Two Mile Beach Whelks

We also found whelk shells and egg cases at Two Mile Beach during our field trip during  Cape May Spring (birding) Festival . The shells are the largest on the beach and appear in a range of colors due to weathering.


There were also whelk egg cases. Our guide encouraged us to open them to find the small shells inside – whelks that were never grow to adulthood because their egg cases have become detached from their anchor in the sea and washed to the shore.


We took a picture with the cell phone and I dug out my macro lens clip for a closer look. They are miniatures of the adults!

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I didn’t bring anything to keep the sand and tiny shells…and there was not time to count the ones that were in the case. Supposedly each capsule can contain up to 100 eggs! From the picture – I think there were at least 30.

Two Mile Beach Oystercatchers

Our first afternoon field trip of  Cape May Spring (birding) Festival was at Two Mile Beach. The part of the beach that is part of the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge is closed from mid-April to mid-October; the leader for the trip (a US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist) took us on the dune trail to the part of the beach that is owned by the US Coast Guard. That part of the beach has nesting birds too! The first one we saw was an American Oystercatcher on a nest. These birds are hard to miss. They are large…with a bright red bill and red rimmed yellow eye. The nest is on the ground…with very little material involved. The grasses provided a minimal curtain.

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Both the male and female take turns at the nest. We say second bird moving on the sand – meandering toward the nest. We stayed well back and watched. Note that the bird has been banded.

Eventually the bird decided we were too close and we retreated out of the range of my zoom lens to give the birds the confidence to make the nest duty swap.