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Friday, June 3, 2016

Having Fun With Shorebirds

As birders in the Delaware Valley we are fortunate to reside smack dab in the middle of a migration expressway known as the Eastern Flyway. There is probably no better example of this phenomenon as the Delaware Bay shorebird migration. Whether you visit bayshore shorebird gathering sites in Delaware or New Jersey, you will not be disappointed.  This Spring on May 27th, I birded the wetlands and beaches near Fortescue, Cumberland Co., NJ 

Shorebird feeding areas along the Delaware Bay

Satellite image of Fortescue Beach, Cumberland Co., NJ. The beach is protected and posted shorebird feeding area. Good viewing can be obtained from areas along the road.
The shorebird migration along the Delaware Bay begins in late April and gradually increases with a crescendo in late May and then dwindling through early June. These birds are taking part in a journey, thousands of years old, from their wintering grounds in South America to their breeding grounds in the North American tundra. Through yearly banding and re-trapping of these spring migrants, research has shown that the Delaware Bay is a strategic migration stop-over and refueling location as some birds fly non-stop from South America to the Delaware Bay and then some, after gorging on horseshoe crab eggs, make another non-stop flight to the tundra. 

Shorebirds and Horseshoe Crabs carrying on a thousand year tradition noisy feeding commotion is a spectacle to witness, as birds are calling, flying, swirling, fighting and feeding just a few yards away.  

It's nice to catch these birds on their northbound flight as many of them are very near full breeding plumage.  Here are a few species I saw when I was there:

American Oystercatcher


Red Knot


Ruddy Turnstone

Semipalmated Sandpiper

 Flocks of mixed shorebird species

Laughing Gull

While walking along the road I occasionally saw a few songbirds.

Orchard Oriole

Marsh Wren

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