The shores of South Jersey bordering Delaware Bay are where Horseshoe Crabs come ashore every May to mate. The female crabs lay eggs in the sand and the male crabs fertilize them. The eggs are a favorite source of food for many birds, particularly for Red Knots, those long-distance migrators that travel more than 9,000 miles (15,000 km) from Tierra del Fuego at the very end of South America to the Artic in North America.
So at this time of the year. there are literally thousands and thousands of shore birds, including Red Knots, at the South Jersey shore. To protect the birds the beaches are off limits to people for one month, from May 7th to June 7th, which meant I could only take pictures from a good distance away.
Small island off Fortescue, NJ, a typical scene at this time of the year.
Even in the above photo, you can see several Horseshoe Crab that got upended, laying on their backs waiting for the tide to help them get back on their feet. Many will eventually die if that does not happen, becoming another source of food for seagulls and other birds.
Horseshoe Crab trying to turn itself over. They can’t, and they need help from the waves.
Horseshoe Crab dying. It was still trying to move its feet.
Dunlins looking for Horseschoe Crab eggs buried in sand.
Shore birds, among them a Red Knot, eating eggs around female Horseshoe Crab half buried in background.
Ruddy Turnstones eatings eggs next to two Horseshoe Crabs.
Red Knot, long-distance migrator.
Typical scene at South Jersey shore in May. No people, just birds.