Cape May Natural History Hotline - 8/5/2004

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 5. 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" at the top of any page.

WILD BLACK CHERRY trees are heavy with fruit. It's falling to the ground and attracting butterflies that like rotting fruit and the fruits are also a favorite with 50 birds, including many migrants.

Early fall migrants are on the move! On July 26, observers at the Higbee Beach dike tower counted the following migrants at dawn: 80 YELLOW WARBLERS, 5 N. WATERTHRUSH, 1 WORM-EATING WARBLER, 1 PROTHONOTARY, 3 AMERICAN REDSTARTS, 1 BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, AND 10 PRAIRIE WARBLERS. At the peak time to study fall landbird migrants, Pete Dunne & Louise Zemaitis will teach a Cape May Birding Workshop on "Fall Warblers, Empid Flycatchers, Vireos, and other landbirds," September 1-2. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register. Shorebirds that bred in the Arctic have been moving through since July and their numbers are growing. On August 3, the "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point" walk saw MARBLED GODWIT, WHIMBREL, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, @ 700 RED KNOT, SANDERLINGS, and RUDDY TURNSTONES. At the peak time to study shorebirds Pete Dunne and Richard Crossley will teach a Cape May Birding Workshop on "Shorebirds," August 24-25. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register. To download a registration form for this workshop or the "Fall Warblers, Empid Flycatchers, Vireos, etc." workshop or any other Cape May Birding Workshop, go to NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html

Two other shorebird-rich opportunities include Pete Dunne's "Shorebird Roundup" on Friday, August 13 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and Mark Garland's popular "Birding Delaware Refuges" on Thursday, August 19 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register for either while spaces remain.

The nesting colony on the beach at Stone Harbor Point is a "must see!" On August 3, along with the shorebirds mentioned above, the nesting pair of GULL-BILLED TERNS were seen with 2 fledged young begging for food! There were also 35 BLACK SKIMMER fledged chicks, 2 ROYAL TERNS, and lots of COMMON TERNS. On August 2, a BLACK TERN was attracted to the commotion. 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). CMBO sponsored "Back Bay Birding By Boat" tours, every Sunday & Monday from 10 a.m. to Noon, are a great way to enjoy rails and other treats of the saltmarsh. Call Wildlife Unlimited directly to register (609-884-3100); a portion of the proceeds from the Sunday & Monday AM trips goes to CMBO.

Swallows are gathering on wires. A kayak paddler saw 100s hunting over the offshore waters on August 4 and migrating RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS.

CMBO's gardens in Goshen are a war zone of bickering RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS. There must be at least 30 or more, a mix of migrants from the north and the birds that nested here. Some of the young males from the first nests are beginning to show flecks of red in the throat. Join Pat Sutton for a 1 hour (2-3:30 p.m.) "Buzz About Hummingbirds" outdoor program every Wednesday and Saturday at CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North), 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 maintain your hummingbird feeders; clean thoroughly every few days. CMBO's feeders are emptying every day with all the activity! Also compliment feeders with a wildlife garden. CMBO's Gardens in Goshen offer many ideas. Lots of shared knowledge and advice about creating a "Backyard Habitat" is featured on NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/Index.html

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) is 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 Fridays, 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.

"4th of July Butterfly Counts" have been held across the country in the last month. The Cape May Butterfly Count on July 29 tallied 46 species. Highlights were many, including 3 SLEEPY ORANGE in Villas, 1 WHITE- M HAIRSTREAK, 26 AMERICAN SNOUT, 3 VARIEGATED FRITILLARY, 1 APPALACHIAN BROWN, 13 MONARCH, 26 HAYHURST'S SCALLOPWING, 260 COMMON SOOTYWING, 4 FIERY SKIPPER, 98 SACHEM, 17 DELAWARE SKIPPER, 1 RARE SKIPPER, 24 ZABULON SKIPPER, 493 BROAD-WINGED SKIPPER, 77 SALT MARSH SKIPPER. One unexpected highlight was a WHITE-LINED SPHINX MOTH (size-wise half way between a hummingbird and a hummingbird moth) nectaring in full daylight for a long time.

The Cumberland County Butterfly Count was held August 4 and a sunny, butterfly-filled day it was (after the rains of Hurricane Alex hit on Tuesday, August 3)! Not all reports are in, but a preliminary tally of 47 species tells of a very good day. Preliminary highlights include over 200 SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAILS, 5 CLOUDLESS SULPHUR (immigrants from the south), 1 LITTLE YELLOW (ditto), 12 VARIEGATED FRITILLARY (another immigrant from the south), 1 PAINTED LADY (another immigrant from the south & scarce so far this summer), 45 RED-SPOTTED PURPLE, 3 APPALACHIAN BROWN, 35 MONARCH, 13 HAYHURST'S SCALLOPWING, 25 PECK'S SKIPPERS, 2 TAWNY-EDGED SKIPPER, 1 CROSSLINE SKIPPER, 13 N. BROKEN DASH, 12 LITTLE GLASSYWING, and 3 RARE SKIPPERS.

