Birding in Lower Township
Birding Lower Township
Lower Township has long been on every birder’s bucket list, and is simply one of the best places in the world to witness the spectacle of migration. While Higbee’s Beach Wildlife Management Area (WMA), the Nature Conservancy’s South Cape May Meadows, and The Rea Farm/Beanery are household names for any birder who has visited Cape May, there are many locations north of the Cape May Canal and within Lower Township which equal or rival the south-of-the-canal locations in a given season. The Delaware Bay beaches from Norbury’s Landing to the Cape May Lewes Ferry, can hold many migrant shorebird including the Federally Endangered Red Knot, wading birds, and dozens of Bald Eagles at at time! Birding Norbury’s Landing on low tide can provide a wide expanse of exposed mud and sand flats where thousands of birds can be seen in a single view, while on the incoming tide birds tend to be concentrated closer to the shoreline. Be sure to scan those distant dark “lumps” on the edge of the flats- because more often than not they’re Bald Eagles working on their latest catch, or sizing up a nearby raft of ducks!
Cox Hall Creek WMA, formerly Ponderlodge, has developed into a wonderful mosaic of habitats reminiscent of an ancient lost civilization being overtaken by nature. The site is easily traversed by foot or bike on a network of paved paths and is within walking distance of many rental properties in The Villas neighborhood. On any given day during fall migration, if the conditions at Higbee’s Beach WMA are good for birding, it’s more than likely that Cox Hall is excellent as well! But migration isn’t the only time to bird Cox Hall Creek WMA, with a number of breeding species including Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, and Chipping Sparrow, and a great amount of cover and food throughout the winter, all seasons are excellent at this site. Cox Hall Creek WMA can be accessed from two locations, Shawnmount Ave. on the east side, and Bybrook Rd on the west.
Let’s not forget the Atlantic marshes, as they can be some of the birdiest places in Lower Township! Best traversed by boat, at least two local operators (The Osprey, out of the Miss Chris Marina, and the Skimmer Salt Marsh Safari at 2-Mile Landing) can get you into some beautiful landscapes full of egrets, herons, osprey and oodles of shorebirds, rails, waterfowl and raptors. Once you’re in the Back Bays of Jarvis Sound, you’ll forget you’re in New Jersey entirely - and you’ll realize again why we’re called the Garden State!
Still wondering where to go? For nearly 40 years New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory and Nature Center of Cape May have been connecting people to nature in Lower Township. Stop in or call either of the three centers for up-to-date information on what’s being seen, recommendations for sites to visit and programs to attend, and maps to help you get around!
New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory
701 E Lake Drive, Cape May Point, NJ 08212
Center for Research and Education (open seasonally, call four hours)
600 Route 47 N.
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
New Jersey Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May
1600 Delaware Ave.
Cape May, NJ 08204
About the author:
David La Puma is the director of New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory and enjoys spending all of his free time birding in and around Lower Township.