Today was also a 'no fee' day at Forsythe since the refuge had closed Wildlife Drive from the dogleg to the end. But that was okay since low tide was going to allow me a chance to double back and perhaps see birds I missed.
Starting at Gull Pond.....I saw a group of ladies with a PA license out of their car staring at something so I meandered over. Two of them appeared to be from Stockton College and were obviously interested in birding. Now, I find that simply awesome. What a treat it is to see a younger generation paying their respects and interest to the environment and wildlife. If nothing else, that made my day and reaffirmed my belief that perhaps the environment has a chance.
As I peered beyond their line of sight I saw what they were looking at...a nice looking hawk in the trees a couple of hundred yards away. It was a bit masked between branches and was facing tail-end to us, so what the heck, I had all day so might as well wait it out and watch it fly off with the hope of affording me a better view to ID with. In the meantime, a couple of my favorite raptors; Northern Harriers flew by, swooped...dove...hovered over the marsh and then just disappeared. I like harriers.
It wasn't long before the hawk grew tired of perching and took off. It never neared me, but I could tell it was a red-shouldered which is fairly common around these parts. Cool...not a bad way to start my day.
Backtracking and nearing the entrance to Wildlife Drive I could see a flock of something, way off in the distance at it mirrored the Atlantic City Skyline of casinos. Now, in regards to 'flocks of anything'...have you noticed that we are not as privileged as in the past of seeing such huge flocks that block out sections of the sky? Sad to see that but a fact as all of us have read about the diminishing bird counts so to see this flock and large in number was a thrill. Sadly they were too far away to ID but I would guess snow geese given the numbers at Forsythe. .
So down the drive I went....admittedly nothing spectacular seen but nothing wrong with appreciating what is the 'normal'. For instance, next time you see some Northern Pintails, take note of the clean swatch of white they have and reminiscent of the Nike swash, or the pintail itself. Does anyone really notice that anymore or do we just call them pintails and move on?
Or....Buffleheads are cool looking black and white jobbies too with the male showing a clean cut between bottom halves. Or ruddy ducks look like those plastic yellow ducks one would give a grandchild...or even those hooded mergansers I saw with the regality of statesmen and women as toppers. But the highlight of my bird day had to be the snow geese. By sheer numbers, the snow geese made the top of my list today. Located on the return end of the drive, I stopped and rolled down my window....and eventually got out of the car braving the snappy wind that permeated my wool coat. The sound of a few thousand snow geese honking away is always a nice calling from nature. I wouldn't mind possessing human 'super powers' of knowing what animals/birds are saying or thinking. What are these guys thinking...who are they honking at and what are they honking? How far can a honk be heard? Can a bird tell which honk is friend or foe among their own kind? Not sure..... but surely I will wake up tonight with that thought and in a deep rem, I will no doubt in my mind at that time of the night, come up with answers to those questions.
A good day of normal birding......