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 4. 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.
Dave Githens from the Cape May Whale Watcher reports they had a RIGHT
WHALE on September 1 and a HUMPBACK WHALE 6 miles off Cape May.
Observers got to see several complete breaches before the RIGHT WHALE
moved out of the area.
VIRGIN'S BOWER or YAM-LEAVED CLEMATIS is in bloom all over Cape May
Point. It's the vine covered with tiny, white and very fragrant
flowers, hence the name "Virgin's Bower." It is highly invasive, so
enjoy but don't plant more! MISTFLOWER or BLUE BONESET is beginning to
bloom and a favorite with butterflies. TALL or GIANT SUNFLOWERS are in
bloom along the State Park trails and elsewhere. WINGED SUMAC has
bloomed and the female bushes are developing fruit now, a favorite food
with fall migrants. Has anyone noticed that WILD CHERRY trees have NO
FRUIT this fall. Scary, since this is an important food to 52 birds
found in New Jersey. The lack of fruit is probably due to the cold and
wet spring and the fact that the flowers might have been beat off the
trees with one of the rainy stretches this spring. VIBURNUM bushes are
heavy with fruit, an important food to migrants.
PREYING MANTIDS are huge now. They've been growing all summer and are
now nearly full size. They'll mate, lay their Styrofoam-like egg mass
and die. It's the eggs that survive the winter and are responsible for
next year's population. ZIG-ZAG (or GARDEN) SPIDERS are growing large
now too and their webs are quite noticeable now in butterfly gardens.
This week butterfly gardens filled up with hundreds of PENNSYLVANIA
LEATHER-WINGS (or SOLDIER BEETLES) on flowers like Sedum; they look a
bit like fireflies. They feed on nectar, pollen, and small insects.
Their larvae devour grasshopper eggs, small caterpillars, and beetles.
Butterflies continue to fill the Cape May Bird Observatory's gardens in
Goshen. Be sure to stop by and enjoy them and the wild butterflies and
other visitors attracted to them. In these gardens and elsewhere in the
county this week: SWALLOWTAILS are plentiful (Black, E. Tiger, and
Spicebush) still. CLOUDLESS SULPHUR sightings are coming in almost
daily (may be a good fall for this southern vagrant). AMERICAN COPPER
numbers are growing. 2 OLIVE' JUNIPER HAIRSTREAKS were in CMBO's
gardens in Goshen on August 30, both were very worn. RED-BANDED
HAIRSTREAK numbers may be peaking now (17 were in the CMBO gardens on
September 3 and 22 in another garden in Goshen on August 31, almost all
on Mountain Mint). SUMMER AZURES are still flying. AMERICAN SNOUT are
still being seen where HACKBERRY trees grow. PEARL CRESCENTS are
plentiful. QUESTION MARKS are abundant around Cape May Point, and
CMBO's gardens in Goshen has a number of chrysalides under the deck.
Another garden in Goshen had 8 Question Marks and an E. COMMA on a sap
flow and at a dish of fruit on September 1. AMERICAN LADIES are
abundant and a few PAINTED LADIES are being seen (but we can't help but
wonder if the Painted Ladies are "real" or released by teachers and
students). COMMON BUCKEYE numbers continue to grow. A VICEROY was seen
at Higbee Beach and Pavilion Circle Gardens this week. RED-SPOTTED
PURPLES, HACKBERRY EMPEROR, and TAWNY EMPEROR are being drawn to rotting
fruit and sap flows now. An APPALACHIAN BROWN was seen August 31 and
COMMON WOOD NYMPHS can be found near sap flows or rotting fruit.
MONARCHS continue to be fairly common in gardens. Migrants have begun
to come through from New England and Canada. Yet our local Monarchs are
still mating, laying eggs on Common Milkweed in CMBO's garden and many
other sites, and dying. Their eggs may become the final generation that
migrates. Skipper diversity is still good. CMBO's gardens this week
held 12 skipper species. SACHEM numbers are building as southern
vagrants wander north. SALT MARSH SKIPPERS are still flying in fair
numbers. OCOLA SKIPPER, another southern vagrant, was seen this week on
August 27 in Eldora. The two different hummingbird moths can easily be
seen in the CMBO gardens in Goshen and elsewhere (SNOWBERRY CLEARWINGS
resembles a bumblebee and the HUMMINGBIRD CLEARWING is larger and more
red and green).
Learn your butterflies (and a bit about gardening and dragonflies if
they are in evidence) with Pat Sutton each Wednesday, through
mid-October (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, through mid-October (10:00 a.m. to
Noon), at Pavilion Circle Gardens in Cape May Point for a "Butterfly
Walk at Cape May Point."
