Heislerville WMA

Hello friends! Sorry I seemed to fall of the face of the Earth for a bit. It’s been a crazy, busy week, especially with the past holiday weekend. We’ve been having a heat wave here in New Jersey, so I haven’t been out birding in about a week. I usually encounter a lot going on outside my balcony, but even the backyard birds have seemed awfully quiet and absent due to the heat. The temperatures should be going back down into the 80s next week, so I’m hoping to get some birding in next week.

My last birding trip was actually on Sunday, July 3. Dave and I wanted to try somewhere different. We took a trip to Heislerville Wildlife Management Area. Heislerville WMA is a marsh habitat that borders Delaware Bay and the Maurice River in Cumberland County NJ. We’ve never visited before, so we didn’t really know what to expect.

The experience was a little confusing. We found the signs letting us know we were in Heislerville WMA, but we weren’t really sure where to park or where the wildlife auto loop entrance was. We did find something pretty cool though: a rookery. A rookery is a breeding colony. In the past I’ve talked about the Great Blue Heron rookery at Amico Island, but this one was a little different.

This rookery was for Double-crested Cormorants, Great Egrets, and Black-crowned Night-Herons. They were on a little island of trees, not far from the side of the road where people were crabbing. There were about 250 Cormorants, 40 Great Egrets, and 35 Black-crowned Night-Herons. I actually didn’t notice the Night-Herons at first until Dave pointed out a few; they blended in really well. Some birds were sitting on nests, some were standing around and/or preening, and some were coming and going. It was very loud and fascinating to watch. I’ve only ever seen 2 Black-crowned Night-Herons in my life, so seeing 35 of them in one spot was a treat! (The Night-Herons are hard to spot in these pics, they blend in perfectly)

After watching the rookery for awhile we moved on to another impoundment across the street. There were large flocks of Laughing Gulls and Herring Gulls (easily 150-200 + per species), some Snowy Egrets, and more Great Egrets. We did eventually find the wildlife auto loop. It’s 8 miles, but we didn’t stay on it very long. Some of the other birds we saw included Red-winged Blackbirds, Gray Catbirds, American Robins, Song Sparrows, House Sparrows, Blue Jays, a Great Blue Heron, Mourning Doves, Downy Woodpeckers, an Eastern Kingbird, Crows, Carolina Chickadees, and Northern Cardinals.

We only stood for about an hour and mostly watched from the car, but saw a decent amount in a short time. We could barely walk around though because it was really buggy even with spray on.

Overall, I had mixed feeling about this trip. The rookery was amazing, but it was a little confusing to get around and pretty crowded. It may be nice to visit in the fall when it’s less crowded. I am glad we tried something different though.


Author: BirdNation

I am an avid birder, teacher, and nature lover. I primarily go birding in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but love to travel. I am currently a biology student with interests in conservation biology, ornithology, and environmental sciences. My dream is to go birding in all 50 states.

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