Beth and I have taking a little mini vacation this weekend. We did some day trips to some New Jersey wineries and visited some antique markets looking to be inspired for decorating our house. While visiting some of the south Jersey wineries yesterday, we had the opportunity to take a detour to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, known to NJ birders as "Brigantine" or just "Brig." A Roseate Spoonbill has been seen on and off here for the last two weeks. This is the second record for NJ, the other being a single observer. I felt like the last NJ birder to not see this bird.
Upon arriving, we immediately headed to the "Gull Tower" area where the bird had been seen most often. Another birder, who had been there for over an hour, said that the Spoonbill had not been seen in about 4 hours. I searched the area a bit seeing a Caspian Tern and some Glossy Ibis, along with many Great and Snowy Egrets. A Green Heron called overhead and a flying Least Bittern was a great find. No Spoonbill yet!
We decided to take the "wildlife drive" around the wetland impoundments which is a great experience during any season. The whole area was swarming with gulls, terns, Black Skimmers, and thousands of shorebirds. A typical scene looked something like this:
The sky was pretty overcast and many of the birds were far, but I was able to identify MANY Least and Semi-palmated Sandpipers and Short-billed Dowitchers, as well as some Western Sandpipers, Whimbrels, Pectoral Sandpipers, and a few Stilt Sandpipers. There were many Semi-palmated Plovers, both Yellowlegs, and Willets sprinkled in as well.
We continued around the loop where I got great photos of a Snowy Egret, but I missed a photo of a very bald Red-winged Blackbird.
On the last leg of the wildlife drive, we were following another car when suddenly something large and pink was spooked up from the marsh close to the road. It flew towards our car and landed directly next to it in a small channel between the road and the marsh. The Roseate Spoonbill was gorgeous in all of its pink-ness. It posed for moments, before it took off not to be seen by us again. I was able to get a few crappy pictures. Beth got to see her life Roseate Spoonbill and I got to see a great bird on NJ land.
The highlight for me though was a pair of young kids, no older than 12 or 13, who were in the car in front of ours. They hopped out of the car and were so amazingly excited to see the Spoonbill. They were jumping up and down, trying to catch their breath, and just saying, "Oh my gosh, it's a Roseate Spoonbill!" over and over again. It was really fun to watch and it's always great to see some young birders.
We finished up our day by driving through the lovely NJ shore traffic and having dinner at one of our favorite spots: Harold's New York Deli - home to gigantic, fantastic pastrami sandwiches.