Cape May Natural History Hotline - 8/8/2003

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 Friday, August 8. 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.

CMBO's "Kayak Trip at Great Cedar Swamp" on Tuesday, August 12, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., still has a few spaces left. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register. This trip will explore a true wilderness right here in South Jersey, far from traffic. Our group will probably be the only people on the water. Cardinal Flower will be in full bloom, a din of Marsh Wrens fill the air, Sweet Pepperbush is blooming, bushes full of ripe Huckleberries and Blueberries hang over the kayaks, River Otter live in the creek, colorful dragonflies and damselflies dot the vegetation, and two weeks ago our first Kayak Trip enjoyed a young Bald Eagle (recently fledged from a nearby nest).

Astronomers have alerted us that this month and next Earth is catching up with Mars, an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The encounter will culminate on August 27th. At the beginning of August Mars rose in the east at 10 p.m. But by the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30 a.m. Mars will grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Apparently no one alive today will ever see this again.

CMBO's gardens in Goshen (600 Route 47 North) are blooming profusely and the numbers of butterflies is bewitching! An amazing 34 species were tallied in the gardens on August 3, the highest number ever in these gardens! Highlights include: lots of BLACK, E. TIGER, and SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAILS (including numbers of Black Swallowtail caterpillars on fennel and Queen Anne's Lace and numbers of Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars on Spicebush and Sassafras), dozens of CABBAGE WHITES, 10 AMERICAN COPPER, 13 OLIVE' JUNIPER HAIRSTREAK (mostly on the Boneset and on the Mountain Mint), GRAY HAIRSTREAK, RED-BANDED HAIRSTREAK, SUMMER AZURE, AMERICAN SNOUT, VARIEGATED FRITILLARY, PEARL CRESCENT, QUESTION MARK (including numbers laying eggs on Hops vine), dozens of AMERICAN LADY (and their caterpillars on Sweet Everlasting), a PAINTED LADY, 10 COMMON BUCKEYE, RED-SPOTTED PURPLE (coming to our dish of rotten fruit), COMMON WOOD NYMPHS in the meadow, MONARCHS (laying eggs on the Common Milkweed), HAYHURST'S SCALLOPWING, HORACE'S DUSKYWING, COMMON SOOTYWING, LEAST SKIPPER, N. BROKEN DASH, SACHEM, DELAWARE SKIPPER, 6 RARE SKIPPER (mostly on the Pickerelweed in our pond and on the nearby Butterfly Bush), AARON'S SKIPPER, 100s of BROAD-WINGED SKIPPER, and DUN SKIPPER. Hummingbird Moths too can be easily seen in the gardens, both the SNOWBERRY CLEARWINGS (the one that resembles a bumblebee) and the HUMMINGBIRD CLEARWING. 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. Two very special "Tours of Private Butterfly Gardens" are scheduled for Friday, September 12 (gardens from Villas to Woodbine), and Saturday, September 13 (in and near Cape May and Cape May Point), from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants will pick up many design ideas while entertained by Monarchs and other butterflies and lingering hummingbirds. Probably the best part of the tours is meeting kindred spirits! Call 609-861-0700 to register.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD activity continues to increase at the Cape May Bird Observatory's gardens & feeders in Goshen. Now that we're well into August migrants from the north are added to the mix of resident adult males, adult females, and young that fledged from the first nest. Each feeder seems to have at least 3 birds competing to feed from it. In CMBO's gardens CORAL HONEYSUCKLE, TRUMPET CREEPER, BUTTERFLY BUSH, TROPICAL SALVIA / SAGE, BLUE & BLACK SALVIA, and ROSE OF SHARON are pulling them in, plus they visit many other flowers for nectar and insects. Treat yourself to good looks and lots of learning about hummingbirds by attending one of CMBO's "The Buzz About Hummingbirds," every Wednesday and Friday (through August 29), and every Saturday (through August 16) from 2:00-3:30 PM at CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Be sure to thoroughly wash & refill your feeders every 2-3 days during this hot stretch of summer. As activity increases you'll find that your feeders will be emptied every other day or so. 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.

CMBO's dragonfly pond at the Center in Goshen is buzzing with activity as they feast on green heads, mosquitoes, and other nasty, biting insects. It's a whirlwind of activity with perching and hunting dragonflies, dragonflies in tandem laying eggs, and nymphs emerging from the pond as winged adult dragonflies. COMMON GREEN DARNER, CAROLINA SADDLEBAGS, BLACK SADDLEBAGS, TWELVE-SPOTTED SKIMMER, E. AMBERWING, PAINTED SKIMMER, dozens of BLUE DASHERS, and SEASIDE DRAGONLETS entertain.

