Cape May Natural History Hotline - 9/11/2003
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, September 11. 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 FIRST Autumn Open House will be kicked off with an informal program by Pat & Clay Sutton on "Veracruz Mexico's River of Butterflies (and Raptors)" on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. at the CMBO Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Come be dazzled by these winged jewels from the south. Each Saturday evening in the fall consider dropping in for these informal programs by local naturalists: Mike Fritz on "Fish Watching 101" on Sept. 20, Bruce & Laura McWhorter on "Grand Excursion to Alaska" on Sept. 27, Todd Klein & Mark Garland on "Costa Rica Explorations" on Oct. 4, Kevin Karlson on "Stone Harbor Point's nesting birds, 2003" on Oct. 11, BJ Pinnock on "Videos from Australia" on Oct. 18, and Paul Lehman on "Fall Birding in the Bering Sea Region of Alaska" on Oct. 25. Mark your calendars!

It has been a GREAT butterfly summer & it is proving to also be a GREAT butterfly fall. Reports from Atlantic County share that one Port Republic garden is filled with butterflies, 20 species in one hour and a record for sheer numbers of individuals with SPICEBUSH SWALLOWTAILS and SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPERS as numerous as they've ever been. Mixed in were worn TIGER SWALLOWTAILS (nearing the end of their season), numbers of fresh RED-SPOTTED PURPLES (freshly emerged), both hummingbird moths (SNOWBERRY CLEARWING & HUMMINGBIRD CLEARWINGS). Sedum was the nectar plant of choice. TAWNY EMPEROR and HACKBERRY EMPEROR shared a rotten apple.

A coldfront on September 5 and favorable winds through September 8, triggered the first big push of MONARCHS. They were noticed by observers all over the Cape May Peninsula, and at Bivalve and East Point in Cumberland County, and even up near the Delaware Wind Gap in Pennsylvania. Many can still be found in gardens throughout the Cape May Peninsula. CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project has begun in earnest, sponsored by Bushnell Sports Optics! This fall's Monarch Intern is Christine Austin. Christine will be offering half-hour "Monarch Tagging Demos" daily, Thursday through Monday (weather permitting), beginning September 18 at 1:00 p.m., meeting at the Picnic Pavilion next to the Hawkwatch Platform at the Cape May Point State Park. To view the history of this project go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Research and click on "Monarch Monitoring Project."

The same weather system on September 5 that brought Monarchs also caused a major migration of 1000s of dragonflies (looking like "aerial plankton") including: COMMON GREEN DARNER, BLACK SADDLEBAGS, CAROLINA SADDLEBAGS, WANDERING GLIDER, SPOT-WINGED GLIDER, TWELVE-SPOTTED SKIMMER, SWAMP DARNER, BLUE DASHER, and HALLOWEEN PENNANT. A QUEEN was seen in a backyard garden north of the Rea Farm on September 7. This butterfly is normally rare north of Georgia, but is sometimes an irregular immigrant to the coast of North Carolina. This past July a number of them showed up in coastal South Carolina, so just maybe this is a real immigrant that has wandered all the way to New Jersey and not a "wedding release." VICEROYS are being seen this week at Higbee Beach, West Cape May, Cape May Point, the Rea Farm, and Goshen. A GREAT SPANGLED FRITILLARY, normally "uncommon" in Cape May County, made an appearance in the same garden where the Queen was seen on September 7.

Some butterflies wander north in the fall and that phenomenon is happening "big time" this week. The first LONG-TAILED SKIPPERS were seen (West Cape May on September 10 and Cape May Point on September 7). Numbers of OCOLA SKIPPERS are being seen all of a sudden (1 in West Cape May on September 5, 5-7 individuals in Cape May Point on September 7, 2 on CMBO's Cape May Point walk on September 11, and one in the CMBO Gardens in Goshen on September 11); this long-winged skipper is an easy ID if you know what to look for. FIERY SKIPPERS have been seen in Cape May Point since September 6. In the CMBO Gardens in Goshen September 7-9, other southern wanderers included CLOUDED SKIPPER and COMMON CHECKERED SKIPPER. CLOUDLESS SULPHURS continue to wander north and are being seen daily all over the Cape May Peninsula. SACHEMS, also from the south, are building in number in Cape May Point and in Goshen, but have not shown up in big numbers YET as far north as Atlantic County gardens.

