CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY AND EVENTS HOTLINE, September 2, 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 Friday, September 2. 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).
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.
MONARCH numbers are exploding! Yes, it's looking like an incredible
year for Monarchs. On August 16, 12-15 were seen crossing the
Delaware Bay by an observer on the Ferry. On August 17, one migrated
high over Stone Harbor while over 100 were in gardens all over Cape
May Point; it was like a great day at the peak of the fall migration.
On August 22, 6+ were migrating south across the open marsh and open
waterways behind Stone Harbor. The CMBO Gardens in Goshen easily have
20 or more 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, where it is easy to find dozens of
Monarch caterpillars and eggs on Milkweed in gardens. CMBO's Monarch
Tagging Demos will begin September 14 and 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.
Other migrating butterflies are also on the move: CLOUDLESS SULPHUR,
VARIEGATED FRITILLARY, PAINTED LADY, SACHEM, and FIERY SKIPPER. These
5 southern immigrants are moving north and repopulating our area.
CLOUDLESS SULPHURS are daily now and today one laid an egg on
PARTRIDGE PEA in the CMBO Gardens in Goshen. Dozens of VARIEGATED
FRITILLARIES, along with Monarchs, were seen moving along the Cape
May beachfront on September 1, and over 100 Variegated Fritillaries
were in a field at Burden Hill in Salem County on September 1. Dozens
and dozens of PAINTED LADIES are in CMBO's gardens and around Cape
May Point; they are now more common than American Ladies, something
many of us haven't seen 1995. SACHEMS are suddenly here in huge
numbers. 1,200 were counted in two fields in Salem County on
September 1. The fall's first FIERY SKIPPERS were seen August 20 on
the Butterfly Bushes at Higbee Beach. A PIPEVINE SWALLOWTAIL was seen
in N. Cape May on August 17.
GRAY HAIRSTREAKS and RED-BANDED HAIRSTREAKS are abundant on blooming
Sedum and Mountain Mint. RED-SPOTTED PURPLES and HACKBERRY EMPERORS
are coming to CMBO's dish of gooey fruit. TAWNY EMPEROR was at Hidden
Valley on August 25. Other butterflies seen this week include: BLACK
SWALLOWTAIL, TIGER SWALLOWTAIL, AMERICAN COPPER, AMERICAN SNOUT,
PEARL CRESCENT, VICEROY, QUESTION MARK, RED ADMIRAL, COMMON WOOD
NYMPH, COMMON SOOTYWING, LEAST SKIPPER, ZABULON SKIPPER, TAWNY-EDGED
SKIPPER, AARON'S SKIPPER, BROAD-WINGED SKIPPER, and SALTMARSH
SKIPPER. Both Hummingbird Moths (SNOWBERRY CLEARWING and HUMMINGBIRD
CLEARWING) and attracted to the same flowers pulling in butterflies,
like Butterfly Bush.
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 Audubon's 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,
hummingbirds, hummingbird moths, bees, wasps, 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 CMBO's Gardens in Goshen and are entertaining
daily. Life and death in the CMBO Garden! Today one caught and
paralyzed a MONARCH in moments while garden volunteers deadheaded the
butterfly bush it was in. In no time the Monarch was wrapped up and
waiting to be eaten. CRAPE MYRTLE is also 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. You'll 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.
There was a big movement of SWAMP DARNERS on August 15. A WIDOW
SKIMMER was seen at Hidden Valley on August 14. A new dragonfly was
documented for Cape May County on August 13, the RUSSET-TIPPED
CLUBTAIL, seen on the Tuckahoe River.
Two very special "Tours of Private Butterfly Gardens" still have
room. A tour of private gardens from Dennisville south to Rio Grande
will be offered on Friday, September 9). A tour of private gardens in
and near Cape May and Cape May Point will be offered Saturday,
September 10. These tours are a great way to get ideas for your own
backyard habitat garden, to see secret gardens full of wildlife
created by working people just like you (without a staff of
gardeners), and to meet kindred spirits! Call 609-861-0700, x-11, to
register or for more information.
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS, mostly immatures with streaked throats,
are still regular in CMBO's gardens, though migration is underway and
adult males have cleared out by August 3. Hummingbird numbers will
dwindle in the next week or so. Don't take your feeders down though!
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.
Stone Harbor Point is a show stopper! 2,100-2,300 BLACK SKIMMERS were
tallied there at high tide on August 29. The breeding colony there
this year has done very, very well. Stone Harbor Point is also an
excellent place to study shorebirds, as their numbers build. Every
Tuesday evening "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point" with Gail
Dwyer, Jim Armstrong, and Mike Fritz meets at 5 p.m. in the Stone
Harbor Point parking lot. Join them and be amazed by this magical spot.
Very special "Sunset Cruises for Fall Migrants" still have room:
September 10 (Saturday) from 3-7 p.m., 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!
The "Birding Two Mile Beach" walk enjoyed 8 SANDWICH TERNS and a PALM
WARBLER on August 28. On August 21, 45 BLACK TERNS and 7 SANDWICH
TERNS were seen there. This walk is offered every Sunday at 7:30
a.m., and meets in the Cape May NWR's Two Mile Beach Unit parking lot
(off Ocean Drive, just south of Wildwood Crest).
Backyard habitats all over the Cape are pulling in migrants including
many AMERICAN REDSTARTS. ORIOLES entertained in one backyard as they
stole nectar from TRUMPET CREEPER flowers by poking holes in the side
of the flowers. One backyard habitat in North Cape May with a brand
new dripper had it christened by a CANADA WARBLER on September 1.
An adult COMMON BLACK-HEADED GULL was at Bivalve on August 23. An
amazing flock of 30 HUDSONIAN GODWIT flew of the Cape May Point State
Park heading south on August 16.
Nine 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 CMBO's many preregistration programs go to:
"Back Bay Boat Cruises" are offered every Sunday and Monday (10 a.m.
to Noon on September 4 and 5, and then from 10 a.m. till 1 p.m.) and
sponsored by CMBO. To register for the cruises call "The Skimmer" at
CMBO's 2005 Workshops are ideal ways to learn. To receive the
workshop brochure call 609-861-0700 or go to: http:
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!