Conserve Wildlife Blog

Report from the Barnegat Bay Birder in Residence

September 15th, 2010

Great birding at Island Beach State Park

by Skyler Streich, Barnegat Bay Birder-in-Residence

American Oystercatcher. © Chris Davidson

As the Barnegat Bay Birder-in-Residence for CWF of NJ I led a total of 4 Bird Walks and 4 Birding by Kayak Tours in Island Beach State Park.  It was very successful with a total of 60 people attending the Birding by Kayak trips and a total of 34 participants for my bi-weekly bird walks.  There were many repeat customers, mostly from participants that enjoyed the Birding by Kayak trips so much so they wanted to attend my bird walks too.  The participants ranged from beginners to excellent and avid birdwatchers.  So it was a nice mix of skill levels of bird identification abilities on the trips.  The Birding by Kayak tours were sponsored by the Friends of Island Beach State Park, so they advertised those tours via the IBSP Visitor Guide.  As for my bird walks I advertised them by printing out flyers and distributing them to local businesses like Big Ed’s produce, Lavallette Post Office, Wild Birds Unlimited and Cattus Island County Park.  Also Pete Bacinski of Sandy Hook posted my walks in the Rare Bird Alerts which is posted on the JerseyBirds forum. And of course, they were posted on CWF’s Calendar of Events.

The tours were extremely successful in seeing all of the common birds of the Barnegat Bay area as well as numerous uncommon to rare sightings.  Each kayak tour gave participants the chance to see and compare all the herons and egrets that inhabit the saltmarshes of Barnegat Bay.  Each tour there were juvenile Little Blue Herons, which are all white, and the later tours had Black-crowned Night Herons.  More than once we got to see beautiful and not too common shorebirds like Whimbrels and Marbled Godwits along with the much more common sandpipers and plovers.  Other great shorebirds seen on the BBK trips were Pectoral Sandpipers and a Solitary Sandpiper.  We even had a Caspian Tern amongst the Royal Terns.  It seems that Ospreys were even more abundant this year than last year, with plenty of hatch year juveniles around in late July and August.  Also, American Oystercatchers seemed unusually abundant this year.

Piping plover. © Steve Byland

The bird walks also produced some exciting and uncommon birds.  Least Terns seemed to be in pretty high numbers in August.  Also we had multiple Black Tern sightings in and around the inlet area.  One of the best finds was a group of 8 Common Eiders that decided not to migrate to their arctic breeding grounds and just stay in Island Beach for the summer. We also had 1 single Piping Plover feeding amongst the Sanderlings and Semipalmated Plovers on the shoreline.  That was only the second Piping Plover I have ever seen at IBSP in my life.  So all in all, it was a very successful season with very successful tours and each participant walked away with a greater appreciation of the magnificent birdlife that relies on the Barnegat Bay area for their survival.

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