CMBO's PURPLE MARTINS all fledged by August 4 and that quickly are gone. The same has happened at the colony at the Cape May Point State Park. They stage by the thousands at places like the Maurice River before heading to their wintering grounds in South America. Be sure to save Saturday, August 23, when Cumberland County will host its 2nd Annual Purple Martin Festival. Call 856-453-2180 for additional information. CMBO naturalists will be volunteering on boat trips and at the evening viewing site during this event!

Keen on wildflowers? Join Mark Garland on Saturday, August 9, for "Summer Wildflower" (9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), an outdoor learning experience in the Cape May area. Call 609-861-0700 to register. On Saturday, August 23, Pat Sutton will lead an in-the-field "Wildlife Food Plants Workshop" at the CMBO Center in Goshen and nearby areas to teach how to recognize important native trees, shrubs, and vines that are early survival foods for our warblers and other migrants moving through in late August. Call 609-861-0700 to register. If you'd like to learn about wildlife gardening, join 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.

CMBO's selection of special hummingbird and butterfly garden plants FOR SALE this week includes the following perennials: New England Aster, Boltonia, Pinelands Blazing Star or Gayfeather, Cardinal Flower, Wild Columbine, Nodding Onion, Hummingbird Mint, Mountain Mint, Catmint, Joe-pye-weed, Common Milkweed, Sweet Everlasting; the following vines: Coral Honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper; the following shrubs: Buttonbush, Elderberry, Arrowwood Viburnum, Spicebush, Black Chokeberry; and the following trees: Sour Gum, Red Cedar, Tulip Tree.

The OSPREY nest in the marsh next to Jakes Landing Road was successful this year. On August 6 the two young were still in the nest, but nearly full size. The Maurice River nests produced 35 Osprey, down from 60 in 2002.

The Stone Harbor Point beach nesting colony continues to dazzle! Chris Kisiel, a field assistant with the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program, has kept us informed. There are at least 1,686 adult COMMON TERNS (with several hundred fledged chicks and others still growing), 1,068 BLACK SKIMMERS (with chicks hatching now), a handfull of LEAST TERNS (due to predation and flooding), PIPING PLOVER (including some migrants), and AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS and their chicks. So, if you haven't treated yourself, be dazzled and visit Stone Harbor Point!

Every Monday, marine biologist Karen Williams will lead CMBO's first "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 until 7:00 p.m. Wear a swim suit if you'd like to help with the net! On August 4 this trip discovered a larval HORSESHOE CRAB (3-4 mm) and a lot of other cool stuff.

Shorebirds are migrating through in big numbers now, they being our earliest migrants. A great way to savor them 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.

Songbirds are beginning to migrate in earnest, YES in early August. This week at Higbee Beach observers enjoyed the following migrants: YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, N. WATERTHRUSH, PROTHONOTARY WARBLER, BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, 50 YELLOW WARBLERS, ORCHARD ORIOLE, and BALTIMORE ORIOLE. Each coldfront, no matter how subtle, will bring new and bigger waves.

As we get into August CMBO's regularly scheduled walks that require no preregistration expand to offer more and more learning opportunities as migration builds. In addition to the previously mentioned walks, others offered follow. EVERY FRIDAY -- "Sunset Birding at the Meadows," 5:30-dusk. EVERY SATURDAY -- "Birding Cape May Point," 7:30-9:30 a.m. (through August 9), "Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm," 7:30-9:30 a.m. (beginning August 16). EVERY SUNDAY -- "Welcome to Cape May" with Mark Garland, 2-3 p.m.. EVERY MONDAY -- "Mondays at the Meadows," 7:30-9:30 a.m. 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 "Start Birding Today!" with Judy Lukens, 10-11 a.m., perfect for newcomers to birding and nature. .

Some special programs that do require preregistration because spaces are limited follow: CMBO's "1-Day Bullet Workshop for Terns" with Michael O'Brien and Louise Zemaitis on Thursday, August 14; "Optics Workshop" at the Northwood Center with Scott Edwards on August 16; "Ghost Crabs: The Good, Bad, & Ugly" with Marine Biologist Karen Williams on Wednesday, August 20 (7:30-9:30 p.m.); "2-Day Bullet Workshop for (Those $#!%) SHOREBIRDS" with Michael O'Brien and Richard Crossley will be taught Tuesday and Wednesday, August 26 & 27. 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 SUMMER 2003 PROGRAMS (June-August) 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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