Cape May Natural History Hotline - 9/12/2005

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 prepared on Monday, September 12. NJ Audubon's three hotlines can be read in full on our website (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (top of any page). This hotline will next be updated on September 22.

The CMBO Northwood Center is again open 7 days/week: 9-4:30. So, now both CMBO Center are open 7 days/week: 9-4:30.

It is the peak of the fall migration! And CMBOs sighting sheets are lengthy for each and every day as observers share all their wonderful sightings. Fifteen different weekly bird walks (requiring no preregistration) are offered now, each at a different birding hotspot! Be sure to go with the experts on one, several, or all of these walks to learn the areas and savor the fall unfolding. For details on each walk as well as CMBOs many preregistration programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

The 3-Day Fall Migration workshop filled, but a special overflow workshop is being taught by Michael OBrien on the same dates: September 16-18, and there is still room. Call 609-861-0700, x-11 for more information and to register. CMBOs 2005 Workshops are ideal ways to learn. To receive the workshop brochure or learn of others this fall and winter, call 609-861-0700 or go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks05.html

Raptors are pouring through too. As of September 8th close to 1,000 had been counted since the 1st, including 257 OSPREY, 41 BALD EAGLES, 68 N HARRIER, 100 SHARP-SHINS, 66 COOPERS HAWKS, 330 AMERICAN KESTREL, 16 MERLIN, and 1 PEREGRINE. Please welcome Tom Magarian back as our Official Hawkwatcher when you visit the Cape May Hawkwatch Platform in the Cape May Point State Park. Our terrific educators this fall at the hawkwatch are Erin Brandt and Kevin Knutsen. They are teaching Hawk ID Mini-Workshops each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October 23 (except October 1-2) from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Cape May Point State Park, meeting in the classroom.

Its looking like an amazing fall for RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH. 174 flew by the Higbee Dike on September 4, along with 187 BALTIMORE ORIOLES, and 347 AMERICAN REDSTART.

Stone Harbor Point is a must see stop! It is loaded with shorebirds, hunting falcons, and the active colony of BLACK SKIMMER! The Stone Harbor Point Walk is offered every Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. until sunset and meets in the parking lot at the south end of Stone Harbor.

Sunset Cruises for Fall Migrants are another way to experience shorebirds feeding and raptors hunting. There is still room: September 15 (Thursday) from 3-7 p.m. and September 24 (3-7 p.m.). These trips explore the back bays and tidal flats for shorebirds, waterbirds, raptors, and more! Call 609-861-0700, x-11 for more information and to register!

Back Bay Boat Cruises,, are offered every Sunday and Monday (10 a.m. till 1 p.m.) and sponsored by CMBO. To register for the cruises call The Skimmer at 609-884-3100.

MONARCH numbers continue to be strong! Every patch of Milkweed (whether it is Swamp, Common, Orange, or Tropical Milkweed) has eggs and caterpillars on it, so the population is still swelling. The CMBO Gardens in Goshen easily have 20 or more Monarchs daily, including both migrants and summer Monarchs (those that are still mating, laying eggs on Milkweed, and dying). This is also true all over Cape May Point. Favorite nectar plants pulling them in include: Butterfly Bush, Liatris, Eupatoriums, and Sedum. CMBOs Monarch Tagging Demos begin September 14 and will be offered daily: Friday through Monday and Wednesday (weather permitting) at 2 p.m. at the Cape May Point State Park in the picnic shelter next to the Hawk Watch / Wildlife Viewing Platform. To learn of the history of the Monarch migration through Cape May go to: http://www.njaudubon.org then click on Research and then on Monarch Monitoring Project.

Other migrating butterflies are also on the move. This week the first LONG-TAILED SKIPPER, COMMON CHECKERED SKIPPER, and OCOLA SKIPPERS showed up. An Ocola Skipper was seen in CMBOs Gardens in Goshen on September 9 & 11 and a COMMON CHECKERED SKIPPER there on September 8. Several Ocola Skippers have been enjoyed in Cape May Point gardens since September 5. A Long-tailed Skipper was in West Cape May on September 8. CLOUDLESS SULPHUR, VARIEGATED FRITILLARY, PAINTED LADY, and SACHEM (also southern wanderers) have been fairly thick for some time.

