Big Day at Cape May – Forsythe

Snowy ... in July? After our trip to Cape May, we decided to head to old standby Forsythe NWR in Brigantine to find some shorebirds. We had good success with the insects at Cape May, but not so much with the birds. So, we figured we could get all 3 at Forsythe although we would focus on the birds.

What we hadn’t counted on, though was another frequent visitor at Forsythe – greenheads. These little biting buggers were everywhere, and very intent on making our lives miserable. It was a shame, too, because there was quite a bit going on at Forsythe, but it was just too painful (even with bug spray on) to stop for anything but the most interesting things.

The marshes were full of birds, if not necessarily the shorebirds we were looking for. We had hoped to see the reported American Avocets, but they were nowhere to be seen, possibly consumed by the legions of greenheads. But herons and egrets abounded, as did Forster’s terns who were snapping up fish like they would never see sushi again. Similarly, snowy and great egrets were joined by a number of Black-crowned Night-Herons, both adult and immature, throughout the wildlife drive.

There were many more birds out there – Black Skimmers, American Oystercatchers, Glossy Ibis plus the normal cadre of gulls and terns, ducks and geese. No raptors other than the Osprey and their broods, and the other shorebirds were mostly relegated to a few small flocks of Semi-palmated Sandpipers, a pair of Short-billed Dowitchers and a few willets. But all of them were mostly out of our grasp because of the darn flies.

There were a bunch of odonates and butterflies around, but it wasn’t worth getting out to track them down. I did get to see a Salt Marsh Skipper from close range while hiding in the car’s interior while Shari got some pictures of the snowy egret at the top of this post. But that was as brave as I got during the trip.

He took the red-eye into town.

After only a half-hour or so, we decided that short of a bald eagle doing a samba across the road, it just wasn’t worth the biting pests, and decided to high-tail it out of there. However, I had to pause as I passed the fields just past Jen’s Trail – there, in the fading sunlight were thousands of Halloween pennants. It seemed that there was one on every other stem of grass, as far as I could see. It was amazing how many there were, all perched and waiting for some unknown queue.

As we sailed through the bluebird area, we heard the call of a bobwhite in the distance, saw some kingbirds and some other warbler-type birds, but weren’t willing to risk blood loss to get better looks. Still, even this downer at the end of the day wasn’t enough to change the fact that we had a good time overall.

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Birds: Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Glossy Ibis, Forster’s Tern, Black Skimmer, American Oystercatcher, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Laughing Gull, Eastern Kingbird, Common Yellowthroat, Osprey, Purple Martin, Northern Mockingbird, American Goldfinch, Canada Goose, Red-winged Blackbird, Mallards, House Finch, House Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Seaside Sparrow

Butterflies: Common Buckeye, Cabbage White, Orange Sulphur (+ other sulphur sp.), Monarch, Viceroy, Black Swallowtail

Dragonflies: Halloween Pennant, Needham’s Skimmer, Black Saddlebags


One Response to “Big Day at Cape May – Forsythe

  • Great shots, even if the greenheads were a pain. I really like the red-eyed guys.

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