Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey - Places to Go and Things to Do

A discussion of things to do and paces to go, with the purpose of sharing, and encouraging exploration of South Jersey.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rare Bird Sightings at Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

Yesterday, Saturday, November 28th, my two most devoted hiking buddies gave me an adventure for my birthday (Nov. 13).  They had booked us for a tram tour of Forsythe.  First we had lunch at Smithville, at the Lantern Inn, tomato bisque soup and vegetarian egg rolls, a good hearty warming lunch for a cloudy but warm day.

Smithville was decorated for the upcoming Christmas holiday season and filled with happy families strolling and we all enjoyed sightings and photos with Santa Claus!

My two frinds, Barbara Solem and Brbara Spector are birders and they visit Forsythe regularly.  I have been there hiking before, but not for birding.  There were few birds there on Saturday, most, I suppose, have finished their migrations, but we were surprised and delighted to have the experience of sighting two rare birds.  First, Barbara Solem sighted an "odd duck" amidst the white geese.  She looked him up, conferred with our tour guide and other passengers and finally the consensus was that he was indeed a rare Greenland Barnacle Duck, a bird not averse to inserting himself into groups of other types of ducks and geese.  It was a thing to inspire a great deal of thinking as well a wonder.  He was alone of his kind, but had sought the companionship of others, different from him, but accepting of him into their midst.  We couldn't imagine why he was there, what set of circumstances caused him to be separate from his own kind and in a place where he would not normally be seen.  The coast of North America is not a usual place for that duck.

Next we saw a line of cars parked along the side of the sandy track, and we asked the the birders watching through their binoculars and taking photos with their big lensed cameras, what they were watching.   A kindly young man told us it was a Scissortail flycatcher, another rare bird.  In exchange for his generous sharing of info we told him about the Greenland barnacle duck we had seen.  He and his family packed up and went back to the spot where we had seen the duck.  To my surprise and delight, I was not only able to see the scissortail with my binoculars but with my naked eyes!  My eyesight has been failing slowly due to Fuch's Dystrophy, which is why I wouldn't have taken up birding as a hobby.  But this time, I spotted the bird right off and was able to point him out to others in the group.  True, I couldn't really see his distinguishing characterics like the others could, but I saw his body.  Others said he had been there since 7:00 a.m. which I presume indicates they had also!  That's dedication!

I've been indoors a good bit lately with just a few hikes in the Pines to keep Trixie and myself somewhat active.  Trixie has an ear infection and my oldest cat, Dexter has been sick and I've been caught up in feeding times and medications as well as trips to the vet and the animal hospital.  Tomorrow, to my deep sorrow, Dexter will have to make his last trip to our family vet, Dr. Ed. Sheehen, in Fairview.  His intractable bladder obstructions and failing kidneys and liver, as well as his weak heart, make any additional intervention unnecessary cruelty.  He has been my friend for 18 years.  It is a sorrowful time at our house.  However, I adopted three little kittens a month ago, and they do their best to entertain us and cheer us up (me, Trixie, Little Yock and Lucky).  It is the cycle of life and I am certainly glad I gave in to the impulse to adopt them as a family group.  They had already been separated from their mother at too early an age, nursed to healthy by the dedicated staff at Dr. Sheehen's Veterinary Center, so I wanted to let them stay together, a brother and two sisters.  Later, I will post some photos here.

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

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