Butterflies continue to fill the Cape May Bird Observatory's gardens in Goshen. Be sure to stop by and enjoy the gardens and the wild butterflies and other visitors attracted to these incredible gardens. The North Jersey Chapter of NABA (the North American Butterfly Association) journeyed to these gardens this past weekend (September 7-9) and tallied an incredible 39 species in the gardens and CMBO's wildflower meadow (which is filled with boneset, a delicate white wildflower attractive to butterflies). Some highlights other than those already mentioned include: a PIPEVINE SWALLOWTAIL, 3 different WHITE M HAIRSTREAKS, AMERICAN SNOUT, RARE SKIPPER (very late), lots of butterflies on our gooey fruit (QUESTION MARK, E. COMMA, HACKBERRY EMPEROR, TAWNY EMPEROR, COMMON WOOD NYMPH, RED-SPOTTED PURPLE), and of course the MONARCH show! The two different hummingbird moths can easily be seen in the CMBO gardens in Goshen and elsewhere (SNOWBERRY CLEARWINGS resembles a bumblebee and the HUMMINGBIRD CLEARWING is larger and more red and green).

Learn your butterflies (and a bit about gardening and dragonflies if they are in evidence) with 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." If you are keen on butterflies and gardens that successfully attract them consider signing up for the Saturday, September 13, "Tour of Private Butterfly Gardens in and near Cape May & Cape May Point," from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Stop by either CMBO Center to register or call 609-861-0700. 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. Terrific plants for butterfly & hummingbird gardens are FOR SALE at the CMBO Center in Goshen.

Meet Mark Garland at the CMBO Northwood Center for his weekly "The Nature of Cape May Point" every Saturday, 1:30-3:30 p.m., a great introduction to everything from birds to butterflies, wildflowers to ripening fruit! No preregistration necessary. This weekend, Mark Garland still has room on his "Birding Slowly" on Sunday, September 14 (7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.); stop by either CMBO to register or call 609-861-0700. Marine Biologist, Karen Williams leads "Life on the Beach" every Monday evening, 5-7 p.m., meeting at the Hawkwatch Platform at the Cape May Point State Park and then strolling down the beach. Wear a swimsuit if you want to help with the net. No preregistration necessary.

CMBO's first "Twilight Watch for Migrating Owls, Bats, & Herons" on September 10 (offered every Wednesday, 6-8 p.m., meets in The Nature Conservancy's parking lot on Sunset Boulevard) was not skunked. MERLINS, hunting late in the day, put on a show. COMMON NIGHTHAWKS hawked insects at dusk and when it got a bit darker BATS began hunting. The dazzling show stopper was the thousands upon thousands of TREE SWALLOWS are balling up and swooping down into the marsh for the night in a grand "woosh" at last light, about 7:24 p.m. With the last red glow in the sky the group spotted migrating AMERICAN BITTERNS heading out across the Delaware Bay. The setting sun, the rising FULL MOON, and glowing MARS weren't too shabby.

