I was lucky enough to make two trips to the Jersey Shore in one spring week. The first was to Edwin B. Forsythe NWR near Atlantic City, a 47,000 acre refuge spread along the marshes of the Jersey Shore. While driving the 8 mile Wildlife Drive loop, we got to see a lot of cool birds. Luckily for me, I was accompanied by several veteran birders, since I needed all the help I could get identifying a number of bird species. I had two life birds in the first ten minutes and ended the day with seven. Above is a Great Egret, definitely not a life bird for me, but one I love watching.
FUN FACT: Common Terns (above) drink saltwater (yuck!) by flying above the water’s surface and dipping their beaks into the water. Grab and go – no leisurely time on the veranda sipping iced tea for them!
Later that week a friend and I went to four different places in the Cape May area. Again, lots of shorebirds. Like this Laughing Gull.
Willet, landing. Before I saw them fly, they looked like every other mid-sized sandpiper. Then I saw this beautiful white wing patch, and suddenly I’m a Willet expert. As long as they’re not on the ground!
FUN FACT: Osprey (above) – and Osprey nests – are numerous at the Shore. Ospreys used to nest in dead trees. As these have become scarce, they are happy to build their stick nests on man-made structures, including telephone poles, channel markers and the platforms we humans have put up for them. They have a reversible toe on each foot that helps them better grasp fish. A migratory bird, they may fly more than 150,000 miles in their lives. That’s a lot of frequent flier miles!
On a personal note, I recently became a published photographer for the first time when a spread of my Heinz NWR photos was featured in Phactum, a publication of the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking. If you’re interested, you can access it at the link below.