Cape May Natural History Hotline - 9/22/2005

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 Thursday, September 22. 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 trails at the Cape May Point State Park and The Meadows are temporarily closed due to phragmites spraying. Otherwise the State Park is OPEN and the Hawkwatch goes on from the platform. We will keep you informed as we learn more. There are many other excellent spots to enjoy the fall migration.

It is the peak of the fall migration! And CMBOs sighting sheets are lengthy for each and every day as observers share all their wonderful sightings. Fifteen 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 CMBOs many preregistration programs go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar/calcmbo.html

Some very special CMBO field trips still have room: Giants Among Us: Cape May Countys Biggest Trees on October 8 (10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.), Birding Cumberland (with Pat and possibly Clay Sutton) on October 9 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), Great Egg Harbor River Cruise (with Pat and possibly Clay Sutton & Karen Johnson) on October 15 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), All About Owls Workshop & Field Trip on October 22 (1:30 to 6:30 p.m.), Cape May NWR Field Trip: Delaware Bay Division on November 12 (8 to 11 a.m.). Call 609-861-0700, x-11 for more information or to register.

Several GREAT workshops are coming up. October 1 & 2, Advanced Birding By Ear will be taught by Michael OBrien, coauthor of the multimedia CD-Rom, Flight Calls of Migratory Birds. Pete Dunne and Pat Sutton will teach 2 raptor workshops: (1) Raptors I: Falcons, Accipiters, Osprey on September 24 & 25, (2) Raptors II: Buteos, Eagles, and Great Diversity on October 26-27. Waterfowl with Michael OBrien & Louise Zemaitis on November 25 & 26. CMBOs 2005 Workshops are ideal ways to learn. To register call 609-861-0700. For more information go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Calendar Cmboworks05.html

Over 5,000 raptors have been counted at the Cape May Hawkwatch since September 1. On September 21 twelve species were tallied including 50 OSPREY, 6 BALD EAGLES, 20 N. HARRIER, 136 SHARP-SHINS, 54 COOPERS HAWKS, 23 BROAD-WINGS, 2 RED-TAILS, 205 AMERICAN KESTREL, 110 MERLIN, and 6 PEREGRINE. Spend some time on the hawkwatch learning ID with CMBOs seasonal naturalists and fellow hawkwatchers. Also be sure to attend one or several of the Hawk ID Mini-Workshops, offered each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October 23 (except October 1-2) from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Cape May Point State Park, meeting in the classroom. Or dive in with both feet and attend one or both of the CMBO Raptor Workshops taught by Pete Dunne and Pat Sutton (mentioned above).

31 species of butterflies have been seen locally between September 9 22. BLACK SWALLOWTAILS and their caterpillars are still thick. CLOUDLESS SULPHURS are still moving through in good numbers as they wander north. GRAY & RED-BANDED HAIRSTREAKS are flying. WHITE M HAIRSTREAKS were seen September 20 on Mountain Mint in CMBOs Gardens in Goshen, September 12 at Higbee Beach and in CMBOs Gardens in Goshen on Eupatorium in the meadow, and September 9 at Higbee Beach. VARIEGATED FRITILLARY was seen September 22 in CMBOs Gardens in Goshen. Many VICEROYS were seen September 18 at the Rea Farm. PAINTED LADIES are still thick and far more common than theyve been for 10 years. RED-SPOTTED PURPLES were on fruit in CMBOs Gardens in Goshen on September 22. HACKBERRY EMPEROR were last reported September 9 at Higbee Beach. TAWNY EMPERORS are still flying; 2 were at fruit in West Cape May September 22. SACHEMS are the most common skipper now . . . in fact the most common butterfly being seen. There is such variation that many observers are easily confused. Mixed in though have been seen quite a few other skippers: LEAST (9/9/05), ZABULON (9/9/05), SILVER-SPOTTED (9/9/05), HORACES DUSKYWING (9/22 in Cape May Point & at CMBOs Gardens in Goshen), AARONS SKIPPER (9/11 in CMBOs Gardens in Goshen), HAYHURSTS SCALLOPWING, CROSSLINE SKIPPER, and SWARTHY SKIPPER (all seen 9/12/05 at CMBOs Gardens in Goshen in the back meadow), and immigrants! 24 species of butterflies were tallied in Cape May Point on September 21, including 26 OCOLA SKIPPERS, 3 LONG-TAILED SKIPPER, 1 COMMON CHECKERED SKIPPER, and 2 FIERY SKIPPERS. An OCOLA SKIPPER was in CMBOs Gardens in Goshen on September 22. SNOWBERRY CLEARWINGS are still flying (one of the Hummingbird Moths).

