Friday, May 31, 2013

An AWESOME morning at the Meadows

Since the American Oystercatchers and their chicks were so fun to watch on Wednesday off to the Meadows I went again today to see if they were hanging out.  I thought by timing my visit pretty early in the morning I would have a chance to see Mom and Dad feeding the chicks at the water's edge.  At first they were up in the protected shorebird areas in an area of dune grass but now there were 3 chicks instead of 2.  While I was sitting on the beach the parents lead the chicks down to the water's edge to feed.  Initially, they were 50 feet away but as they fed they worked their way down towards the area where I was sitting keeping very still.  At times they were only 15 feet from me and so close I couldn't even fit them all in the view of the camera.  It was fun to watch the adults catch the sand crabs and break them apart for the chicks.  Sometimes the chicks would take the snack and other times they walked right by as if to say "Not now Dad, I'm exploring."  The chicks already preen and make some of the movements that the adults make.  They are only 3-4 days old and just little balls of fluff.  Here are some of my pictures.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

And more of the Meadows

Black Skimmer
Here are a few more pictures from 5/29 taken at the Meadows.  There were Black Skimmers, Killdeer and Glossy Ibis among the birds I saw and photographed.

Glossy Ibis

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

American Oystercatcher and chicks - The Meadows

Another visit to the Meadows where I was happy to see an American Oystercatcher couple with 2 very small chicks.  I'd say the chicks were only a day or two old.  I also was very surprised to see one of the chicks attacking the second chick and pulling at his tail area and pecking at him.  The parent was nearby but didn't even seem to notice the interaction.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Least Terns - The Meadows

The Meadows is always an exciting place in the spring.  Piping Plovers arrive in March, American Oystercatchers who winter in the county but not at the Meadows return  in April , the Least Terns arrive in May.  If we are really lucky the Black Skimmers arrive in May also.  I was looking for Least Terns today hoping that I would find some mating and if lucky a nest or two.  I was happy to see many courtship rituals of the terns.  I also saw several nests.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Edwin Forysthe National Wildlife Drive - reopened

Last fall Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of NJ, NY and up into New England .  Atlantic County was hit with a vengeance and the Edwin Forsythe National Refuge took a big hit.  The Refuge had over 700 boats come into the refuge with the surges of water that Hurricane Sandy brought.  There were all kinds of containers , grills and trash that also came in.  The surges breached the fresh water impoundments pouring salt water from the ocean into them.  The wildlife drive was washed out in several places and had to be rebuilt.  As you can imagine this took quite a lot of time and a good bit of money but the reopening celebration was May 18th.  The afternoon of May 20th I was able to drive up to the refuge and take a drive around the 8 mile drive.  Since spring migration is underway I saw lots of shorebirds plus Clapper Rail, Ospreys, several types of sparrows, Glossy Ibis, Willets, Common Terns, Snowy and Great Egrets.  here are some of the pictures

Ruddy Turnstone


Short-billed Dowitcher

Semipalmated Plover

Glossy Ibis

Monday, May 20, 2013

Birding Cook's Beach

Red Knots on Spit
Mid May to me means the return of the Red Knots and other shorebirds that come to feed on the Horseshoe Crabs.  The birds fly from South American without stopping and when the Red Knots arrive they need to feed and eat as much protein as possible as the leave the Delaware Bay and fly through to the Arctic Circle where they breed.  The numbers of the Red Knots have been down which the scientists feel is from over-harvesting of Horseshoe Crabs.  The birds get the protein they need from the Horseshoe Crab eggs.  There's been a moratorium in the harvesting of the crabs and now the scientists feel the numbers of birds are rebounding.  Some of the beaches that are good for the birds to feed along are Reed's Beach, Cook's Beach and Kimmel's Beach.  Today I saw Red Knots, Least Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones, Willets, Laughing Gulls, Forester's Terns, Great Egret, Snowy Egrets.  Here are some of the pictures.
Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones, Laughing Gulls
Least Sandpipers
Forester's Terns
Great Egret
Snowy Egrets

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Meeting Larry Niles of The Shorebird Project

Today I thought I'd play hooky from all of the yard work and indoor work I have been doing and go find some migrating birds.  Off I went to Kimbles Beach where I ran the famous Larry Niles from The Shorebird Project.  I actually had no idea who he was but he was wearing a shirt that said the Shorebird Project so I figured that I'd tell this person how upsetting it is to see all of the horseshoe crabs turned upside down and not be able to get back over for whatever reason.  People aren't allowed to help because there is a ban on being on the beach from May 5 to June 5 during peak migration times. Usually horseshoe crabs  use their tails to flip themselves but when I was on Reed's Beach road last week there were well over 200 upside down horseshoe crabs.  Turns out The Shorebird Project is looking for volunteers to turn the crabs back over so I have volunteered my sister, Jenny and I to help when I am off.  We will have to fill out some data but I think it will be fun and a good way to help.  We also do horseshoe crab tagging when we are able.  Who knows maybe sometime they'll ask us we we'd like to go along when they tag the Red Knots and other shorebirds. The female horseshoe crab lays up to 80,000 eggs per spawning year which is then eaten as protein for the shorebirds to bulk up on before flying North to the Arctic to breed.

Female (with eggs on exoskeleton) trying to right herself.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Goshen CMBO

Off to the Goshen branch of the CMBO to see what's going on there.  Last year I found good numbers of birds and butterflies each time I visited there.  Since I am not yet having much luck with the butterflies in my yard I though maybe I'd have better luck elsewhere.  The first birds I spotted were Barn Swallows.  There were some by the front door on a ledge and then to the side under the eves I found a pair building a nest.  How cool to watch them build.  Off they go to a source of mud and back they come with the mud on their beck, then they put it onto the sides they've already done.  Then they also bring back some mud that has some straw mixed in to give the nest some strength.  Very amazing.

Barn Swallows nest building
As I walked around the building I saw some American Goldfinches, some Mockingbirds, Carolina Wren and a Brown Thrasher and only one butterfly -American Lady.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nummy Island - migration is beginning

Black-crowned Night Heron all spiffed up for spring!

Short-billed Dowitcher hiding in the grasses.
American Oystercatcher

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bay Bay Birding

Out and about on Monday in the Back Bays behind Wildwood to get a bird fix.  I love the spring birding when the birds are migrating through the area.  I saw lots of Common Loons, both in breeding plumage and not, Short-billed Dowitchers, Dunlin, Semipalmated Plovers, Black-bellied Plovers, good numbers of Whimbrel, Osprey with one flying in nest building materials, American Oystercatchers, Common Terns, Ruddy Turnstones.  Here are a few pictures.