Here are some more photos to give you an idea of what the annual Horseshoe Crab egg feast is like on the South Jersey shoreline.
A couple of Laughing Gulls had needs other than food to be met.
This year I had to go twice to the South Jersey shore at Fortescue, NJ to photograph Horseshoe Crabs as they come ashore to mate. It rained heavily last weekend, and I had to shoot from the car quickly before the camera got wet.
The second time was yesterday, with plenty of sunshine. There were tens of thousands of birds of all kinds on a stretch of the beach no more than a quarter of a mile (0.4 km) long.
Red Knots depend on Horseshoe Crab eggs to replenish their energy during their long migration flight of 9,300 miles (15,000 km) from the tip of South America to the Artic. This year there were many of them, and they appeared well fed and in good shape.
Today was peak season for Horseshoe Crabs. I had never seen so many as evidenced by the following photos taken at Fortescue, NJ on the Delaware Bay.
The Great Blue Heron did not seem to join in the egg feast that other birds were indulging in.
A lady who was monitoring the beach to make sure people did not go near the birds told me that Horseshoe Crabs were late this year, probably because of cooler weather and abundant rain. However, migratory birds like the Red Knot landed in New Jersey at their regular time and could not find enough eggs to eat! They rely on the eggs to fuel themselves for their 9,000 mi journey (15,000 km), and alarms are going up about their fate this year. They are way underweight at the mid point of their migration.
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.
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.
For this challenge, I am posting a photo of Red Knots in flight over the Delaware Bay. These birds migrate every year from Artic areas to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America, a distance of 9,300 miles and one of the longest migratory paths of any bird.