Friday, July 3, 2015

Ocean City Visitor's Center 7/3--White Ibis

White Ibis
What we won't do for a bird. Where is the last place you want to be on July 3rd?  How about crawling along in holiday traffic on the causeway to Ocean City with a few thousand people "going down the shore." That's where we were at noon today. The reason is above. White Ibis is a very rare visitor to New Jersey and when one shows up, you gotta go.

Shari & I have been to Ocean City a few times, but we've always gone in about 5 miles further south than today's trip on the causeway, so we were both unaware of the OC Chamber of Commerce's Visitor's Center, along with its beautiful adjacent wetlands, complete with heron rookery. In fact, it seems that a lot of Jersey birders were unaware of this spot. When we arrived, we ran into a few people we knew, none of whom had seen the bird (though it had been reported early in the day) and one of whom had been there since 7 in the morning. He didn't want to leave, but he was getting tired of searching. When I got out of the car, I immediately scanned the rookery in front of us, hoping the bird would be in there, but I "only" found both night-herons, in good numbers and in all stages of maturity.
Black-crowned Night Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, adult and immature
More Yellow-crowned Night-Herons
Then I moved on and was scanning a distant flock of Glossy Ibises, hoping that the White Ibis would be associating with them when the call went out--the bird was found. Walking back a 100 paces to where I started another duo of birders, found the bird almost immediately upon arrival. It was roosting in a notch between trees and at first all we could see was its white back, but then it lifted its head and there it was.
The bird can be well hidden. All it takes is for it to jump down a foot or so to be completely lost in the foliage, as we found out after about 20 minutes when it did disappear deeper into the tree. By then, we'd all had excellent looks and we prepared to brave the traffic into Ocean City so that we could turn around to get out of Ocean City.

However, the location deserves more visits--it is a great place to watch for egrets, herons, gulls, terns, and rails. Just not on a holiday weekend.

Our list:
20 species
Great Egret  10
Snowy Egret  1
Little Blue Heron  2
Tricolored Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  15     
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  10    
White Ibis  1     
Glossy Ibis  10
Osprey  1
Clapper Rail  1
Laughing Gull  15
Herring Gull  10
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Forster's Tern  3
Rock Pigeon  2
Mourning Dove  1
Common Yellowthroat  1     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Boat-tailed Grackle  15
House Sparrow  1


  1. Hi there! My husband and I have a place in Somers Point, which is adjacent to a large area of marshes and mud flats. On May 7th I was taking some pics of birds off our bay-side deck and low and behold, the young White Ibis landed on our dock. She/he walked around on the dock, preened for a bit and then jumped down to forage on the waters edge of the inlet. I now know May 7th is the earliest date this juvenile White Ibis was spotted. I was lucky enough to snap some pics of this rare visitor to New Jersey

    1. That's great. You should enter it in eBird (with photo) or else contact one of the reviewers to let them know. Interesting to have one in NJ so long without it getting spotted until July.

  2. Terrific article! It seems mid June-Mid July is the peak time for rookery sitings. Am I correct? Also, is there a November population of migrants? Thanks so much!