Big Year 2016: Forsythe NWR

Earning the Name

I usually doesn’t take until March to get to Forsythe but Shari and I decided it was time to take advantage of the nice weather and take Oakley to head down to the shore and do the wildlife refuge for the day. It was a quiet day of birds, although it was nice to see some close-up that we don’t usually get to see.

It was a beautiful day for early March, in the high 50s and sunny – a perfect day to go out around the wildlife drive and take the dog for a walk along the trails. We got there and were surprised to see a park ranger pulling folks over – two in the 5 minutes we were in the parking lot prepping to go. Guess they’re taking that speed limit seriously now! But then we were off.

Overall, the drive was relatively quiet – numbers seemed to be down this year at Forsythe. Still, those that WERE there were being very congenial – snow geese right up against the drive instead of deep in the marshes for only distant shots. It’s not that often that I get to see them this closely.


Bad Dye Job


But it was mostly a quiet day and 2/3 of the way through the drive it really started to cloud over, making photography less than awesome. Still, it was nice to get back to an old haunt. But it was time to head to a nearby location in order see a pair of rarities.

Absecon, NJ

American Avocets are a relative rarity in NJ – maybe a handful each year, normally in the later summer months. However, this year we’ve had a pair over-wintering in a small area of salt marsh in Absecon. These two birds have weathered snow, freezing temps and harsh storms and never wavered. And despite my fear that they would move on before I got a chance to see them, they stuck around with a few Lesser Yellowlegs. So before we left the area, we took a quick trip down there to see if they were still around. Luckily, they were – and they were exceedingly friendly. No sooner had I crouched down to get a few shots they actually wandered over to me and gave me some great close-up opportunities that I would have never expected. A great bonus!

Rare Pair


Sitting Pretty

Earlier, in Westmont

My day actually started a bit earlier driving back from grabbing some bagels. As I went down along Haddon Ave., a bird hovering above some broken ground caught my eye. This hawking behavior is rather specific to flycatchers and the bright white tail tips made this an Eastern Kingbird, a very early migrant for this species by about a month plus. If I hadn’t see the white tail tips, I would have never thought it would have been in NJ this early – just like I wouldn’t have expected to see a pair of avocets.


  • 112) Eastern Kingbird
  • 118) American Avocet
2016 YTD Tally
120 Species – Month 48
Lifers 7
NJ Species 110
NJ Lifers 7

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