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Cape May Natural History Hotline - 9/2/2005
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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat

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 FALL WEBWORMS.

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: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

"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 609-884-3100.

CMBO's 2005 Workshops are ideal ways to learn. To receive the workshop brochure call 609-861-0700 or go to: http: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/Cmboworks05.html

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: 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 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!

 
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