Friday, July 2, 2010
May 23, 2010 Cloudy with a sprinkle of rain, Reeds Beach NJ
The noise hit us hard as we stepped out of the car, feasting birds were everywhere: on the beach, feasting on the mudflats, skittering about on the sandbars and standing ankle high in the water. Hundreds of Semipalmated Sandpipers darted about in what you could call herds but that doesn't really work on birds. Laughing Gulls were laughing from each and every direction. Red Knots paced about like birds with very hard decisions on their minds (they were probably contemplating if they should stay here at this beach, the second best restaurant in town or move on to be squished and shoved at one of the biggest planned events of the year (which we would be going to in a few minutes but first let me finish my list)). A Great Egret stood like a statue in the amazingly calm waters of the North Atlantic Ocean while Snowy Egrets darted after fish with their long swan-like necks and a Short-Billed Dowitcher landed for a short time, just long enough for me to get some nice shots.
Now we were off to Reeds Beach which wasn't that far from where we were birding. Reeds Beach was not much of a walk really - it only had thirty feet of trail which stretched from the gravel parking lot to the beach. We stood atop the viewing platform and watched in amazement as hundreds of knots fed on Horseshoe Crab eggs. The birds had specially planned this spot on their migration to their Arctic nesting grounds and were reaping their just rewards for a well timed vacation. Though most of the beach was empty of birds, the vast majority of them had decided on feeding right below the place where we and the other birders were standing. There were a dozen birders or so with us including a very high tech photographer who had covered his head and most of his camera with a black cloth. Birds were in some places so packed that the sand looked like it had turned red and learned how to move. There were a few knots with bands on their feet. The band rested on what would be our knees but on birds are considered their ankle. Birds walk on their toes, their ankles are where their knees should be and their knees are up by their hips which can be very confusing at times.
Red Knots were lifers for me. What a great way to end a vacation!
Ahead of us was a long six hour drive though torrential rain home.
(Thanks Lala and Da!)