Christmas Eve Bird Watching and a Snowy Owl in South Jersey

Snow Geese

Happy New Year, actually I’ve been saying “Happy Better New Year!!” It’s hard to believe this year has gone by so fast, yet so slow, painful, sad, with so much loss. I lost a dear friend this week to Covid19 – Abana Jacobs, who worked at Subaru in the environmental department. Each day she promoted recycling, and reuse; she was so enthusiastic while doing so. I’ll miss her so as so many people will as well in our area. The Cherry Blossom event in Fairmount Park will be dedicated to her this spring I’ve been told. I wasn’t able to visit my family for the holidays so Mike and I headed to Atlantic City for rest, relaxation and re setting at Ocean Casino Resort ie the former Revel (I’ll write more of that trip tomorrow). Before we checked in we headed to Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge for a little bird watching, especially the elusive Snowy Owl. I often go there for bird and wildlife watching all year round. I was just there 12/10 looking for the snowy owl.

I had been tracking the Snowy Owl for about 3 years now. A rare sight around here as the Snowy is a native of the Arctic, Canada and upper North America. About 3 years ago a few have been sighted in our area. Most of the time they were sighted on the beach in New Jersey between Sandy Hook and Brigantine, and most of the time you really have no idea exactly where to look as those seeing them keep it a secret as to not draw attention to many gawkers (I have been fortunate to have other birders give me locations, but I didn’t want to trek out on the beach in 30f weather, lol). But last year, and earlier this year there had been sightings at Edwin B. Forsythe in Galloway Twp. (Which is about 40 minutes from Phila, and has a car touring loop. You don ‘t even have to get out of the car to see the wildlife. Most of these shots I took with just the window down)
I knew I had a better chance of finding him there as I knew the grounds better there since taking up bird watching, wildlife photography about 4 years ago, getting more serious about it in the passed two years.

I did have grand plans to arrive early, Mike even got up at 530am in anticipation. But I was still doing research about which birds had been sighted where in South Jersey, so as to create our itinerary. Someone had seen the Snowy Owl at the preserve, and as luck would have it even arriving 5 hrs later, I was able to see the jolly fellow. And look at the smile on his face, he was happy to see us.

I found him by noting the dozen of cars parked at one spot, with lots of lenses poking out of the window.
Breeding Male Buffleheads

Northern Pintails car pooling
It’s so beautiful and peaceful to drive on the loop, even on the busy days. I was surprised how beautiful it was even when the grass turned brown during the cooler months.
A the blue goose surrounded by snow geese. Hundreds of snow geese flew over us, you should see our car. We’ll have good luck for years.
Shore Birds. Someday I might know their names. (Thank you Jack Carter for informing me about what birds these are: dunlins ) In the meantime I’ll continue to take their photos for us to enjoy. Have a great day and make sure you look around, you too will see beautiful birds around you.