Sunday, December 28, 2014

Brigantine Birds

In a now-annual Christmas tradition (five years running!), I took a trip with Paul's dad on Tuesday out to the Brigantine division of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge while we were visiting family in New Jersey for the holidays. With an eight-mile wildlife drive through coastal wetlands, this is a pretty special place, and there are always lots of interesting birds hanging around. Some of the coolest creatures are the Snow Geese that come down from their arctic breeding grounds to overwinter here in huge numbers:

We estimated the Snow Geese on Tuesday numbered somewhere in the thousands. They made quite a sight blanketing the marsh as they foraged, and they were striking in flight as well, with those black-tipped wings:

Most of the Snow Geese wore pristine white costumes:

But there were a few blue morph individuals as well; I think these birds are particularly handsome:

Here's a (very) brief video of some of the Snow Geese foraging; the sound should give an idea of how crowded the area was with these birds:

Lots of other cool birds made an appearance during our visit as well. This gorgeous Great Blue Heron was hunting near the road:

A Greater Yellowlegs (such an appropriate name!) brightened up the shoreline:

And there were ducks all over the place. We saw big American Black Ducks that flashed the iridescent patches in their wings as they bathed:

Buffleheads that dipped in and out of the water, pursuing their meals:

Ruddy Ducks with their funny round bodies and big beaks:

Flashy Hooded Mergansers:

And a single female Common Goldeneye, looking quite pretty in her simple costume:

It was great to get out to the shore and see so many creatures. What an awesome place!

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