Get out and don’t miss this amazing phenomenon!
By Larissa Smith, Assistant Biologist
A red knot feeds on horsehsoe crabs on a Delaware Bay beach. © Bill Dalton
The Delaware Bay beaches are a busy place right now and not with sunbathers and beach goers, but with horseshoe crabs and birds! The horseshoe crabs are coming up onto the beaches to spawn and the shorebirds are arriving to feed on their eggs. It’s a great time to take a trip to the beaches to watch all the activity. The Delaware Bay is the Western Hemisphere’s second-largest spring concentration of shorebirds. The shorebirds arriving on the beaches include red knots, sanderlings, ruddy trunstones and semipalmated sandpipers. People come from all over the world to view this natural phenomenon taking place right here in NJ.
Beach access is restricted on critical beaches from May 8th through June 4th to allow the shorebirds to feed undisturbed. But there are still plenty of viewing areas. In Cape May County Reed’s Beach has a viewing platform that has a great view down the entire beach. Cook’s, Kimbells, Norburys and the Villas beaches all provide areas for viewing the shorebirds. In Cumberland County, Fortescue is another wonderful viewing spot. Please use the designated viewing areas and bring binoculars or a telescope so you can get a good look at the birds.
A sign informs the public about the closure of beaches to protect migratory shorebirds. © Ben Wurst
While you are out visiting the beaches you might run into one of CWF’s shorebird stewards. These dedicated volunteers are located at the closed beaches educating the public about the shorebirds. CWF had a new brochure printed this year, Spotting Shorebirds, Along the Delaware Bay, be sure to ask the steward for a copy of this so you can practice your shorebird ID. The stewards can also let you know on which beaches shorebirds have recently been spotted.
It really is worth the trip to see this spring migration, you won’t be disappointed. To find out the best beaches to view migratory shorebirds, check out our exclusive Wildlife Viewing Map.