A WHITE ADMIRAL was seen July 10 along the Tuckahoe River (this is only 1 of 3 modern day records). SLEEPY ORANGES showed up in a garden in the Villas on June 26 and laid eggs on Maryland Senna. On July 19, 10 SLEEPY ORANGES were in this same garden (some newly emerged), others mating, others laying eggs. The fall's first CLOUDLESS SULPHUR was seen in Cumberland County on July 22. 31 species of butterflies were tallied in Buckshutem WMA on July 22. And 27 species in a garden in the Villas on July 27, including 7 SLEEPY ORANGES. 34 species of butterflies were seen along the Maurice River on July 29, including 1 CLOUDLESS SULPHUR, 45 RED-SPOTTED PURPLES, and 23 HAYHURST'S SCALLOPWING. HACKBERRY EMPERORS and AMERICAN SNOUTS were tree topping in a garden in Goshen on July 29. 3 OLIVE JUNIPER HAIRSTREAKS were in CMBO's gardens in Goshen on July 29, as well as a fresh RED-BANDED HAIRSTREAK, and numbers of hummingbird moths (both SNOWBERRY CLEARWINGS and HUMMINGBIRD CLEARWINGS). Every Thursday (10 a.m. to Noon) Pat Sutton leads a "Butterfly Walk in the Goshen Gardens" at CMBO (600 Rt. 47 N). On August 11, Pat Sutton will teach a one-day "Bullet Workshop for "Butterflies." To register call 609-861-0700, x-11.

GIANT SILK MOTHS seen recently include: IO MOTH (July 20) near Rea Farm, IMPERIAL MOTH (yellow & pink; stunning!) seen July 20 at Reeds Beach and another seen July 29 near Goshen, PROMETHEA MOTH seen in Upper Township @ July 28.


A "pup" COYOTE was seen walking along New England Road on July 23, not at all fearful. As the Coyote population has grown the feral cat population has been given some checks and balances, thankfully for the birds.

It has been an incredible summer for BOTTLENOSED DOLPHIN. 100s are in the waters off Cape May and in the Delaware Bay. "Ghost Crabs: The Good, Bad, & Ugly" with marine biologist, Karen Williams (Wednesday, August 18, from 8-10 p.m.) still has room. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 to register.

BEACH PLUM bushes are full of fruit. A few plums are ripe and frosty purple, others vary from white to pink to pale blue in color. IRONWEED, JOE-PYE-WEED, BONESET, BLUE BONESET (or MISTFLOWER), TRUMPET CREEPER, and CRIMSON-EYED ROSE MALLOWS (a wild hibiscus) are all in bloom now!

PURPLE MARTIN colonies in South Jersey have quieted as young martins have fledged and birds are beginning to stage at places like the Maurice River. Be sure to mark your calendars for Cumberland County's "Purple Martin Festival" on Saturday, August 21, when 100,000 might be seen going to roost along the Maurice River, a site where migrants stage before migrating south to Brazil where they spend the winter! CMBO naturalists will be volunteering as leaders during this festival. Call 856-453-2177 to receive Cumberland County's information flyer w/details!

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 Monday, "Mondays at The Meadows" meets at 7:30 a.m. at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard, (2) every Monday, "Life on the Beach" with marine biologist Karen Williams, meets at 5:00 p.m. at the Wildlife Viewing Platform in the Cape May Point State Park for a 2 hour beach walk and seining adventure, (3) every Wednesday and every Saturday, " Birding Cape May Point" meets at 7:30 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park, (4) every Friday, "Sunset Birding at the Meadows" meets at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard at 5:30 p.m., (5) if you're a beginner, join Judy Lukens Sunday, August 8, for "Birding for First Timers" (2-4 p.m.), meeting on the Wildlife Viewing Platform in Cape May Point State Park.

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers hundreds of programs ... many more than those briefly mentioned here. CMBO's SUMMER (June-August 2004) Program Schedule 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

A beautiful exhibit, "Birds of the Seashore" by prominent North American bird artists, is now on display at CMBO's Center in Goshen, Open Daily: 9-4:30 (except Mon. & Tues). 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!

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