Wet areas like marshes and swamps are extremely productive for a variety of plants and animals, especially birds. Many species of birds live out their entire lives near these wet areas. Here is a juvenile Black-crowned night-heron which, according to Cornell University’s All About Birds website, is one of the most wide spread species in the world. According to Cornell, “With a range that spans five continents, including much of North America, the Black-crowned Night-Heron is the most widespread heron in the world. It is most active at dusk and at night, feeding in the same areas that other heron species frequent during the day.”
This young fellow simply stood on the mudflat and watched me as I took several photos. He didn’t seem at all preturbed by my presence or any of the dozens of cars which drove by while I observed him.
Double-crested cormorant is another common species along the New Jersey shore. These birds are experts at fishing but must leave the water periodically to allow their feathers to dry. Unlike most other water fowl, their feathers lack the natural oils that would help keep them afloat. As they remain in the water, they slowly become less bouyant and will gradually begin to sink. You can tell how long a cormorant has been fishing by how much of his body remains above the water’s surface. Looks like these two were just getting started.
Clapper rails are very secretive bird and are much more often heard than seen. However, at low tide , you might get lucky enough to find one foraging along the water’s edge – like this fellow. The body of Clappers, like many of the rails, are laterally compressed so that they appear very thin for their height. Ever heard the saying “thin as a rail”?
This bird hung out for quite some time along the water’s edge and allowed me to capture this image. All together, a pretty neat day in the marsh!