Monday, May 23, 2011

Back to the Brig

Now that the weather is reliably above freezing, it was really a joy to check out Edwin Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Brigantine this past Saturday. You'll recall that back in January/February we spent a frozen afternoon there, being dive-bombed by gulls. On an earlier trip, we'd seen an immature bald eagle and an elusive American bittern, but mostly we spent the day avoiding the bitter wind and being very cold.

Fish again?!?!?!?!?!
This time it was just plain beautiful -- sunny and relatively warm -- and it was a good day to check out all of the various environments at the refuge. If the predicted Rapture were to come, there were much worse places to spend one's final hours. It seemed that many other birders were thinking the same thing, so we basically saw where others were going... and didn't go there.

Sittin' on the dock of the bay...
On earlier visits, we hadn't spent very much time in the wooded areas or foot trails, preferring to take the marsh drive in the relative warmth of the car and then bop outside for a few minutes from time to time. This trip, we made some very productive walks about, finding a variety of songbirds and even a beautiful indigo bunting. And while we didn't see much in the way of mammals, other than people, we came upon a couple of tiny toads on the path.

The marsh drive added quite a few shorebirds to the day's take, with a fair number of black bellied plovers hanging out with the ubiquitous gulls. And I have to admit that even as a big fan of great egrets, I was getting a little weary of seeing so many standing amid the spartina.

All in all, Ivan logged over 60 birds (being lazy, I don't keep a list), not a bad take for a couple hours of observation. It's always good to get to the Jersey marshes before the insects get nasty.

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