Cape May Natural History Hotline - 9/25/2003

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 Thursday, September 25. 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.

CMBO's 3rd Autumn Open House program will be held on Saturday evening, September 27, at 7:30 p.m. at the CMBO Center in Goshen (600 Route 47 North). Bruce & Laura McWhorter will share their "Grand Excursion to Alaska." Come be dazzled! Each Saturday evening in the fall consider dropping in for these informal programs by local naturalists: 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 24 (offered every Wednesday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in October, at "The Meadows") savored a dazzling scarlet sunset, as dozens of MERLINS blasted by after snacks and wheeled back overhead feeding on the wing. About 7:10 the COMMON NIGHTHAWK show began as 15 or so hunted insects, dashing this way and that way, against the red sky. By about 7:20 p.m. we picked up small flocks of GREEN HERONS beginning to migrate out across the Delaware Bay, totaling about 20, plus 1 AMERICAN BITTERN, 1 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON, and 1 GREAT BLUE HERON.

Mike Fritz and others on the Tuesday evening "Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island," September 23 (offered every Tuesday, 5:00 p.m. to Sunset on Sept. 30, but beginning at 4:30 p.m. in October) had an amazing walk with 11 PIPING PLOVER, 6 MARBLED GODWIT, 2 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, and 6 SANDWICH TERNS, among other goodies.

The Cape May Hawkwatch, again sponsored by Swarovski Optik, has tallied 8,700 raptors since September 1, including 39 Bald Eagles. Excellent flights passed on September 21 (1,299) & 24 (1,055). Good numbers of OSPREY, N. HARRIER, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, COOPER'S HAWK (121 on 9/21), AMERICAN KESTREL, and MERLIN (94 on 9/24) are coming through now. 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.

The CMBO Avalon Seawatch, sponsored by Nikon Sports Optics, began September 22. Andy Wraithmell, from the U.K, and Bob Diebold are this years counters and Julie Diebold is the Interpretive Naturalist. Please welcome them when you stop by! DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS are the most common migrant right now.

MONARCH numbers are below average so far this season. The evening of September 24 a small flight occurred and gardens all over Cape May Point had Monarchs in them on September 25. There is still time to witness a big push of Monarchs. The next coldfront could open the floodgates and push them 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 GULF FRITILLARY was seen at Higbee Beach September 23-24. This is one of a very few sightings of this butterfly in Cape May County. Some other southern vagrant butterflies appeared in numbers TODAY, September 25, in Cape May Point during CMBO's Thursday morning butterfly walk. PAINTED LADIES (20) were much more common than AMERICAN LADIES. Up until now lone Painted Ladies have been seen. FIERY SKIPPERS (10) and OCOLA SKIPPERS (10) were in every garden. Butterfly Bush was the key attractant! SACHEMS are still the commonest butterfly. CMBO' gardens in Goshen had 1 FIERY SKIPPER, 70 SACHEMS, 2 OCOLA SKIPPERS, plus lots of other goodies on September 24. Dozens of LITTLE YELLOWS were seen all over Cape Island, the area south of the Cape May Canal on September 20, following Hurricane Isabel, They continue to be seen in smaller numbers as far north as the CMBO gardens in Goshen. CLOUDLESS SULPHUR sightings are daily all over the Cape May Peninsula. TAWNY EMPEROR was seen at Higbee Beach on September 24 and a very tattered individual at CMBO's fruit dish in Goshen on September 25. Dragonflies reported this week from Higbee Beach area include: COMMON GREEN DARNER, HALLOWEEN PENNANT, E. PONDHAWK, NEEDHAM'S SKIMMER, TWELVE-SPOTTED SKIMMER, BLUE DASHER, YELLOW-LEGGED MEADOWHAWK, BLUE-FACED MEADOWHAWK, CAROLINA SADDLEGAGS, BLACK SADDLEBAGS. Apparently a flight of mostly COMMON GREEN DARNERS passed through on September 24.

Learn your butterflies (and a bit about gardening and dragonflies if they are in evidence) with Pat Sutton each Wednesday, 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, 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.

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. Highlights from the "Morning Flight Project" include good numbers of a variety of species on September 21: 55 Red-eyed Vireo, 177 Northern Parula, 24 Cape May Warbler, 34 Black-throated Blue Warbler, 40 Blackpoll Warbler, 118 American Redstart, 47 N. Waterthrush, 18 Scarlet Tanager, 22 Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Pre-dawn on September 24, Michael O'Brien (author of the CD, "Flight Calls of Migratory Birds" and the primary observer with the CMBO "Morning Flight Project") heard many VEERYS and SWAINSON'S THRUSHES, several GRAY-CHEEKED and BICKNELL'S THRUSHES (first Bicknell's of the season), and many warblers calling as they migrated over Cape May!

A decided drop in RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS occurred today, September 25. A lone bird was at CMBO's gardens and feeders in Goshen late in the day. Now that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have thinned out, be alert for odd western hummingbirds. Now through December is when they show up. So, continue to maintain your feeders weekly (clean thoroughly). 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.

A glittering blizzard of TREE SWALLOWS worked the dunes at the Cape May Point State Park in front of the hawkwatch platform all day long on September 25. It was a spectacle and may persist for a week or two! Over 100 BLACK SKIMMERS have gathered and can be found roosting on Cape May's beachfront at 2nd Avenue Jetty. Drive there and enjoy them from a non-threatening distance. From the Hawkwatch they can be seen as they lift off the beach in a mass and settle back down. TALL or GIANT SUNFLOWER is in bloom along the Parkway, the State Park trails, and elsewhere. SEASIDE GOLDENROD is in full bloom and a favorite with Monarchs. Its golden blooms catch the eye and it is mistakenly blamed for allergies! Don't make this same mistake. RAGWEED is the culprit and its inconspicuous flowers are to blame. GROUNDSEL-TREE is beginning to bloom: the male shrub's flowers are little yellow buttons and the female shrub has the fluffy white flowers. Monarchs often collect on them. PHRAGMITES is in bloom and catching the eye.

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, that require no preregistration! Walks not already mentioned follow. EVERY FRIDAY -- "Higbee Beach Bird Walk," 7-9; "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 -- "Birding Two Mile Beach," (7:30-9:30 a.m.); "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 WEDNESDAY -- " Birding Cape May Point," 7:30-9:30 a.m. EVERY THURSDAY -- "Hidden Valley Bird Walk," 7:30-9:30 a.m.; "Birding For First Timers," 1-3 p.m. (perfect for newcomers to birding).

To explore the normally inaccessible back bay marshes, 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, October 4 (2-6 p.m.), still has room and is a great way to savor herons & egrets, shorebirds, raptors, and more! An "Optics Workshop" October 11 (1-3 p.m.) at the CMBO Northwood Center still has room. Learn to ID "Wildlife Food Plants" at Higbee Beach with Pat Sutton on October 11 (2-4:30 p.m.). "Bird Slowly" with Mark Garland on October 12 (7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.). To register or learn more about any of these special programs that require preregistration, call 609-861-0700, x-11. 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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