One of my favorite birds is the osprey. Ospreys are nesting at Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge and this year they’ve installed a camera on the nest! You can watch the ospreys LIVE on this webcam, 24 hours a day.
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!
Alexandra and Stephanie had luck on their side last Friday. All day long the weather looked cloudy, dreary, grey and bleak. It really looked like rain. Will it rain? Will the campfire be canceled? Around 4:30pm the sun finally peeked out from behind the clouds and showed itself.
We had a great time at the Refuge! When we first got there, we walked over to the milkweed patch. There is a large patch of common milkweed in front of the headquarters building. Stephanie, Alexandra and I started turning over leaves looking for signs of monarch caterpillars and eggs. As I scanned the patch, I saw plants that were obviously eaten. “Let’s look there!” We went over to the nibbled on plants and there they were! Four tiny monarch caterpillars, probably first instars. One of them still had the black face mask of a one day old caterpillar. So cool!
Next we went over to the campfire site. Barry, Pete, Christine and Debbie were waiting to start. They are a few of the wonderful people who volunteer for the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge. Barry instructed the group of families to take a nature walk first, then come back for the campfire and singing. The girls were very excited and could not contain their smiles. 🙂
We all had a nice walk down to Gull Pond and Gull Pond Tower. See if you can find Gull Pond by clicking on the map here. Along the way we saw many red-winged blackbirds, great egrets and catbirds. The kids never got tired of pointing out another bird. The fog began to roll back in as we made our way back along Gull Pond Road. By the time we got back to the campfire, the fog was in and the temperature had dropped. That was okay because we had the fire and friends to keep us warm. Axavier D. and his mom came and brought marshmallows and sticks on which to roast them. What a nice treat! We sang songs and danced and laughed. Everyone roasted marshmallows and ate their burnt treats until they couldn’t eat anymore. As we started to sing the last song, the gnats found us and started to get in our eyes, ears, noses and hair. Barry noticed our distress and ended the songs.
Pete and the girls dance and sing to the “The Blubber Song.”
Yummy! Nothing tastes quite as good as marshmallows roasted over an open fire.
Everyone had a wonderful time at the Refuge. I hope more of you will visit the Refuge and see for yourself all that it has to offer. Come for a hike or a bike ride. Bring your binoculars and see how many egrets you can see. Take a slow walk down to Gull Pond. Feel the wind blowing across your face. Breathe and listen. Smile.
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!