Edwin B. Forsythe NWR in New Jersey - Part 2
In the second of my three part series about my visit to Edwin B. Forsythe NWR in New Jersey I focus primarily on egrets with a dose of Black Skimmers. Egrets were plentiful along the auto drive route providing several photo opportunities.
At 38 - 39 inches in length the Great Egret is a tall, slender white heron with a bright yellow bill. Above a Great Egret has folded its long neck back on itself. Perhaps it was attempting to reduce the impact of gusty winds that day. The Edwin B. Forsythe NWR provides ideal habitat for this large, impressive all-white heron.
Great Egret almost always hunts in standing or flowing water, moving slowly with a deliberate stalking motion like the one shown above (Dunne, 2006). One of the common poses is seen in the above photo; its neck retracted into a graceful S-shaped curve. On dry land it captures lizards, small rodents and insects.
Above a few Black Skimmers are seen skimming low and dipping in some cases dipping their extended lower mandible in water. When a Black Skimmer comes in contact with food it snaps its mandible shut. The adult is black above with a white face and underparts. With its long wings and extended mandible, this species is unmistakable. Flight is almost always low and just above the surface of the water (Dunne, 2006). Later on during my trip to Cape May I spotted close to 200 Black Skimmers along a beach just before sunrise one morning.
The medium-sized Snowy Egret is about half the size of a Great Egret (see photo below). Its thin dark bill distinguishes it from the bright yellow bill of a Great Egret. Yellow lores can be seen (above photo) at the base of the bill. Also shown above is one of its bright yellow feet. Great Egret, on the other hand (see first photo) has all black feet.
I'm not quite sure exactly what was going on in the photo above. If it were breeding season, I'd say it was some kind of display; however, given the time of year, perhaps it was more like a territorial dispute. Snowy Egrets frequently associate with Great Egrets, which certainly is the case here. A Boat-tailed Grackle decided to photo bomb this photo.
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