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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
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!
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)