Edwin B. Forsythe N.W.R.

Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

Photography Hot Spot

The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

800 Great Creek Road, Galloway, N.J.

Go to the main location, drive, walk/bike the eight-mile loop out into the ocean. Several different areas are considered the refuge, but you want the main loop road for the best bird photography.  BEWARE! The green flies come out to get you on the humid hot summer days. Bug spray is not enough. We do not recommend going on a high-humidity day. Our green friends love humidity.  The bugs bite, and it’s not fun.

We like spring when all the birds come back. Snowy Owls come here sometimes in winter. You can call and see if there have been sightings since the snowy owls don’t always come yearly.  We have photographed peregrine falcons, eagles, great egrets, and smaller birds. It’s just a great overall bird photography location.

It is also a Sunrise and Sunset photography location – check out our sunset image below.

Refuge brochure:  Download here

The Wildlife Refuge

The Refuge protects over 40,000 acres (162 km) of southern New Jersey Coastal Habitats and tidal wetlands. Six thousand acres (24 km2) of the Refuge are designated as a wilderness area, meaning that public access is sometimes limited or even entirely prohibited. These areas include Holgate and Little Beach, two of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches in the state. Here the rare piping plover and other beach-nesting birds raise their young.

The beach areas provide fragile ecosystems for birds whose populations have already been impacted by development, so Holgate is closed to all public during the nesting season; Little Beach is closed all year except by special permits for research or education. Almost 90% of Forsythe Refuge is the tidal salt marsh, interspersed with shallow coves and bays. Each year thousands of ducks and geese, wading birds, and shorebirds concentrate here during spring and fall migration, making the Refuge a good site for birdwatching, nature photography, and related activities. More than 3,000 acres (12 km) of the Refuge are woodlands with a wide variety of tree and plant species, thus also providing vital habitat for a variety of upland species such as songbirds, woodcock, white-tailed deer, and box turtles.

Direct access to this Refuge is by automobile and bicycle. While there are no specific guided programs, visitors may drive an eight-mile (13 km) long trail over dams recommended by a brochure that points out the various features. Foot travelers can walk one of four trails, ranging from 1/4 mile (0.4 km) to 4 miles (6.4 km).

When to Go: Spring and Fall are best when it is not too humid, and the green flies aren’t around, but the birds are. It doesn’t ever get too crowded. Edwin B. Forsythe is also not too far from a milky way dark sky area, so you might want to plan your trip around a new moon or the week before during milky way week.

Camera Settings


Shutter Priority

If you have moving subjects like birds, you want to shoot in shutter priority to ensure your images appear sharp.

At The Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, you want to keep your camera in shutter priority mode. This allows you to control your shutter speed. 1/1000th of a second allows for clear images of the birds moving quickly. You can go higher on bright sunny days. On dark, overcast days, you may up your ISO some to allow for a high shutter speed, stopping the action for crystal clear images.