Wildlife of Beach Haven’s Mordecai Island!

Mordecai Island

Eastern side of Mordecai Island

Welcome! Today we will be exploring the wildlife of Beach Haven’s Mordecai Island from a distance. Mordecai Island is named after Mordecai Andrews who owned over 900 nearby acres in the 1700s.

The 45 acre salt marsh island (which was at one time part of Long Beach Island) is located in Barnegat Bay just off the western coast of Long Beach Island New Jersey.

Mordecai Island is a designated important bird area of New Jersey.

Diamond Back Terrapin near Mordecai Island

Diamondback Terrapin seen near Mordecai Island

Mordecai Island also provides important habitat for Horseshoe Crabs and Diamondback Terrapins both of which thrive in the brackish waters of Barnegat Bay.

Diamondback Terrapins were once very common in New Jersey. Road kills and overdevelopment have threatened their numbers in recent years. Mordecai provides much needed breeding ground for these beautiful turtles.

Horseshoe Crab numbers have also been reduced in the past few decades. Important places like Mordecai Island will help to ensure their survival by providing much needed habitat.

The western side of Mordecai Island has lost about 26 acres since the 1930s due to strong tides and increased nearby development.  Mordecai Land Trust is a non-profit that helps to ensure that the habitats on Mordecai Island stay healthy and they work with their partners to help decrease the loss of Mordecai Island salt marshes.

Mordecai Island Wetlands

Mordecai Island located to the west of Long Beach Island

There are colonies of Ribbed Mussels (which humans generally do not eat) found near the shores of Mordecai Island. These mussels help support the root structures of some saltwater plants such as Smooth Cordgrass which in turn helps to prevent further erosion.

Mordecai Island is comprised of of both high salt marsh and low salt marsh with each consisting of their respective plant communities including:

Bald Eagles on Osprey Nest

Bald Eagles on Osprey Nesting Platform Mordecai Island

Let’s take a look around and see what wildlife we can spot. Wow! We’ve lucked out already! Two majestic Bald Eagles are sitting on an Osprey nesting platform!

The Osprey nesting platform the Bald Eagles are perched on was built in 2016 which replaced an earlier one that was constructed in 1994.

American Black Ducks

American Black Ducks near Mordecai Island

What are those ducks we see near the Bald Eagles? Mallards perhaps? No, they are American Black Ducks. American Black Ducks winter in a variety of wetland habitats in the eastern United States including salt marshes like Mordecai Island.

Common Loon with Buffleheads

Common Loon with airborne Buffleheads near Mordecai Island

And look! A Common Loon with some Buffleheads flying in the background! We may think of a Common Loon as only belonging to the wilderness of an isolated freshwater lake deep in the North Woods but as we see here they are found near salt marshes in the winter time.

Other birds known to use the habitat found in and around Mordecai Island include the below among others:

Several of these birds are endangered here in New Jersey.

Red-Breasted Merganser

The back of a Red-Breasted Merganser near Mordecai Island

Turning our attention back to the water near Mordecai Island we spot a Red-Breasted Merganser with its back to us. It’s a funky looking bird whose haircut reminds me of a late 1970’s punk rocker.

Buffleheads

Buffleheads near Mordecai Island

Wow! We have seen quite a few cool looking birds today. Our last treat is a flock of Buffleheads who have just landed in the calm waters off of Mordecai. Buffleheads are the smallest of the diving ducks.

Thanks for joining me today on our wildlife viewing extravaganza!

You can check out the latest Mordecai Island bird sightings here!

Great books!

 

 

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