One way to enjoy nature’s show at its finest is to attend the 19th Annual Purple Martin Spectacular.
This year’s dates are Wednesday, Aug. 7 and Thursday, Aug. 8; and Friday through Monday Aug. 16-19. (Note: tickets for Aug. 16-18 are sold out). Patrons will meet at 6 p.m. at the dock of the Bayshore Center at Bivalve, 2800 High St. And, the Bonanza II departs at 6:15 p.m., rain or shine. Tickets are $40 per person.
Once aboard, guests on the Bonanza II will cruise down the wild and scenic Maurice River in search of Purple Martin flocks, which have been using the river as a staging site for their fall migration for almost 20 years. There they form a murmuration swirling in masses and then zeroing in on the marsh to bed down for the night.
Purple martins feed for several weeks on the insect populations along the NJ Delaware Bayshore, building and storing fat that will fuel their trip to their wintering grounds in Brazil. They will leave in large congregations, for migration in numbers has long been a strategy for success in many species. But for a few weeks they are residents of the Maurice River marshes, and a cruise to enjoy the awe-inspiring numbers of aerial acrobats has become an August tradition.
The cruise lasts approximately three hours and departs rain or shine. CU Maurice River Wildlife Management Director and Purple Martin expert, Allen Jackson, will be on board to explain habits of these birds as well as the ins and outs of their fall migration. Last year Jackson estimated there were over half a million birds gathered on the marshes of the Maurice River.
Naturalists from CU Maurice River and NJ Audubon will be on board identifying and explaining points of natural and cultural interest. There will also be a selection of refreshments and desserts on board.
Payments will be received in advance. Contact Doreen Homan at 300-5331 or email firstname.lastname@example.org