Winter Is Here But It’s Still A Great Time To Enjoy The Sanctuary
Now that the days are shorter and many of the Neotropical migrants have made their way through Cape May to their wintering grounds, the abundant wildlife in the Sanctuary are our year-round resident birds in addition to our wintering friends from points north. As the leaves fall, it’s a good time to see these visitors that include a host of finches and sparrows, some thrushes, and large numbers of American Robins. The birds that winter here will rely on the abundance of berries and seeds, as well as insects that are overwintering hiding in the leaf litter and under bark.
Enjoy the Sanctuary paths including Holly Path that is now open until March 1. Please stay on the trails and respect the wildlife and avoid the hard to detect poison ivy that is still potent in the winter.
Exploring the Sanctuary
There are three paths in the Sanctuary that are open all year round:
Heron Overlook Path
Located off 3rd Avenue and surrounded by beautiful gardens donated by Friends of the Sanctuary, Heron Overlook will allow you to view the saltwater wetlands which are a popular heron and egret feeding area. In the spring and fall, you might see and hear Neotropical songbirds as well as other larger migratory visitors. Take a moment, sit on a bench, enjoy the views and listen to the birds. In the fall, monarch butterflies have been known to swarm the flower gardens on their way south. The Heron Overlook Path was made possible through the generous support of Julian and Betsy Miraglia as well as Phil Barber and Tony Millcarsky. Please stop at the Pump House, open the brown stand and tell us who you are, where you are from and any birds you have seen!
Meadow Walk Path
The Meadow Walk Path is surprisingly unique because it straddles fresh water meadows on your left and salt water marsh on your right. In the spring and summer, you might see Great Egret and Great Blue Herons stalking minnows and fiddler crabs in the tributaries. In the fall, various types of ducks can be seen swimming in the fresh water marsh to the left. The Meadow Walk path ends with a view of Paul’s Pond, a fresh water spring-fed pond where you might see Glossy Ibis, Black-crowned Night Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Green Heron and Osprey roosting in the trees in front of you. The Meadow Walk was created by the Cape May County Department of Mosquito Control with help from the Friends of the Sanctuary.
Egret Espy Path
The entrance to the Egret Espy Path is located off 2nd Avenue and 114th Street. You are greeted at the beginning of the path by a stand of whispering pine trees planted by local Boy Scouts after the 1962 storm. Take a moment and sit on one of the teak benches, breathe in the soft pine scent and enjoy the beautiful gardens donated by Friends of the Sanctuary. As you walk along the path, you will cross a footbridge dedicated in honor of long-time resident, George Walters. Once across the bridge, you enter Maritime forest that is hundreds of years old. To your right and left you will see intricate, artistic remnants of old white spruce. Watch out, you might step on an Eastern Box Turtle! At the end of the path, sit on one of the benches, listen but keep your eyes open because you are likely to see migrating songbirds, Green Herons, colonial wading birds, and large, colorful dragon flies. The path is alive with activity.
The Holly Path is a tribute to the success of the Sanctuary Rehabilitation Program started in 2006. In recent years, growing populations of Night Herons have been spending considerable time roosting and nesting around Paul’s Pond. To encourage continued growth of these magnificent birds, we are trying to minimize disturbance by closing the Holly Path from March 1st thru October 1st. Please accept our apologies for this inconvenience. Should you wish to view these Night Heron, you might see them from the fence at 2nd near 111th Street or better yet, click the Heron Cam link on this site. Between November first and March first, you are invited to enter the Holly Path which is located off 2nd Avenue and 112th Street. The Holly Path meanders across century-old sand dunes, through an ancient Maritime Forest with stands of sassafras reminiscent of a Harry Potter movie scene, past a 300 year old holly tree perched on a 15’ dune, and ends at Paul’s Pond. The pond is named in honor of Paul McConnell, a former member of the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary Committee.