Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Horseshoe Crabs

I thought I'd share some of the Horseshoe Crab pictures I took during the spawning in May. Horseshoe Crabs are drawn to the Delaware Bay to spawn in May and June. The highest numbers of crabs come ashore at the time of the full and new mooons during high tides.

As the larger female Horseshoe Crab come ashore, the smaller males hook onto the female and the tide ppulls them onto the beach. The female horseshoe crab will bury into the sand to lay her eggs while the males will crowd around her to fertilize the eggs. The eggs are small green BB-sized balls. The female Horseshoe Crab can lay up to 20,000 eggs at one time.

These pictures were taken at Reed's Beach where the waters were black because there were so many horseshoe crab eggs floating in the waves.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Reeds Beach, Delaware Bay & Red Knots

More magical pictures from Reed's Beach along the NJ Delaware Bay... AWESOME!!!
Shorebirds I saw eating the horseshoe Crab eggs were Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones, Laughing Gulls, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Dunlin, Sanderlings, Least Sandpiper and a Willet.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Red Knots arrived

Last week the Red Knots, migrating from South America, arrived along the Delaware Bayshore. It's all timed with the full moon, high tides and the Horseshoe Crabs spawning. They fly straight through from the southern tip of South America not stopping until they arrive here. Like many migratory birds they also reduce the size of their digestive organs prior to migration. The Red Knots feed on Horseshoe Crab eggs for up to 2 weeks, often doubling their weight, so that they can fly another 3 to 6 days straight until they arrive at the Arctic to breed.

American Red Knot numbers have decreased significantly over the past decade becoming threathened with extinction due to the overharvesting of Horseshoe Crabs since the 1990's.

Several enviromental groups launched an initiative to halt the harvest of horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay. After many years and much petitioning the NJ government did enact legistation to protect the Horseshoe Crabs to aid in the saving of the American Red Knots. Beaches along the Delaware Bay are closed to the public from early May through the second week of June to give the birds access to the Horseshoe Crab eggs without human interference.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Reed's Beach May 17

Last week I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Red Knots. Almost daily I would go check out Reed's Beach, Kimmel's Landing Rd or Cook's Beach checking for the shorebirds that make May a wonderful month to be a birder and photographer. One evening Jenny & I decided to take a drive up to Reed's Beach. There were a few Red Knots but there were lots of Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings and Laughing Gulls eating the horseshoe crab eggs on the beach.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Birding Benny's Landing Rd

Monday afternoon, Tuesday both morning and afternoon, I stopped by Benny's Landing Road salt marshes to bird. I was there for 2 low tides and one high tide. Birding at high tide brings the birds closer in some instances or just changes the species of birds you see. Lots of variety of sandpipers were there - Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers(1), Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlins(2), Dowitchers and Whrimbrels(3). Then best of all I saw about 5 Clapper Rails(4,5). I believe I saw one two times & one (that hangs out in the same place) I saw each of the 3 times I visited the area. There were Glossy Ibis(6), Snowy & Great Egrets and lots of Barn Swallows fliting about the marsh.
(Picture order corresponds to the named bird.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kayaking Sunday & Monday (May 15 & 16)

Sunday and Monday I kayaked the Cape Island Creek behind/beside Cape May with my sister, Jenny. We kayaked at low (starting to rise) tide to see the shorebirds feeding on the mudflats. The weather was in the mid 60's with a nice breeze to keep the bugs away. We saw Semipalmated Plovers(1), Semipalmated Sandpipers(2), Least Sandpipers, Willet, Clapper Rail(3), Forster's Terns, Least Terns, Short-billed Dowitchers(4 & 5), Laughing Gulls, Snowy & Great Egrets, Osprey along with other birds and gulls. (Numbers correspond to pictured bird)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

and in my backyard...

I've been having visitors to my backyard the past week. In addition to the regular birds I have had a pair of Mallard Ducks coming by to eat at the base of my birdfeeders. After visiting me they fly over and have a swim in my neighbors pool! Jenny would love them to nest here whereas I like an occasional visit. The squirrel has been coming for a bite to eat and then has a drink or two from my fountain. The House Finch is an all year visitor.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Today is the second Mother's Day that Mom has been dead. Such a hard word - dead. Of course, she is gone from my life but in no ways has she been forgotten. I have so many good memories of our times together. I often think of her and feel like I would like to call and talk to her. I am hoping that in Heaven she can hear my thoughts. If she can then she knows how much I love her and miss her. I mourned Mom's passing but she was ready to die as life here on earth had become a burden to her and meet her Lord and her family members who had gone on before her - her husband, her Mom & Dad, Aunt Frances, and most of her friends. Mom lived 86 years enjoying all of them up until that last 9 months. Pictures are of my Mom when she was young, a year before she died with her first great-grandchild, Shamus. The next picture is my Mom's Mom(my grandmother whom we called Dinny. The last picture is from Thanksgiving 2008 with all of her family there except Drew and Ed, two of her grandsons.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Skimmer Salt Marsh Safari

Another fun trip on the Skimmer Salt Marsh Safari this past Friday. Lots of great birds seen including those pictured here Common Tern bathing, Whimbrel, American Oystercatcher & Dowitchers.

Cox Hall Creek WMA - May 5 & 6

Thursday, I spent the day out birding checking out both Reed's and Kimmel's Beaches looking for any signs of the start of the horseshoe crab mating and looking for early arrivals of Red Knots even though last year it was mid May before they arrived. I walked the CM WMA which is along Kimmel's Beach Road but it was pretty dead. I heard a few birds and saw one Eastern Kingbird but it was good as it's a new life bird for me.

I finished up at Cox Hall Creek WMA, formerly known as Villas WMA. I arrived mid afternoon and decided to walk the perimeter but also to try and walk along the Cox Hall Creek area that I had walked a year ago. It is behind the main areas and off the beaten path but last year it was easy to traverse. Well, a year has made a difference in the (over)growth of the bushes and grasses causing me to remove many ticks - both deer and dog- before I found the path for which I was searching. The path is a car width's wide and not as overgrown.

Earlier in the week I was told that there were Prothonary Warbler's nesting in the area.
As I walked the first part of the path I startled 6 Green Herons into taking flight. I managed to get a picture of one on the second part of the path. Right where I should have gone into the woods I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a pair of Carolina Wrens hollowing out a hole in a tree for their nesting area. It was fascinating to watch them bring out the wood dust and drop it out of their becks.

While hiking back to my car I saw a pair of Osprey in one of the meadows. Both had fish in their claws. I didn't know there was a nesting pair there but when I went back in the morning someone mentioned they have a nest in the tree by the lake.

The next morning I went back to see the Carolina Wrens again where they were still busy working on their cavity home. I also saw quite a number of Eastern Kingbirds, Great Crested Flycatchers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Eastern Bluebirds, several Red-bellied Woodpeckers, crows chasing hawks, and lots of other birds I see often. The Red-bellied Woodpecker had a really full bright red head so it was a male and I guess I usually see females.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011