Saturday, April 11, 2009

Watchable Wildlife

There are lots of places to see wildlife in New Jersey and the New Jersey Wildlife Viewing Guide is a good directory to some of those places.

The guide lists 99 viewing sites for wildlife in NJ and was a joint effort of the ENSP and Defenders of Wildlife.

It contains eight eco-region tours for ecology-minded tourists.

There are well-known places like the Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area. This long, slender peninsula goes 6.5 miles into NY Harbor and has 1665 acres. Popular as a swimming beach in summer and fishing area year round, it is also a major beach nesting area.

The visitors center (2 miles in from entrance) can guide you to trails & observation areas, and warn you of nesting areas for piping plovers (at right), black skimmers, least terns and many shorebird species.

On the bay side, the Horseshoe Cove Salt Marsh is a good place to look for great blue herons, green herons and egrets. Offshore viewing from the beaches in summer may allow you a view of passing whales (hence the naming of the Spermaciti Cove Visitor Center)

From the Garden State Parkway, take exit 117 from the North or 105 from the south and follow signs on Rt. 36 for 12 miles. Admission is charged during summer season.

There are also areas less well-known, such as the Walkill National Wildlife Refuge. This large waterfowl habitat (7500 acres) is located along a 9 mile section of the Walkill river.

The Wallkill River NWR is located in Sussex County, New Jersey and Orange County, New York. Congress established the refuge in 1990 to preserve and enhance lands and waters in a manner that conserves the natural diversity of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for present and future generations. The management emphasis is on Federally-listed endangered and threatened species, migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, nesting and wintering grassland birds, and forest-dwelling birds.

There are three nature trails on the refuge. Each nature trail provides excellent wildlife viewing opportunity. In winter months, with proper snow conditions, cross country skiing and snowshoeing are allowed on these trails.

225 species of bird have been seen including 24 raptor species. The occasional black bear & bobcat are also seen. There is a wildlife observation deck, Wood Duck Trail & hundreds of acres of upland grassland.

The Refuge is near Sussex & Unionville. Follow Rt. 23 to Rt. 565 for 1.4 miles to the Refuge office.

This blog will feature other locations in the upcoming months.

You can also order the New Jersey Wildlife Viewing Guide by calling (609) 292-9400, or writing to the Division of Fish, Game, and Wildlife, Endangered and Nongame Species Program at P.O. Box 400, Trenton, NJ 08625-0400. The cost is $10.95 plus $3.95 for shipping and handling. Books may be purchased in person at the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center on Rt. 46 in Oxford and at various bookstores and nature centers throughout the state.

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