Several of us from camera club made a pilgrimage trip down to visit the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge's Brigantine division and surrounding areas for a couple days of primarily bird photography. Located along the Atlantic flyway, this is a great spot to see both migrating birds and many shorebirds of various types. We like it because you can see a large number of birds in a relatively small area.
This refuge had been seriously battered by hurricane Sandy. Waves had destroyed the seven mile wildlife drive. The storm surge littered the refuge with over 100 boats, carrying fuel, oil, propane tanks, roofs, lumber, and many other potentially hazardous materials. The US F&WS has rebuilt the road, cleaned out much of the debris and is working hard to return the refuge back to more normal conditions to support the wildlife.
One theme of this year's trip was Oystercatchers. Certainly their orange eyes, help make them exotic and photogenic. Last year there were a couple, but they were somewhat distant and tough to photograph. Not this year. In fact one Oystercatcher built their nest right next to the edge of Wildlife Drive. So close that F&WS and to put out cones & tape to keep people a safe distance away and avoid accidentally running over the nest.
There are numerous shorebirds. Our trip was timed for days where the high tides corresponded with the morning sunrise and evening sunsets. If all goes well you get the photographer's dream of great light combined with tides pushing the birds closer to shore. We batted .500 with two nice sunrise / sunsets and two overcast.
Another treat was the many herons, egrets and ibises that are in the area. While we get them at home there are more of them, closer to the road, and somewhat less skittish. It also gave us a good opportunity to see the various sorts of marine life in the area.
As you would expect near the shore you also have a nice collecdtions of gulls, terns, cormorants, and skimmers.
After finishing your seven mile (one way) loop of wildlife drive, you drive for a mile or so through fields and forest. There we were likely to see more of the migrating birds that we see back home.
At Forsythe almost all the nesting platforms had pairs of osprey rebuilding their nests destroyed by Sandy.
Certainly this trip was much more enjoyable that last year's. (Of course not breaking your long lens and primary camera just before you leave, made it more fun from the outset. How did I enjoy the trip?