My main reason for visiting Atlantic City last week was to meet up with a couple of photographers at the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Howie and Brian are experts at Forsythe as they photograph almost daily there and were great guides pointing out favorite locations of bird species. This allowed me to get a lot of photos of birds I probably would have missed had I been on my own.
Forsythe sits about 10 miles (16 km), as an osprey flies, north of Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was fascinating to see Ospreys nesting with the casinos in the background. People looked at me strangely each morning in the resort elevator when they asked me where I was going with my camera. They all had no idea such diverse wildlife lived so close by to the gaming salons.
Oystercatchers pry open mussels, clams and oysters with their long, strong orange beaks and suck out the meat.
Black-crowned Night Herons are stout herons about as tall as a Great Blue Heron’s legs.
Willets forage on mudflats or in shallow water, probing or picking up food by sight. They mainly eat insects, crustaceans and marine worms.
Clapping Rails make loud “clapping” sounds and rarely fly preferring to walk in and out of thick foliage in the salt marshes. This guy just finished his bath for the day.
Caspian terns are fast birds which I had a lot of fun trying to photograph in flight. In fact, I had to go with the faster focusing Nikon 28-300mm AFS VR FX lens to capture them.
Great Egrets were posing for their portraits along the Wildlife Drive as they hunted for food near water drains.
The most exciting bird for me to see and photograph was the Black Skimmers who have a longer lower mandible designed to “skim” through the water to grab small fish, eels, insects, crustaceans and mollusks.
I had a lot of fun with Howie and Brian. Howie was my guide driving me around the wildlife refuge and making sure I saw his favorite bird subjects. You may have noticed I was using a Nikon D7000 dSLR DX camera for some of these photos. I have Brian to thank for that as he had an extra one I could use. This let me take advantage of the cropped body giving my Nikon 80-400VR lens a reach of 600mm and a better sensor than my old Nikon D70.