Too many people think Nature stops at Labor Day. I’m here to insist that our fabulous New Jersey Shore delights in all seasons.
FIRST GLIMPSE, ICONIC JUDGE’S SHACK, JANUARY DUNES
Sometimes, I’m convinced, winter is the most exciting. Come with me, last weekend, to Island Beach, with Ray Yeager – superb photographer of nature (check out his snowy owls and foxes on Ray Yeager Photography or Ray Yeager Photography Blog) and my original Intrepid, Jeanette Hooban:
RAY AND JEANETTE, LAUGHING AT WINTER
Ray was kind enough to meet us early at the entry booth, to guide us first of all to the iconic Judge’s Shack. Look that up on line and learn its remarkable history — all these years of family use and impossible survival.
ICONIC JUDGE’S SHACK, CROWNING A DUNE
To see magnificent versions, see Ray Yeager’s in first light and last light, by Super Moon and meteor shower, and in the shadow of a space station.
After honoring this Island Beach icon, we went after our other quarry – birds! At our feet were long-tailed ducks, surfing through waves frontwards and the other way, coasting over crests, standing exultantly at wave peaks and waving like Christ of the Andes. (Internet bird photos)
Long-tailed duck Clangula hyemalis, Female, New York, USA
Spread out across the waves all the way to the horizon were white birds too far to see and identify. Probably gulls, but they could’ve been foam itself. Every once in awhile, one would rise, hover like a kingfisher, fold wings until the bird turned into a dagger, then plunge into the sea. Each contact with water sent up the characteristic geyser that identifies gannet feeding behavior.
GANNET PLUNGE (from Internet)
Impossibly, those gannets were blindingly white, far whiter than gulls, and so dramatic to watch!
Ray and Jeanette used their smartphones to see if the solemn loon-like bird in front of us, behind the long-tails, was indeed a red-throated loon in winter plumage. In other words, not a speck of red. Yes, indeed:
RED-THROATED LOON (Internet) In Winter Plumage
But the stars remained those hovering gannets:
HOVERING GANNET FROM INTERNET
Is it any wonder we walked soft sand forever, staring and staring?
JEANETTE AND CAROLYN, INTENT UPON GANNETS, BY RAY YEAGER
JEANETTE RUNNING DOWN TO THE LONG-TAILS by Ray Yeager
WE NEVER WANT TO LEAVE, by Ray Yeager
KING OF THE WRACK LINE, HORSESHOE CRAB
COMPASS GRASS DRAWING ITS CIRCLES
DIVINE DETRITUS OF WINTER
FRESH (!) FOX TRACKS IN SUGAR SAND
WINTER’S CEZANNE PALETTE
PERFECT WINTER SHELLS
But, we’re really here to bird — “HEAVEN ON EARTH” by Ray Yeager
Profound thanks to all my Intrepids, who’ll brave any condition to experience New Jersey’s Wild Beauty.