|Winter Birding Along Jersey Shore
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A snowy owl at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in New Jersey on December 11, 2013.
This year is unusual to have many snowy owls migrated south from arctic areas to New Jersey and other
Northeast USA areas. There are many reported sighting of snowy owls in Northeast USA in this winter. New
Jersey Audubon indicates that up to three snowy owls have been sighted in this NWR recently. We came
here on December 11, 2013 and saw this one.
This NWR has an 8-mile Auto Driving Loop for visitors to drive their own cars slowly along this loop to enjoy
watching various bird activities. Usually at any hot spot, there will be several cars stopped and parked there
and several bird watchers set up one or more tripods with various kinds of cameras and telescopes all aiming
at the same spot. We asked them about what they were watching and they told us snowy owl. In this way,
we had much better chance of seeing the snowy owl in this NWR. It is unlikely for visitors to miss such
important sighting because of such Hot Spot phenomenon on the 8-mile Auto Driving Loop.
I also took a movie clip of this snowy owl as shown in the following YouTube website:
Many pintails were busy eating something in the water.
Many ducks all have their heads down in the water busily eating something.
We saw at least three herons in this NWR on December 11, 2013.
Two of huge number of shore birds in this NWR busily eating something on the mudflat and shallow water.
I took a movie clip of the shore birds in rapidl-fire action busily eating something on the mudflat as shown in
the following YouTube website:
Many shore birds busily eating something all over this NWR.
A peregrine falcon (隼) was also busily eating something.
Some snow geese were flying in formation very far away.
There were also many gulls.
Some mallards were also busily eating something.
Some black ducks.
In the late afternoon of December 21, 2013, I came to the 800-acre large tidal basin (Back Bay) of Shark
River between Belmar and Avon-By-The-Sea near New Jersey Shore for bird watching. I saw a long raft of
huge number of sea birds (may be Brant) as shown in these two pictures. These two pictures show only a
section of the long raft which extends very long to the left side and the right side of these pictures. I was at the
southern end of Belmar Marina watching these birds far away in the middle of the large tidal basin. I used my
compact super-zoom camera (with 50X optical zoom) and zoomed all the way in to get such pictures.
There were also many swan in the large tidal basin as viewed from the southern end of Belmar Marina
located at 905 Rte 35, Belmar, New Jersey 07719. The 800-acre Tidal Basin (Back Bay) of Shark River has
several places around the bay for bird watching.
Some buffleheads in the large Shark River tidal basin
Many gulls on the sand bar in the middle of the large tidal basin of Shark River during low tide
Beautiful sunset view as viewed from southern end of Belmar Marina.
There are also several other lakes for winter birding, including a bald eagle nest, near the shore in the areas of
Belmar, Avon-By-The-Sea and Spring Lake as described on my web page at:
Location and Direction for Edwin B. Forsythe (Brigantine) National Wildlife Refuge:
Address: (East End of) E. Great Creek Road, P.O. Box 72, Oceanville, New Jersey 08231
(or East End of East Lily Lake Road, (off Highway 9), Oceanville, New Jersey 08231)
1. From Garden State Parkway South Bound, (just after going over Mullica River Bridge) take Exit 48 to
get on Highway 9 South
2. Stay on Highway 9 South for several miles until you reach the traffic light of intersection of Highway
9 and E. Great Creek Road
3. Turn left into E. Great Creek Road (East bound).
4. Continue on E. Great Creek Road for about one mile all the way to get into Forsythe (Brigantine)
National Wildlife Refuge (NWR)
5. Continue to the entrance of NWR. There is a parking lot with restroom and drinking water facility
near entrance. Pay your fee at the Fee Station then drive onto the 8-mile, one way, rectangular loop
of unpaved Dike to enjoy bird watching on both sides. (Senior people with Golden Age Pass can
enjoy FREE entrance to all national parks, national recreation areas and national wildlife refuges in
USA. Senior people can get a Golden Age Pass by paying $10 only once in any office of any
national park throughout USA.)
Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of Entrance to Edwin B. Forsythe NWR
Where to Eat: After touring Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, some visitors may be hungry and
looking for a place to eat. Smithville Square Shopping Center off Route 9 is only about 2 or 3 miles north of
Edwin B. Forsythe (Brigantine) National Wildlife Refuge. It is at the southwest corner of Intersection of Route
9 and Smithville Blvd. There is a traffic light at this intersection. The entrance to Smithville Square Shopping
Center is from Smithville Blvd. There is a Foodtown Supermarket, a Chinese Restaurant (King’s Wok Gourmet
Chinese Restaurant, Phone: 609-748-1911/1935 ), a Pizza Restaurant, and other stores in Smithville Square
Shopping Center. The street address of Smithville Square Shopping Center is: 45 South New York Road (i.e.,
Route 9), Smithville, NJ 08205.
Map: Click here to see Google Map showing location of Smithville Shopping Center
Another option is to drive south a few miles to Atlantic City where there are several luxurious restaurants in
several Casinos and along the board walk.
On February 21, 2018, I visited tidal basin of Shark River again. It was a cloudy day with light rain. I saw
many swans and Brant again as viewed from Belmar Marina.