CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, September 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
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:
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
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
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:
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
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:
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!
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