If you are keen on butterflies and gardens that successfully attract
them consider signing up for TWO very special "Tours of Private
Butterfly Gardens" that will be led by Pat Sutton: (1) a tour on Friday,
September 12, will visit gardens in Cape May County from Villas to
Woodbine, and (2) a tour on Saturday, September 13, will visit gardens
in and near Cape May and Cape May Point. Each tour is from 10 a.m. to 3
p.m. Expect to learn of new plants, savor great garden designs, and
meet kindred spirits who are generously welcoming us into their private
gardens. Call 609-861-0700 to register. 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
having a chance to learn so much from Karen as you work. Butterfly &
hummingbird gardeners, be sure to check out CMBO's selection of plants
FOR SALE. They include logs of normally hard to find goodies like
Cardinal Flower, Joe-pye-weed, Common Milkweed (while supply lasts!!! --
Monarchs readily lay their eggs on this plant), Coral Honeysuckle (a
hummingbird magnet!), and many native fruit-bearing trees and shrubs
On the dragonfly front, E. AMBERWING, E. PONDHAWK, BLUE DASHER, SLATY
SKIMMER, BLUE-FACED MEADOWHAWK, CAROLINA SADDLEBAGS, BLACK SADDLEBAGS,
SWAMP DARNER, COMMON GREEN DARNER, and gliders have all been enjoyed
this week at sites like CMBO's gardens in Goshen, Higbee Beach, the
"Meadows, and the Rea Farm.
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are still thick at the CMBO Center in Goshen,
but come savor them now, since they'll soon be gone. When it's time to
go, they feed heavily until full dark & take off. The next day is very
quiet and from then on the numbers are far less! They are coming to
the CORAL HONEYSUCKLE, CARDINAL CLIMBER on the pergola, BUTTERFLY
BUSHES, TROPICAL SAGE planted around the pergola, BLUE & BLACK SALVIA in
pots on the back deck, and of course to the feeders too, all 6 of them
are being emptied daily! Remember to keep your feeders fresh! Clean,
wash, and refill at least every 2-3 days in this heat! Even when the
Ruby-throats go, keep your feeders maintained, since later in the fall
is when the rare western hummingbirds occur. 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.
CMBO's "Cape May Morning Flight Project," sponsored by Carl Zeiss
Optical, began September 1. This new project is documenting migrant
songbirds during the first 4 hours of the day beginning at dawn, from
September 1 to October 31. To witness this amazing flight, walk 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. Michael O'Brien is CMBO's Morning Flight counter and Chris
Vogel is the project's Interpretive Naturalist. Chris or another
naturalist can be found every morning at the viewing tower to help
visitors understand and enjoy the morning flight. Highlights of this
project over the last two weeks follow: On August 31, 13 species of
warblers, 219 AMERICAN REDSTART, 150 N. WATERTHRUSH, and 1,665
BOBOLINK. On August 24, 78 BALTIMORE ORIOLE, 1,231 E. KINGBIRD, 93
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER. 20 species of warblers were tallied from the
"Morning Flight Project" last week.
The Bobolink migration is very auditory! Listen for their calls
"Bob-o-link, Bob-o-link," often sounding more like "blink," "blink,"
"blink." DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS are moving now, flock after flock
through the day. Their sloppy "V" formation is often mistaken for
Canada Geese, but the geese don't migrate till much later in the fall.
The Cape May Hawkwatch, again sponsored by Swarovski Optik, officially
began September 1! CMBO's 2003 crew includes Jason Guerard, back for
his 2nd fall as our hawk counter, and Bob Diebold and two Interpretive
Naturalists, Joshua Lawrey and Julie Tilden. Please welcome them when
you visit the hawkwatch! OSPREY, BALD EAGLES (10 in 2 days), N.
HARRIER, COOPER'S HAWKS, BROAD-WINGED HAWKS, RED-TAILED HAWKS, AMERICAN
KESTREL, and a PEREGRINE were all migrating through this week. Cold
fronts are the key.
CMBO's regularly scheduled walks that require no preregistration are
terrific opportunities to witness the fall migration unfolding. EVERY
FRIDAY -- "Higbee Beach Bird Walk," 7-9 a.m., "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. 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. EVERY TUESDAY --
"Sunset Birding at Stone Harbor Point & Nummy's Island," 5:00 p.m. to
Sunset, where this summer's very successful beach nesting colony is
still active with thousands of COMMON TERNS and BLACK SKIMMERS. EVERY
WEDNESDAY -- " Birding Cape May Point," 7:30-9:30 a.m., "Twilight Watch
for Migrating Owls, Bats, Herons," 6-8 p.m. EVERY THURSDAY -- "Hidden
Valley Bird Walk," 7:30-9:30 a.m. and "Birding For First Timers," 1-3
p.m., perfect for newcomers to birding.
Shorebirds are migrating through in big numbers now. And heron and
egret colonies are still busy places. A great way to savor the normally
inaccessible back bay marshes is to 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.
Some special programs (in addition to those already mentioned) that do
require preregistration because spaces are limited follow: (1) "Birding
Slowly" on Sunday, September 14 (7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), (2) "Optics
Workshop" at CMBO Center in Goshen, Sunday, September 21 (1-3 p.m.), and
(3) a number of "Sunset Cruises for Fall Migrants" on 4 different dates
in September and October.
To learn more about any of these programs or to register, call
609-861-0700. 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:
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!
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)