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Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is made up of over 43,000 acres of southern New Jersey coastal land (see PDF map). Here, habitats are actively protected and managed for migratory birds as administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Refuge's location is in one of the Atlantic Flyway's most active flight paths for migratory birds.

Most of Forsythe Refuge is tidal salt marsh with shallow coves and bays that provide an important resting and feeding habitat for water birds. The quiet tidal waters serve as nurseries, spawning and feeding grounds for fish and shellfish, important in the diets of many wildlife species. An assortment of marsh vegetation also provides important food and cover for wildlife.

The Brigantine division offers an 8-mile loop road (see PDF map), and two foot trails where you'll have excellent wildlife viewing and photo opportunities. It also has 1,415 acres of fresh and brackish-water marsh habitat for wildlife, to attract and support a wider variety of wildlife than the salt marsh alone. An Information Office and Auditorium are in the Refuge headquarters building, open weekdays 8:00PM to 4:00PM.

The one-way loop road is of dirt, and the speed limit is 15 MPH, although most vehicles go even slower. There is ample space for stopping to observe and/or take photos. Hikers and bikers also traverse the road, though when the greenheads (biting flies) are out, it might be more judicious to stay in the car! Many, many species of birds, from songbirds to eagles, can be found here at different seasons.

Here are some photos from an early September visit:

Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
View from the parking area, with observation platform in the background
Atlantic City skyline as seen from Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Brigantine
In an almost surrealistic panorama, the Atlantic City skyline looms in the distance.
A cormorant takes in the sun at Forsythe
A young Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) takes in the warm afternoon sun.
Great Egret in flight at Forsythe Wildlife Refuge near Atlantic City, NJ
A Great Egret (Ardea alba) takes flight.

A pair of Sandwich Terns (Sterna Sandvicensis) looking for dinner.

The shallow mudflats provide a cornocopia of food for migrating birds of all sizes!

Two herons out for a snack.
Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
Besides the birds, the flora of the area is stunning!
James F. Akers Woodland Trail at Forsythe
The James F. Akers Woodland Trail is great for siting songbirds.
James F. Akers Woodland Trail - sign
Isaac G. Hound
Isaac G. Hound eagerly awaits a hike through the woodland trail!


Atlantic Puffin
Atlantic Puffin
This lovely little Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula artica) enjoys a shrimp snack.

Ok, so this wasn't taken at Forsythe! One of PineyPower's readers, Ralph Knutsen of Pine Beach NJ, took these photos while visiting Machias Seal Island in Maine. Ralph was kind enough to allow me to share it with you. Thanks, Ralph!

For more information on Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, visit the following links:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

FORSYTHE BROCHURE (pdf)

GORP.COM

NJ AUDUBON

ENATURE.COM

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The Pine Barrens is becoming a popular tourist destination. It offers history, nature, boating, camping, fishing, swimming, and most of all, peace and tranquility. It's important to families who live here, whether for a few years or many generations, that our peace and tranquility be preserved.A local lawyer or doctor won't look any different than his neighbor who works the land. Thousand dollar suits aren't what impress people of the Pines - taking care of nature and fellow man is what matters. To that end, it is important for you to know that as a visitor to our precious Pine Barrens, you should show respect for the flora and fauna, for the historical buildings or their remains, and show respect for the "locals". Walk and drive gently. Treat our Pine Barrens as you would want a visitor to treat your own home town - and your own family. Thank you.

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