The Cape May Hawkwatch, again sponsored by Swarovski Optik, is underway. CMBO's 2003 crew includes Jason Guerard, back for his 2nd fall as our hawk counter, and Bob Diebold and three Interpretive Naturalists, Joshua Lawrey, Julie Tilden, and Julie Diebold. Please welcome them when you visit the hawkwatch! BALD EAGLES have been almost daily since the count began on September 1, with 26 counted in the first 10 days of the count. Eleven different raptor species were tallied this week, with OSPREY, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, COOPER'S HAWK, AMERICAN KESTREL, and MERLIN being the most common so far. The season's first RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was seen on September 5. Cold fronts are the key. If you're keen to learn your raptors join the naturalists up on the hawkwatch (all day every day), but also consider attending one or several of the "Hawk ID Mini-Workshops," held every Friday and Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This workshop begins with an indoor session in the Cape May Point State Park classroom and ends with an outdoor session testing your skills on real live raptors overhead. CMBO's "2-day "Raptor Bullet Workshop" is FULL, but there is still room on the "5-day Fall Raptor Birding Adventure," October 17-21, with Pete Dunne, Clay Sutton and Pat Sutton. Stop by either CMBO Center to register or call 609-861-0700 for the workshop brochure.

CHRIS KISIEL, a field assistant with the NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program assigned to the Stone Harbor Point colony of beach nesting birds, reported the following numbers for this breeding summer: 600 pairs of COMMON TERNS raised 464 chicks. 463 pairs of BLACK SKIMMERS raised about 200 chicks. 255 adult LEAST TERNS tried and failed, tried and failed again, as high tide after high tide washed out nests. In the end, they raised only 12 chicks this summer at Stone Harbor Point. Many can still be enjoyed there and a special way to savor it is by joining the CMBO walk, "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island," offered every Tuesday, 5:00 p.m. to Sunset. A "Sunset Cruise for Fall Migrants," Saturday, September 20 (3-7 p.m.), still has room and is a great way to savor herons & egrets, shorebirds, raptors, and more! Three other cruises are also scheduled (Sept. 27, Oct. 4, and Oct. 11). Stop by either CMBO Center to register or call 609-861-0700.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS cleared out with the coldfront September 5 and numbers have dropped in gardens all over the peninsula. Rather than the 40 or so that have been at the CMBO Center in Goshen, there are now ONLY about a dozen, so still treat yourself to a visit & enjoy them. Continue to leave your feeders up, since now that the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have thinned out, we'll all want to be alert for odd western hummingbirds that have strayed east. So, continue to clean, wash, and refill your feeders weekly (as long as the temperatures are cool) and more frequently if it gets hot again. 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.

It's the peak of the songbird migration and there are lots of ways to enjoy it. CMBO offers an incredible array of morning and evening walks, held at all the top birding spots. The "Birding Two Mile Beach" walk (EVERY SUNDAY, 7:30-9:30 a.m.) on Sept. 7 enjoyed MOURNING WARBLER, BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, and WESTERN SANDPIPER! The "Hidden Valley Bird Walk" (EVERY THURSDAY, 7:30-9:30 a.m.) on Sept. 11 enjoyed WORM-EATING WARBLER, N. PARULA, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, GREAT CORMORANT, and lots of other goodies! Other CMBO regularly scheduled walks (not already mentioned) that require no preregistration include: EVERY FRIDAY -- "Higbee Beach Bird Walk," 7-9 a.m., "Sunset Birding at the Meadows," 5:30-dusk. EVERY SATURDAY -- "Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm," 7:30-9:30 a.m., "Morning Flight" 8-8:30 a.m. EVERY SUNDAY -- "Morning Flight" 8-8:30 a.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 "Birding For First Timers," 1-3 p.m., perfect for newcomers to birding.

CMBO's "Cape May Morning Flight Project," sponsored by Carl Zeiss Optical, is underway at Higbee Beach on the dike, every morning from sunrise until four hours later. This is one more way to witness the amazing migration of songbirds. Take 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 and Chris Vogel and Julie Diebold are project's Interpretive Naturalists. Chris or Julie can be found every morning at the viewing tower to help visitors understand and enjoy the morning flight. Highlights of this project over the last week include: numbers of E. KINGBIRD, N. PARULA, CAPE MAY WARBLER, BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, PALM WARBLER, AMERICAN REDSTART, BOBOLINK, and BALTIMORE ORIOLES.

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.

A special "Optics Workshop" at the CMBO Center in Goshen, Sunday, September 21 (1-3 p.m.) still has room. 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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