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 Audubons website: http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/BackyardHabitat

MONARCH migration has been steady since mid-August, but the first REALLY BIG flight of the year occurred September 22. CMBOs Monarch Migration Project tagged 500 on 9/22 and many more migrated through. MONARCH numbers continue to swell! Every patch of Milkweed (whether it is Swamp, Common, Orange, or Tropical Milkweed) still has eggs and caterpillars on it, so the population is still growing. The CMBO Gardens in Goshen easily have 20 or more Monarchs daily, including both migrants and summer Monarchs (those that are still mating, laying eggs on Milkweed, and dying).

CMBOs Monarch Tagging Demos are offered every day of the week except Tuesdays and Thursdays (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. To learn of the history of the Monarch migration through Cape May go to: http://www.njaudubon.org then click on Research and then on Monarch Monitoring Project.

An amazing dragonfly migration filled the skies over Cape May Point on September 21, including many BLACK & CAROLINA SADDLEBAGS, and WANDERING GLIDERS.

Female GARDEN SPIDERS in CMBOs Gardens in Goshen are getting bigger and bigger. One has already laid 2 egg cases which will winter over and fill our gardens with next years Garden Spiders.

A RIVER OTTER was seen September 13 in Bunker Pond in front of the Hawkwatch Platform at the Cape May Point State Park. These secretive animals are rarely seen.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS largely cleared out in early September, but 1-3 can be seen int CMBOs Gardens in Goshen coming to blooming Coral Honeysuckle, Cannas, Tropical Salvia, and the feeders. Even though Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have thinned out dont take your feeders down. 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.

CMBOs Twilight Watch on September 22 enjoyed one of the best flights in several years. With The Meadows closed due to phragmites spraying the group met at Mt. Vernon Avenue (near 2nd Avenue Jetty in Cape May Point) and watched the clear sky lit up with the setting sun as 12 AMERICAN BITTERN, 25 GREEN HERONS, over 50 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS, 30 GREAT EGRETS, and 3 GREAT BLUE HERONS migrated over between 6:45 and 8 p.m. Prior to the heron and bittern show 100+ BLACK SKIMMERS entertained as they skimmed the water line and just offshore coursing back and forth in front of the group. At least 200 BLACK SKIMMERS can be found during the day roosting on Cape Mays beachfront in the vicinity of or north of 2nd Avenue Jetty. They stage here every fall, numbers growing week-by-week. The Twilight Watch for Migrating Owls, Bats, and Herons is offered every Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. in September and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in October.

Big numbers of COMMON NIGHTHAWKS migrated over the evenings of September 16-19. 12 over Reeds Beach September 19, 26 over Goshen September 17, and 24 over Hidden Valley September 16.

An incredible flight of songbirds passed over the Higbee Dike on September 21. The mix of warblers now is made up primarily of PARULA WARBLERS, PALM WARBLERS, MAGNOLIA WARBLERS, and BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLERS. Good landbirding was enjoyed around CMBOs Northwood Center through the rest of the day. The tangles and dense shrubs in the vicinity of the misters and drippers and the bathing pond drew in fun warblers through the day, including a female GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER.

Stone Harbor Point is a must see stop! It is loaded with shorebirds, hunting falcons, and more! 15 BROWN PELICANS, 1 BRANT, 45 CASPIAN TERNS, many, many, many FORSTERS TERNS, COMMON TERNS, and BLACK SKIMMERS, 12 PIPING PLOVER, 75 W. SANDPIPERS, 3 DUNLIN, 6 MARBLED GODWIT, and 40 RED KNOT were there on September 14. The Stone Harbor Point Walk is offered every Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. until sunset in September (4:30 p.m. in October) and meets in the parking lot at the south end of Stone Harbor.

Sunset Cruises for Fall Migrants are another way to experience shorebirds feeding and raptors hunting. There is still room: September 24 (3-7 p.m.) and October 1 (2-6 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!

Back Bay Boat Cruises, are offered every Sunday and Monday (10 a.m. till 1 p.m.) and sponsored by CMBO. To register for the cruises call The Skimmer at 609-884-3100.

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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