Cape May Natural History Hotline - 9/19/2003

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 Friday, September 19. 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.

September 18, South Jersey survived Hurricane Isabel! Strong winds, lots of rain, super high tides, and some trees downed. But, all-in-all,

not bad. Today, September 19 the sun is shining, strong winds are still

blowing, and unusual birds are already showing up! A BRIDLED TERN was seen this AM at the end of Sunset Boulevard and both MANX SHEARWATER and

AUDUBON'S SHEARWATER were seen from 2nd Avenue in Cape May City.

CMBO's 2nd Autumn Open House program on Sept. 20, will be held on Saturday evening, September 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the CMBO Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Mike Fritz will share "Fish Watching 101." Many of you know Mike as a CMBO Associate Naturalist, keen birder

and on the winning DVOC/Nikon team during many of the World Series of Birding events, but not all know that he is as keen a fisherman and fish

watcher. He's traveled to the Galapagos, Fiji, and many other places to

scuba dive and film the underwater world and assist with various research projects. Come be dazzled! Each Saturday evening in the fall consider dropping in for these informal programs by local naturalists: 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!

Pat Sutton and others on the Wednesday evening "Twilight Watch for Migrating Owls, Bats, & Herons," September 17 (offered every Wednesday,

6-8 p.m., at "The Meadows") savored a dramatic sunset, the leading edge of Hurricane Isabel. Despite strong winds there were thousands of TREE SWALLOWS along the entire inland horizon, dozens of MERLINS dashing about hunting "The Meadows," at least 20 COMMON NIGHTHAWKS silhouetted against the red sky at dusk hawking insects in the strong winds, 2 BATS hunting as it got darker, and 1 AMERICAN BITTERN getting up at nearly full dark.

Right through Hurricane Isabel on September 18 a RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD fed at CMBO's feeders in Goshen. At least one is still in the gardens and at our feeders today, Sept. 19. Continue to leave your feeders up. Now that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have thinned out, to be

alert for odd western hummingbirds. Now through December is when they show up. So, continue to maintain your feeders weekly (clean thoroughly) 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.

The Cape May Hawkwatch, again sponsored by Swarovski Optik, has tallied 5,541 raptors since September 1, including 32 Bald Eagles. Excellent flights on September 16 (2,824) & 17 (1,064). Good numbers of OSPREY, N. HARRIER, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (1,125 on 9/16), COOPER'S HAWK (118 on 9/16), AMERICAN KESTREL (1,189 on 9/16), and MERLIN (276 on 9/16) are coming through now. On your way to Cape May Point be sure to check electrical wires along New England Road and Bayshore Road (where there are still farm fields) for perched (and hunting) AMERICAN KESTREL. 27 were counted at 7:00 a.m. on these wires on September 17. If you're keen to learn your raptors join CMBO's seasonal interpretive naturalists

up on the hawkwatch (all day every day), but also consider attending one

or several of the "Hawk ID Mini-Workshops," 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.

MONARCHS are migrating now and each coldfront brings a new wave of Monarchs to the tip of the Cape May Peninsula. This fall Christine Austin is the intern for the CMBO Monarch Monitoring Project, sponsored by Bushnell Sports Optics. To learn about the project and the monarch migration, join Christine at 1:00 p.m. (meeting at the Picnic Pavilion next to the Hawkwatch Platform at the Cape May Point State Park) for a half-hour "Monarch Tagging Demo" every Thursday through Monday (weather permitting). To view the history of this project go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Research and click on "Monarch Monitoring Project."

A BRAZILIAN SKIPPER was seen briefly in a backyard garden in the Villas on September 16. This is one of a very few Cape May County records for this southern vagrant. Other southern vagrants continue to be seen on the Butterfly Bushes at Higbee Beach's parking lot, in backyard gardens near Cape May and Cape May Point, and in CMBO's gardens in Goshen: CLOUDLESS SULPHUR, LONG-TAILED SKIPPER, CLOUDED SKIPPER, FIERY SKIPPER, and OCOLA SKIPPER. SACHEMS, another southern vagrant, are thick now with 90 in the CMBO gardens in Goshen before Hurricane Isabel. TAWNY EMPERORS were still being seen September 16 at Higbee Beach and in CMBO's gardens in Goshen. An AMERICAN SNOUT was in the CMBO gardens in Goshen on September 17. Some fun caterpillars enjoyed this week include: 2 IO MOTH caterpillars on Shadbush at CMBO in Goshen (9/16), 1 LUNA MOTH caterpillar "on a walk-about" at CMBO's Northwood Center (9/17), and at least 50 COMMON BUCKEYE caterpillars on Seaside Gerardia along the trails at "The Meadows" September 10 and 17. Despite Hurricane Isabel, high winds, and torrential rains . . . today, September 19, the sun is shining and Cape May Bird Observatory's gardens

in Goshen are full of butterflies! Be sure to stop by and enjoy the gardens and the wild butterflies and other visitors attracted to these incredible gardens. Be on the lookout for hummingbird moths too; the one species, SNOWBERRY CLEARWING, resembles a bumblebee.

Dragonflies reported this week from Higbee Beach area include: CALICO PENNANT, BLUE-FACED MEADOWHAWK, SLATY SKIMMER, GREAT BLUE SKIMMER. In CMBO's dragonfly pond in Goshen COMMON GREEN DARNERS are still mating and laying eggs and a TWELVE-SPOTTED SKIMMER is still territorial!

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." 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 the 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 through the fall.

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. 14 enjoyed YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, WHIMBREL, CASPIAN TERN, and lots of other goodies! 14 species of warblers (including Cape May & Prothonotary) were seen at Higbee Beach on September 16, where CMBO leads a "Higbee Beach Bird Walk," 7-9 a.m.,

EVERY FRIDAY. Other CMBO regularly scheduled walks (not already mentioned) that require no preregistration include: EVERY FRIDAY -- "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.,

and "The Nature of Cape May Point with Mark Garland!," 1:30-3:30 p.m. EVERY SUNDAY -- "Morning Flight" 8-8:30 a.m. EVERY MONDAY -- "Mondays at the Meadows," 7:30-9:30 a.m., "Life on the Beach," 5-7 p.m. with marine biologist Karen Williams. EVERY TUESDAY -- "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island," 5:00 p.m. to Sunset (where 1 HUDSONIAN GODWIT & 5 MARBLED GODWIT were seen Sept. 17). 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. "Hidden Valley Bird Walk," 7:30-9:30 a.m.

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. A "Morning Flight" workshop/watch will be held on the platform every Saturday and Sunday, 8:00-8:30 a.m.

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 "Sunset Cruise for Fall Migrants," Saturday, September 27 (3-7 p.m.), still has room and is a great way to savor herons & egrets, shorebirds, raptors, and more! Two other cruises are also scheduled (Oct. 4 and Oct. 11). Stop by either CMBO Center to register or call 609-861-0700. 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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