What a nice time we had at the Refuge this past Thursday morning! Kerlanda, Javion, Brianna (John’s daughter), Teacher Ruth and I helped Alan Jackson band 130 purple martin chicks at the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, NJ. The kids had a great time helping Mr. Jackson and the other Refuge volunteers with the purple martin chicks. Kerlanda and Javion even got to band a chick themselves! Each chick receives a silver Federal ID band and a purple NJ State ID band, one on each leg. Each band has a special ID of numbers and letters on the bands. Scientists can use these ID bands to determine loads of information about the bird: age, how far the bird has traveled, where it was banded, etc. Now that we are done banding, we won’t be monitoring the nests again until next year. The purple martins will stick around until mid-August when they will begin their long migration to Brazil!
“Don’t you answer your phone?” she shouted at me.
“I am shopping at Petsmart with Scruffy. What is going on?” I nervously asked.
“There is a lady at Trump Marina with two ducklings. No momma in sight. They followed her to her boat and she has them in a box. Can you PLEASE pick them up?”
“Yes, give me her phone number and I will call her.”
30 minutes later, I now have two peeping, teeny mallard ducklings in the back seat. Scruffy nervously pricks his ears to every tiny peep that comes from the box. It is getting late and I am due to drive to John’s house tonight. What should I do? I can’t drive the ducklings anywhere tonight. I am going to have to care for them now until I can get them to a rehabber.
When we arrive home, I carry the ducklings and Scruffy from the car to the yard. Scruffy bolts for the door as I gingerly carry my precious load into the house. I set up the ducks in the bathroom, soften some duck chow with water and place it next to them in the tub. Yummy! They eagerly dig into the chow, peeping loudly.
Fast forward to Saturday morning. Ducklings are now at John’s house, a playground for wild animals. They run around the yard, jump into the pond, swim around to their heart’s content. I watch them patiently and cautiously, as a momma would. Are they in the water too long? are they cold? hungry? I grab them from the duckweed and dry them with a towel. They huddle next to me for warm and security, snuggling next to each other, peeping softly.
Fast forward again, Sunday afternoon. I carry the box of ducklings to the rehabber who takes them with a smile. “I will take good care of them,” he reassures me.
“I know you will, thanks again!” I try to sound cheerful. I had really grown attached to those little fuzzy-headed babies. I can’t raise ducks, I tell myself. That is why there are people trained to care for injured or orphaned animals. He will make sure the ducklings are well cared for and then released back into the wild where they belong…
We took our second walk to the swamp today to go birdwatching with the first graders. Today was a blustery day, quite windy and about 72 degrees. The kids in Mrs. Primas’ class were as excited as my class was. I always think my class won’t want to go to the swamp again and again, but they never get tired of it. Then again, neither do I. 🙂
We had an amazing time! Ms. Primas always brings the birds to us when we birdwatch at the swamp. One time when we took one of her classes we saw a family of geese and their six goslings! Another time we saw a large flock of cedar waxwings flitting and chirping in the trees. Today we saw a bunch of great egrets and red-winged blackbirds. The class photographer (Malachi) was snapping away the entire time. His work is posted here. I believe this young man has an eye for photography. He definitely takes much better photos than I. Great photographs, Malachi!
Last night was the first campfire, sing-a-long and nature walk at the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, New Jersey. We did a month’s worth of campfires last fall and they were a BIG SUCCESS, so we are doing them again! Barry and Marcia play guitar and sing a variety of songs about Nature and the Refuge. Peter and John usually tend to the campfire, but we didn’t light one this week because it was too windy! A bunch of Refuge volunteers and friends (including Adam and Malachi!) went on a cool nature walk through the refuge! We saw red-winged blackbirds, great blue herons and even an osprey that was fishing! What a great way to spend a Friday night–at the Refuge!