by Devin Griffiths, Marketing & Communications Specialist
Saturday, May 14, 3:00 AM. Hours before sunrise, and The Marshketeers are already on the hunt. After two years of socially distant birding, The Wetlands Institute’s team of obsessed birders is finally back together and on the road, and for the next 24 hours they’ll be (with apologies to Thoreau) living deep and sucking the marrow out of life as they search hither and yon for anything with feathers and wings. First stop: a quiet salt marsh in the northern reaches of Cape May county where, in the foggy distance, they hear the distinctive call of a Chuck-Will’s-Widow. And then, fueled by caffeine and purpose, they’re off.
Stymied throughout the day by persistent fog and intermittent rain, the team nonetheless remained stalwart and unfaltering in their quest, knowing that each bird found meant more funds for conservation. By day’s end, they’d spotted 134 species (including 2022’s Bonus Bird, the Seaside Sparrow) and – through generous donations and pledges (from veteran and first-time supporters alike) – raised close to $10,000 for the Institute’s coastal bird research and conservation programs.
As the team lowered their binoculars on the last bird of the day – a gorgeous Prothonotary Warbler foraging in the fading light – they knew they’d scored another victory for birds, for conservation, and for all of us who thrill at the sight of these incredible feathered creatures. Exhausted and exhilarated, they headed home secure in the knowledge that, with the help of all who’d pledged their support, they’d made a real difference for the birds.