Monday, August 17, 2015

Shorebirds Make Their August Return to New Jersey

Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii) by Dominic Sherony [CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Via the "Seen in New Jersey" column written by Pete Bacinski (New Jersey birder and retired NJ Audubon All Things Birds program director) comes the reminder that shorebirds are now returning from nesting grounds in the high Arctic to the Jersey shore.

Like many NJ people, these birds have found that the late summer and after Labor Day are very nice times to enjoy our state. People think of migrations as an autumn event, but in this case this part of August is the time for neotropic migrant passerines, or perching birds, to migrate and it is the peak of shorebird migration. Pete says that the second half of August has the highest shorebird diversity of the year.

This is a great time to see birds foraging in mudflats, sandy beaches, sod farms and grassy areas. A choice spot is the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge has 47,000 acres of marshland and forest and the Brigantine Division in Galloway is the place to be for shorebirds at this time of year.

Other locations worth checking:
  • Barnegat Impoundments, in Barnegat Township, also part of Forsythe NWR
  • TNC Meadows in Cape May
  • Stone Harbor
  • Island Beach State Park
  • Sandy Hook (north end)
  • New Jersey Meadowlands, around the DeKorte Environment Center
  • Whitesbog cranberry bogs and mudflats (when drained)
Baird's sandpiper (shown at top) and the buff-breasted sandpiper, as well as the rare American golden plover love sod farms and grassy fields in places like Brigantine.These two sandpipers (AKA grasspipers) don't appear here in spring migration because they take a central flyway when they head north. Upland sandpipers, a New Jersey endangered species, is ending its migration through NJ now.

New Jersey Audubon's All Things Birds will sponsor these birding field trips:

Aug. 23: Forsythe (Brigantine) National Wildlife Refuge
Aug. 30: Forsythe (Brigantine) National Wildlife Refuge
There is a fee for these events: $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers. For more information or to register, call the Scherman-Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuaries at (908) 766-5787.

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