Cape May Natural History Hotline - 9/15/2004

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 Wednesday, September 15. For bird news call the Cape May Birding Hotline at (609) 898-2473. NJ Audubon's three hotline can be read in full on our web site (http://www.njaudubon.org), by clicking on "Sightings" (top of any page).

It's the peak of the fall and we're on pins and needles awaiting coldfronts to bring migrating raptors, warblers, flycatchers, monarchs, and dragonflies to us! Coldfronts and their north and northwest winds push migrants to the tip of our peninsula. CMBO's "Cape May Autumn Hawkwatch" began September 1. Tom Magarian is this fall's Hawk Counter and 3 seasonal naturalists will cover CMBO's 3 projects (Hawkwatch, Seawatch, and Morning Flight): Jen Bernstock, Laura Riley, and Jason Starfire. Please welcome them all when you visit Cape May. As of September 11, Tom had counted 1,400 raptors, including 95 OSPREY and 7 BALD EAGLES on 9/10.

One of the ultimate birding experiences is to witness the Cape May skies full of raptors while fine tuning your raptor ID skills with CMBO's first official hawk watcher, Pete Dunne. Pete Dunne and Pat Sutton will teach 3 different Cape May Birding Workshops on "Raptors": (1) "2-day workshop" on Saturday & Sunday, September 25 & 26, (2) "2-day workshop" on Monday & Tuesday, September 27 & 28, and (3) "5-day workshop on Raptor Migration" (with Clay Sutton as the 3rd leader) Sunday through Thursday, October 24-28 (just prior to NJ Audubon's "Cape May Autumn Weekend / The Bird Show"). Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register while spaces remain. To download a registration form for this or any of the other Cape May Birding Workshop, go to NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks04.html

Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. (except October 2 & 3) 2-hour "Hawk ID Mini-Workshops" are offered by CMBO's seasonal naturalists, meeting in the Cape May Point State Park's Environmental Education Building.

1,000s of shorebirds are here now. CMBO's September 11 "Sunset Cruise for Fall Migrants" enjoyed over 300 AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER, 2 MARBLED GODWIT, 7 BROWN PELICANS, 100+ BLACK-CROWNED & 12+ YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS, a very close PEREGRINE, 1000s of shorebirds and lots of other goodies! Three other "Sunset Cruises for Fall Migrants" aboard "The Skimmer" (September 25, October 2, and 9) still have room and will explore the back bay waters from Cape May to Stone Harbor. To register, call 609-861-0700, x-11. CMBO sponsored "Back Bay Birding By Boat" tours aboard "The Skimmer," are offered every Sunday & Monday from 10 a.m. to Noon. Call Wildlife Unlimited directly to register for the "Back Bay" trips (609-884-3100); a portion of the proceeds go to CMBO.

A few young OSPREY from local nests still linger, but the adults left a while ago and many of the young have left by now too. At the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge both SORA and AMERICAN BITTERN were enjoyed on September 13. 2 COMMON EIDER (an immature male and a female) can be found daily between Alexander Avenue in Cape May Point and the Concrete Ship. On September 8 they were observed for an hour feasting on small crabs, tossing them around and around until all the legs came off, at which point the legless crab was gulped down. SCREECH OWLS have been heard calling recently. Even where these birds breed they can be frustratingly silent. GREAT HORNED OWLS are calling regularly at dawn and dusk, declaring to all the area they intend to nest come January! A BARRED OWL was in the woods over the small pond next to the CMBO Northwood Center in Cape May Point on September 13, discovered by agitated songbirds. RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are far and few. One, two, three, or four might be seen at CMBO's Center in Goshen, either at the feeders or in the garden, depending on migration conditions.

Be sure to continue to maintain your hummingbird feeders weekly (clean out thoroughly & refill with fresh solution) right through December, even though Ruby-throated Hummingbird numbers will continue to drop and you may see none during some stretches. The rare, western hummingbirds show up late; question any hummingbird you see in October, November, or December. Many western strays are immatures, so not easily identified. Be sure to call CMBO if you have a late hummingbird at your feeders or lingering flowers.

