Wildlife Observation and Photography
At the Brigantine Section
Most of the refuge's public use facilities are located at the Brigantine Section headquarters area in Oceanville. This site provides exceptional wildlife viewing and photography, plus environmental education opportunities. Best wildlife viewing occurs in spring and fall. Biting insects abound from mid-May through mid-October. Ticks occur all year, and are most active during warmer months. Some ticks may carry Lyme disease, known to be harmful to humans. Insect repellent and other safety precautions are recommended.
Wildlife Drive: A leisurely eight-mile drive through wetlands and woodlands reveals wildlife visible from the roadway. Look for spectacular concentrations of migratory water birds in spring and fall as they stop and linger in refuge habitats managed to meet their needs. See our birding page for a current list of bird sightings. A Visitor Information Center is at the beginning of the Drive. It provides Bird Checklists, Auto Tour Guides and Refuge brochures, as well as recent wildlife sightings and other important information. Barrier free rest rooms are available. Please note that there are no other restrooms along the Wildlife Drive. The drive is open from sunrise to sunset.
Nature Trails: A quiet foot traveler may see a variety of wildlife along these tranquil paths. Take time to notice the beauty of a wildflower, a butterfly feeding, and the hoof print of a deer. Check out our trail map brochure (PDF 261 KB - Adobe Reader required).
Experimental Pool Overlook. This overlook is accessible to persons in wheelchairs. Two spotting scopes offer a view of the pool and surrounding habitats.
The Friends of Forsythe Nature Store is located in the Visitor Information Center. Open 7 days a week, there are environmental books, t-shirts, gifts, and other nature related items for sale. A loaner program of binoculars, bird guides, or tripod is available on request.
At the Barnegat Section
Wildlife viewing opportunities are seasonal in some areas of the Barnegat Section and year-round in others.
At the Holgate Unit
The Holgate Unit of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is located at the southern tip of Long Beach Island. It is 2½ miles long, and consists of more than 400 acres of barrier beach, dunes, and tidal saltmarsh. This pristine site is part of Forsythe Refuge's designated Wilderness Area offering visitors seasonal opportunities to observe its remarkable living plant and animal communities. As one of New Jersey's last undeveloped barrier beaches, Holgate is an important and productive area for beach-nesting birds -- including piping plovers.
The piping plover is listed by the federal government as threatened along the entire east coast. Holgate is one of the last nesting sites still available for these birds along the Jersey Shore. More than fifty other bird species nest at Holgate during the spring and summer seasons, including ospreys, black ducks, American oystercatchers, willets, and seaside sparrows. During non-nesting season -- approximately September 1 through March 31 -- visitors are welcome to walk Holgate's beach front, to take advantage of its plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities. (Sorry, pets are prohibited -- they can be harmful to both wildlife and this fragile habitat.) During the nesting season -- April 1 through August 31 -- Holgate is closed to all public access, to ensure undisturbed nesting conditions for threatened piping plovers and other beachnesters.
Visit our Holgate Usage Guidelines page.