Cape May Natural History Hotline - 9/2/2004

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 updated on Thursday, September 2. 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).

CLEMATIS is in bloom and carpeting road shoulders in and near Cape May Point. This fragrant, white-flowering vine is non-native and very invasive. Don't plant it! NEW ENGLAND ASTERS and SEDUM are just beginning to bloom and drawing in MONARCHS and other butterflies.

The August 31 coldfront brought migrants of all kinds: MONARCHS, warblers, flycatchers, BOBOLINKS, and dragonflies! CAROLINA and BLACK SADDLEBAG dragonflies were the most common, followed by COMMON GREEN DARNERS and gliders, with TWELVE-SPOTTED SKIMMERS mixed in. The airspace over the Pavilion Circle gardens and along the dunes in Cape May Point on September 1 was filled with layer upon layer of gliding dragonflies.

On the songbird front, the warbler show for CMBO's "2-Day Songbird Bullet Workshop" on September 1 & 2 was awesome. Coldfronts (winds from the north and northwest) are the key! A "diversity high" was achieved September 1 at the Morning Flight Project of 25 species of warblers, including 2 residents and 23 migrants! We'd almost have to list what wasn't seen, rather than what was seen. The August 31 Morning Flight Project counted over 5,000 BOBOLINKS as they migrated over. Listen for their distinctive "bob-o-link" call, often sounding more like "blink -- blink -- blink."

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."

There are still openings on Mark Garland's next "Birding Slowly," Sunday, September 12, from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mark will explore one or two areas around Cape May, take time to share interesting behavior and natural history of migrants seen. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register.

CMBO's "Cape May Autumn Hawkwatch" began September 1. The coldfront brought migrating raptors on August 31 and a flight of over 300 on the first day of the official count, 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.

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

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

"Hawks & Owls," an exhibit by prominent North American bird artists, has opened at CMBO's Center in Goshen (600 Rt. 47 North). Stop by and be dazzled. An Opening Reception is scheduled for Sunday, September 12, from 2:00-4:00 p.m., when some of the artists will be available.

The beachfront between TNC's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge and the Cape May Point State Park has been a staging area for shorebirds and terns for the last three weeks. Numbers continue to grow, including 1000s of COMMON TERNS and other rarer terns attracted such as ROSEATE (8/27), BLACK (6 on 8/26), GULL-BILLED (8/28), and SANDWICH TERN (8/28).

CLOUDLESS SULPHUR numbers have really picked up. There is always one in sight (and often two, or more) no matter where you are on the Cape May Peninsula. Many are dashing by, others are nectaring on tubular flowers (like the salvias in CMBO's Gardens in Goshen), and others are laying eggs on PARTRIDGE PEA, a native wildflower. MONARCHS migrated in with this August 31 coldfront and are sprinkled through gardens all over the peninsula. Resident Monarchs are still mating, laying eggs, and dying. Eggs and caterpillars will be found right through October in the Cape May area. CMBO's gardens had a number of eggs and 3 caterpillars on Common Milkweed and Tropical Milkweed on September 2.

HACKBERRY EMPERORS are being seen at the Beanery and in a backyard garden in Goshen where a tree dripping sap attracts them. TAWNY EMPERORS (3), RED-SPOTTED PURPLE (3), E. COMMA, and QUESTION MARK are visiting the dish of fruit in CMBO's Gardens in Goshen (September 2). 26 species of butterflies were in these gardens on September 2, including HAYHURST'S SCALLOPWING. 100s of SACHEMS are in gardens all over the Peninsula right now. This skipper is a confusing id because they're so variable and the males are more orange than the more copper colored females. This southern butterfly has wandered north, as it often does each fall. SNOWBERRY and HUMMINGBIRD CLEARWINGS are regulars in butterfly gardens all over the Cape May Peninsula right now, including CMBO's Gardens in Goshen.

Fall is a great time to plant a hummingbird and butterfly garden or move plants. Sign up for one or both of CMBO's "Tours of Private Butterfly Gardens," while spaces last, to see some of THE best wildlife gardens in the nation! This is a great opportunity to see a variety of garden designs and interesting native plants, and to rub shoulders with long-time wildlife gardeners who love to share and have opened their gardens to CMBO. Friday, Sept. 10, gardens in and near Cape May and Cape May Point will be featured; Saturday, Sept. 11, gardens from the Villas north to Woodbine will be featured. Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to register.

CMBO's Gardens in Goshen offer many ideas. 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.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD numbers dropped drastically after the September 31 coldfront. Many left, though a male was seen September 2 in Goshen. At least four and probable more are still in CMBO's Gardens in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Young males from the first nests are showing substantial flecks of red on their throats. 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.

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

GREAT HORNED OWLS began calling at dusk (about 8:00 p.m.) and dawn (about 5:00 a.m.) about three weeks ago. Being are our earliest nesting bird and a year round resident, the adults are calling now to let others know the territory they intend to use for nesting in January.

Bob & Linda Carlough, aboard "The Skimmer," are seeing 1,000s of shorebirds on the marshes and goodies like MARBLED GODWIT (2 on 9/1), BROWN PELICAN (6 on 9/1), CLAPPER RAILS, and great success on many of the OSPREY nests (young are now flying and feeding themselves) during their "Back Bay Birding By Boat" cruises. Four specially arranged Saturday evening "Sunset Cruises for Fall Migrants" aboard "The Skimmer" have openings: September 11, 25, October 2, and 9. 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 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 scheduled 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) Monday, September 13, "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 hundreds of programs ... many more than those briefly mentioned here. CMBO's FALL Program Schedule is posted on NJ Audubon's web site (and available at either center or request a copy by calling 609-861-0700): 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!

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