The MONARCH migration has been nil with the lack of coldfronts, in fact on September 8th our Monarch Monitoring Project biologist, Paige Cunningham, shared that Monarchs that were brought in with the last coldfront had lingered for a week or more. Local Monarchs are still mating and laying eggs. Their caterpillars are thriving in gardens rich in various Milkweeds. CMBO's gardens and another garden in Goshen had dozens of caterpillars, a few chrysalides, and an emerging Monarch on September 11. A number of southern butterflies are appearing now: CLOUDLESS SULPHUR, LONG-TAILED, CLOUDED, OCOLA, and FIERY SKIPPER. It is a very good fall for CLOUDLESS SULPHURS. Dozens and dozens are being seen daily and all over the Peninsula. Look for their caterpillars on PARTRIDGE PEA; one was found in CMBO's gardens in Goshen on September 12. The first LONG-TAILED SKIPPER appeared in Cape May Point on September 7, another on the 11th, and another on the 13th. An OCOLA SKIPPER was seen September 11 & 12 in CMBO's gardens in Goshen, along with a late HAYHURST'S SCALLOPWING, and a CLOUDED SKIPPER. Two OCOLA SKIPPERS were seen on the 12th in and near Cape May Point. 20 FIERY SKIPPERS were in a Villas garden on September 7 and have been seen in Cape May Point & Goshen gardens since. RED-SPOTTED PURPLES and TAWNY EMPERORS are attracted to CMBO's dish of fruit in the Goshen Gardens. WHITE M HAIRSTREAKS have been seen since September 11 in Goshen gardens. Every Thursday (10 a.m. to Noon) Pat Sutton leads a "Butterfly Walk in the Goshen Gardens" at CMBO (600 Rt. 47 N). Every Wednesday (10 a.m. to Noon) Pat Sutton leads a "Butterfly Walk at Cape May Point," meeting at the Pavilion Circle Gardens. Every Sunday (10 a.m. to Noon), Louise Zemaitis leads a "Butterfly & Dragonfly Walk," meeting at the Pavilion Circle Gardens in Cape May Point.

GARDEN SPIDERS (or ZIG ZAG SPIDERS) have been busy mating and laying egg sacks for the last month. One can be found in her web over a window with 4 nearby egg sacks, on the back deck at CMBO's Center in Goshen.

Consider complimenting feeders with a wildlife garden. Lots of shared knowledge and advice about creating a "Backyard Habitat," including an article on "How to Create a Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden," is featured on NJ Audubon's web site at: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/Index.html For four hours, beginning at sunrise, songbird migrants can be seen heading north over Higbee Beach. Having migrated through the night, those that reach land's end in the early morning, round the tip of the peninsula and turn north, follow the Delaware Bayshore, and settle in good habitat further up the bayshore. Identifying these flyovers is a true challenge, but you can learn from the experts every Saturday and Sunday by joining Chris Vogel on the viewing tower near the Higbee Beach dike from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. for the "Morning Flight."

"Hawks & Owls," an exhibit by prominent North American bird artists, is on display at CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North). Stop by and be dazzled.

A terrific selection of hard to find hummingbird, butterfly & general wildlife plants (including BONESET, JOE-PYE-WEED, MOUNTAIN MINT, TRUMPET CREEPER, and CRANBERRY VIBURNUM) are on sale at CMBO's center in Goshen. Selection changes weekly, so stop by often! The current selection is posted on the "Backyard Habitat" pages on NJ Audubon's website: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat/Index.html

CMBO invites gardeners (no experience necessary) to help maintain CMBO's wildlife gardens at the Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Join Karen Williams any Friday (except September 3), 9:30 a.m. to noon, for a weekly "Garden Maintenance Workshop," where you work in the CMBO gardens while learning from Karen about gardening for wildlife.

Enjoy early fall migrants and lingering summer birds by joining one of CMBO weekly walks with local experts, including walks already mentioned and these additional walks : (1) every Saturday, "Fall Migrants at the Rea Farm" meets at 7:00 a.m. in the parking lot on Bayshore Road (not at the Rea Farm produce stand on Stevens Street), (2) every Sunday, "Birding Two Mile Beach" meets at 7:30 a.m. at the Two Mile Beach Unit of the Cape May NWR (in the last parking area on the left in the refuge, which lies east of Ocean Drive just south of Wildwood Crest), (3) every Monday, "Mondays at The Meadows" meets at 7:30 a.m. at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard, (4) every Monday, "Life on the Beach" with marine biologist Karen Williams, meets at 4:00 p.m. at the Wildlife Viewing Platform in the Cape May Point State Park for a 2 hour beach walk and seining adventure, (5) every Tuesday, "Birding for First Timers" meets at 10:30 a.m. in the Cape May Point State Park under the "North Shelter" (the shelter along the exit road out of the park, (6) every Tuesday (5:00 p.m. till dusk) the "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point" walk (with CMBO naturalists who know the area intimately) is a great way to enjoy this unique area (meet in the Stone Harbor Point parking lot at the south end of Stone Harbor), (7) every Wednesday, "Birding Cape May Point" meets at 7:30 a.m. in the "South Shelter" raised pavilion at the Cape May Point State Park, (8) every Wednesday, "Twilight Watch for Migrating Owls, Bats, & Herons" with Pat Sutton meets at 6:00 p.m. at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard, (9) every Thursday, "Hidden Valley Bird Walk" meets at 7:00 a.m. in the small clamshell parking lot on the south side of New England Road, (10) every Friday, "Higbee Beach Bird Walk" meets in the parking lot at the end of New England Road at 7:00 p.m., (11) every Friday, "Sunset Birding at the Meadows" meets at TNC's refuge parking lot on Sunset Boulevard at 5:30 p.m.

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. To receive a copy of our Program Schedule (the Kestrel Express), stop at one of our centers, call the office during business hours at 609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's web site 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. Please report your natural history sightings to CMBO's Center in Goshen at 609-861-0700. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!

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