1. Research your wildlife watching trips ahead of time. Check the guide to ensure you are visiting the sites during the best season and time of day for your target species. Successful wildlife watching is as much about being in the right place, at the right time, as anything else.
2. Bring insect repellent in all but the coldest times of year. From the first thaw to the first freeze, visitors should take some precautions against ticks, as Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses are risks in this area. Long pants and long sleeves can help to prevent tick bites, and light colored clothing will make ticks easier to spot.
3. Dress appropriately for both the weather and the destination. New Jersey enjoys the change of seasons typical of the mid-Atlantic region. There are occasional snows in winter, with the coldest temperatures in January and February, and rather hot and humid summer months, especially July and August. Earth tone colors are best for wildlife watching, but also remember to wear bright orange when visiting areas where hunting occurs during hunting seasons.
4. Bring drinking water and snacks. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, even during the winter months. Some of the locations in this guide are quite a distance from public service areas, so please plan ahead.
5. Be realistic about your expectations. Remember that wildlife is wild, and although there are particular species listed in our descriptions, you may not see all the animals mentioned on every visit. Fact is, you might see others not mentioned here! Either way, try not to be discouraged if an area is quiet. Return another day and you are likely to be rewarded.
6. Check hunting schedules. Some of the sites included in the Birding and Wildlife Trails allow hunting in accordance with state regulations. In general, hunting seasons are scheduled as follows: Small game season runs on various dates from October through March, Wild Turkey season runs from the end of April to the end of May and then again for the first week of November, and White-tailed deer season runs from October through January. Wildlife watchers are still encouraged to visit during hunting seasons, as hunters are generally not found in the areas where visitors are directed, but in deeper regions of forests and wetlands. For more updated and specific information on hunting season schedules, please visit www.njfishandwildlife.com and click on HUNTING on the homepage, or pick up a free Fish and Wildlife Digest available at most sporting goods stores throughout the state or contact the NJ Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife at 609-292-2965.
7. Bring a field guide to help with the identification of your target species. There are numerous guides to birds, butterflies and dragonflies, insects, wildflowers, reptiles and amphibians, and plants. Check our Resources pages to see a list of guide books specific to New Jersey and/or the Birding and Wildlife Trails regions.