I will get back to my NYC pictures in the next post, but I figure some New Jersey parks are the next best thing, especially for a Super Park Saturday. Birds were the theme of this last weekend. We camped in the Pinelands, and went to sleep both nights to the sound of whippoorwills. On Saturday, we went to Island Beach State Park, where there are several beaches for swimming, and a trail that leads to a small bird blind on the bay side of the island.
While in the blind, we thought we saw a Canada goose. But closer inspection revealed what I think is a brant. I have no idea what he's doing in New Jersey at this time of year; the information I read says that brants winter in the area but are not year-round residents. This guy missed the memo, I guess, because I'm not sure what other type of bird he could be.
The blind also enabled us to watch a snowy egret stalking along the edges of the water. Later in the day, we visited Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, which has an 8-mile scenic drive through a vast expanse of wetlands and tidal marshes. Here, we saw a flock of black skimmers:
Skimmers feed by flying low along the water, dipping their lower jaw into the surf, and scooping up dinner. I haven't seen a skimmer since an evening in Alabama, when Sandy and I were on our Great Southern Roadtrip of 2005 :)
Also at Forsythe, we saw a Mama swan and three cygnets (I had to look up the word for baby swans) :) These are mute swans, which are an Old World species introduced as decorative birds for parks and farm ponds. But of course some have escaped and live and reproduce in the wild.