Caspian terns pay us a visit at Trenton marsh

Caspian turn plucks a sunfish from Spring Lake

After the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm, one of my favorite places to bird is the Trenton marsh. After seeing an alert that Caspian terns were spotted there on Saturday, I drove down as the sun came out that afternoon and was treated to a delightful display by these unusual visitors.

The terns are fast flyers, and I watched as three of them jetted about, looking for fish to pluck out of Silver Lake. The lake is one of the main features of Trenton marsh, and I need to make some distinctions for those interested in visiting.

A Caspian tern soars over Spring Lake at John A. Roebling park, part of Abbott Marshlands.

The marsh — more formally Abbott Marshlands — sprawls from Trenton into neighboring Hamilton and even a bit of Burlington County, and there are a few entrances. The one I usually visit is at the end of Sewell Avenue, just off Broad Street in Trenton, where you’ll find the John A. Roebling Park sector of the marsh.

From the parking lot, Spring Lake is off to the left and the marsh to the right. A pair of mute swans are in residence on the marsh, and they’ll occasionally pop over to the lake. The marsh is a great spot for herons, egrets, kingfishers and several varieties of ducks (mallard, American black, wood, e.g.) while the lake often has ring-necked ducks, gadwalls and gulls.

A great egret sits at the top of a tree, high above the Trenton marsh.

The narrow band of trees between the lake and marsh during migration seasons teems with birds: sparrows, wrens, kinglets, palm warblers and more. There’s a straight path along the lake edge, with a few cutovers to a more undulating path to the right that goes through the trees and offers openings to the marsh edge.

Ospreys like the one above and bald eagles often visit Abbott Marshlands.

Up the path is a junction at which you can turn left to walk around the lake or cross a narrow concrete bridge that brings you to the wooded Island Trail that takes you to the back stretches of the marsh. The trail is marked with red blazes (or are they orange?) and there’s a turnoff to the white Annabelle Trail, which I often take. It’s short, offers a nice mix of woods and marsh, and is less confusing than the red trail, on which I got lost on one of my first visits and seemed to trek forever before finding my way back.

Published by Dan

University media executive by day, blogger by night, I am a well-traveled resident of New Jersey

2 thoughts on “Caspian terns pay us a visit at Trenton marsh

  1. I remember visiting Trenton Marsh over 50 yrs ago for a rare sighting of several fulvous whistling ducks. Wow! I’m getting old! (Greetings from Orlando.)


  2. Bob, belated thanks for the comment! My wife and I drove over the marsh this morning on the freeway just east of Trenton and I said, “That’s where I go birding sometimes.” She got a weird look on her face. 🙂


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