAIRSTREAK (fresh on Aug. 23), GRAY and RED-BANDED HAIRSTREAK, 5 VARIEGATED FRITILLARY on August 23 (and a chrysalis on the building), PEARL CRESCENT, QUESTION MARKS, 25 AMERICAN LADY (and their caterpillars on Sweet Everlasting), RED ADMIRALS, COMMON BUCKEYE; RED-SPOTTED PURPLE, HACKBERRY EMPEROR, and 4 TAWNY EMPEROR (all coming to our dish of gooey fruit on August 27), a dozen plus MONARCHS (and eggs and caterpillars on our Common Milkweed), 15 SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPERS, COMMON SOOTYWING, SWARTHY SKIPPER, SACHEM, ZABULON SKIPPERS, freshly emerged AARON'S SKIPPERS, and 25 SALTMARSH SKIPPERS. SNOWBERRY CLEARWINGS (the hummingbird moth that resembles a bumblebee) are numerous too in the gardens.

If you are keen on butterflies and gardens that successfully attract them consider signing up for TWO very special "Tours of Private Butterfly Gardens" that will be led by Pat Sutton: (1) a tour on Friday, September 12, will visit gardens in Cape May County from Villas to Woodbine, and (2) a tour on Saturday, September 13, will visit gardens in and near Cape May and Cape May Point. Each tour is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Expect to learn of new plants, savor great garden designs, and meet kindred spirits who are generously welcoming us into their private gardens. Call 609-861-0700 to register. Another way to learn (and HELP at the same time) is by joining Karen Williams every Friday (9:30 a.m.-Noon) for a "Garden Maintenance Workshop" at the CMBO center in Goshen. Plant divisions are often delightful payment for your labor and having a chance to learn so much from Karen as you work.

FOUR-SPOTTED PENNANT, a rarity from the south, continues to be seen in the Cape May area with one seen at Lily Lake on September 24. A major movement of dragonflies occurred on August 24, with probably thousands involved: COMMON GREEN DARNER, SWAMP DARNER, CAROLINA SADDLEBAG, BLACK SADDLEBAG, WANDERING GLIDER, BLUE DASHER, TWELVE-SPOTTED SKIMMER, PAINTED SKIMMER. A beautiful COMET DARNER was seen at Hidden Valley on August 21. Other dragonflies enjoyed recently at Higbee Beach, the Pavilion Circle Gardens, and the Meadows include: GREAT BLUE SKIMMER, HALLOWEEN PENNANT, E. PONDHAWK, E. AMBERWING, as well as the above migrants! CMBO's dragonfly pond in Goshen is another excellent spot for close and personal dragonfly study with BLUE DASHERS, TWELVE-SPOTTED SKIMMER, EASTERN AMBERWING, COMMON GREEN DARNER, BLACK SADDLEBAGS AND CAROLINA SADDLEBAGS.

If you're anxious to learn butterflies (and a bit about gardening too), join Pat Sutton each Wednesday, through mid-October (10:00 a.m. to Noon), at the Cape May Bird Observatory Center in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North) for a "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk in CMBO's Gardens" and each Thursday, through mid-October (10:00 a.m. to Noon), at Pavilion Circle Gardens in Cape May Point for a "Butterfly Walk at Cape May Point." There is still room on CMBO's "3-Day Bullet Workshop: Butterflies, Dragonflies, and Wildlife Gardens" Friday through Sunday, September 5-7, with Pat Sutton and Jim Dowdell. Call 609-861-0700 to register.

Gardeners, be sure to check out CMBO's selection of special hummingbird and butterfly garden plants FOR SALE this week at the CMBO Center in Goshen. The selection includes the following perennials: New England Aster, Boltonia, Pine Barrens Blazing Star or Gayfeather, Cardinal Flower, Wild Columbine, Nodding Onion, Catmint, Joe-pye-weed, Common Milkweed (while supply lasts!!! -- Monarchs readily lay their eggs on this plant), Sweet Everlasting; vines: Coral Honeysuckle (a hummingbird magnet!); the following shrubs: Buttonbush, Elderberry, Arrowwood Viburnum, and Spicebush, and the following trees: Red Cedar, Tulip Tree.

Take advantage of clear nights to treat yourself to MARS at its closest to Earth! Astronomers share that no one alive today will ever see this again.

Shorebirds are migrating through in big numbers now. And heron and egret colonies are still busy places. A great way to savor the normally inaccessible back bay marshes is to join Captain Bob Carlough on one of the CMBO sponsored "Back Bay Birding By Boat" cruises aboard "The Skimmer," every Sunday and Monday (10:00 a.m. to Noon). Call Wildlife Unlimited (609-884-3100) to register for these CMBO-sponsored trips.

Some special programs (in addition to those already mentioned) that do require preregistration because spaces are limited follow: (1) "Fundraising Garden Brunch" on Sunday, September 7 (10 a.m.-Noon), (2) "Birding Slowly" on Sunday, September 14 (7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), (3) "Optics Workshop" at CMBO Center in Goshen, Sunday, September 21 (1-3 p.m.), and (4) a number of "Sunset Cruises for Fall Migrants" on 4 different dates in September and October.

To learn more about any of these programs or to register, call 609-861-0700. The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular bird and butterfly walks that require no pre-registration and many special field trips and programs for which advanced registration is required. To receive a copy of CMBO's Program Schedule, stop at one of the two centers, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site where a full listing of CMBO's FALL 2003 PROGRAMS (September - November) is posted at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

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!

Patricia Sutton
Program Director
New Jersey Audubon Society's
Cape May Bird Observatory
Center for Research & Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
609-861-0700, x-16 (phone) / 609-861-1651 (fax)

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