RED-SPOTTED PURPLES, TAWNY EMPERORS, and HACKBERRY EMPERORS are having a good year and easily being seen in gardens where fruit is provided, like the fruit dishes in CMBOs Gardens in Goshen, where as many as 9 Red-spotted Purples, 8 Tawny Emperors, and 3 Hackberry Emperors have been enjoyed. COMMON BUCKEYES are showing up, very late this year. But their caterpillars were thick on Seaside Gerardia along the center road through The Meadows near the beach during the Twilight Watch on September 7. VICEROYS were in evidence this past week in gardens, at Higbee Beach, and at the Meadows. AMERICAN SNOUTS are flying now and likely to be attracted to Hackberry trees like those at both CMBO Centers.

Both HUMMINGBIRD CLEARWING and SNOWBERRY CLEARWINGS are still flyinig. These two hummingbird moths are often thought to be baby hummingbirds by first time observers.

A big migration of butterflies and dragonflies was observed on September 4 including lots of MONARCHS, CLOUDLESS SULPHURS, PAINTED LADIES, SACHEMS (all butterflies), and CAROLINA SADDLEBAGS, BLACK SADDLEBAGS, COMMON GREEN DARNERS, SWAMP DARNERS, BLUE DASHERS, and 2 12-SPOTTED SKIMMERS (all dragonflies). A 4-SPOTTED PENNANT was seen September 3 from the Hawkwatch Platform. And a COMET DARNER on September 4 at Higbee Beach. A WIDOW SKIMMER was seen September 4 in Cape May Point.

Three great opportunities to learn butterflies include: Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk with Louise Zemaitis every Sunday at 10 a.m., Butterfly Walk at Cape May Point with Pat Sutton every Wednesday at 10 a.m. (both the Sunday and Wednesday walk meet at Pavilion Circle Gardens in Cape May Point), and Butterfly Walk in the Goshen Gardens with Pat Sutton every Thursday at 10 a.m. (meeting at the CMBO Center in Goshen, 600 Rt. 47 North). At the same location, learn about wildlife gardening while helping Pat Sutton maintain the CMBO Gardens in Goshen during a Garden Maintenance Workshop every Friday morning (except September 9 & 16), from 9 a.m. till Noon. For extensive information about gardening for hummingbirds, butterflies and wildlife in general, visit the World of Backyard Habitat pages on NJ Audubons website: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat

Silken webs in trees full of small caterpillars are NOT Tent Caterpillars; they are a spring thing. Right now Wild Cherries and some other trees with webs full of caterpillars are the result of FALL WEBWORMS.

BUTTERFLY BUSH is full of flowers now and covered in butterflies, hummingbird moths, bees, wasps, a few lingering Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and hungry predators like GARDEN SPIDERS (or BLACK & YELLOW ARGIOPE, also known as ZIG ZAG SPIDER) and PREYING MANTIDS. Six large GARDEN SPIDERS (that we know of) have set up shop in CMBOs Gardens in Goshen and are entertaining daily. Life and death in the CMBO Garden! CMBOs meadow in Goshen has dozens and dozens of PREYING MANTIDS laying in wait for their next tasty meal.

CRAPE MYRTLE is in full bloom and stealing the show, sadly. This ornamental attracts 0 wildlife. Try and convince friends to instead plant a butterfly bush which can be an entire garden unto itself from late June until the frost. Youll also want to encourage new butterfly bush owners to dead head them so there is no chance of it becoming invasive in your area. WINGED SUMAC is also blooming and catching the eye right now.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS dropped drastically this week as most migrated south. A few are still regular at CMBOs feeders and gardens in Goshen. Even if numbers drop to 0", dont take your feeders down. Rare western hummingbirds arrive once the Ruby-throats have left. A feeder might alert you to its presence. So, continue to clean and maintain Hummingbird feeders right through the fall. And call us if you have a hummingbird in October, November, or December.

The Cape May Bird Observatory offers an extensive series of regular bird walks that require no pre-registration and many special field trips and programs for which advanced registration is required. All are detailed in the Kestrel Express. To receive a copy of the Fall Kestrel Express (September through November) stop at either CMBO Center, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site: 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 Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties. Updates are typically made on Thursdays. Please report your natural history sightings to CMBO's Center in Goshen at 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)
pat.sutton AT njaudubon.org

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