SHORE DELIGHTS, NJ WINTER

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 Island Beach New Year's Weekend

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:

Island Beach New Year's Weekend Birders Jeanette Hooban, Ray Yeager

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.

Survivor, Judge's Shack Island Beach New Year's Weekend

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

Long-tailedduck non-breeding female -GrahamMontgomery

Long-tailed duck Clangula hyemalis, Male, New York, USA

Long-tailed duck Clangula hyemalis, Male, 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- plunging from Internet

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:

RedThroatedLoon winter plumage from Internet

RED-THROATED LOON (Internet) In Winter Plumage

But the stars remained those hovering gannets:

Gannet hovering from internet

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 AND CAROLYN, INTENT UPON GANNETS, BY RAY YEAGER

Jeanette Tripping Light Fantastic by Ray Yeager

JEANETTE RUNNING DOWN TO THE LONG-TAILS    by Ray Yeager

sunbathing on sugar sand by Ray Yeager

WE NEVER WANT TO LEAVE, by Ray Yeager

King of the Wrack LIne Horseshoe Crab Island Beach New Year's

KING OF THE WRACK LINE, HORSESHOE CRAB

Compass Grass Doing its Thing Island Beach New Year's Weekend

COMPASS GRASS DRAWING ITS CIRCLES

Divine Detritus  Wrack Line Island Beach New Year's Weekend

DIVINE DETRITUS OF WINTER

Fox Tracks in Sugar Sand Island Beach New Year's Weekend

FRESH (!) FOX TRACKS IN SUGAR SAND

January Palette #13 Island Beach New Year's Weekend

WINTER’S CEZANNE PALETTE

Wild Grasses #13 Freshwater Wetlands Island Beach New Year's Weekend

WINTER GRASSES

Winter Color Island Beach #13 Freshwater Wetlands  New Year's Weekend

WINTER TREES

Wondrous Shells of Winter

PERFECT WINTER SHELLS

Unexpected Wreath Barnegat Bay Island Beach New Year's Weekend

UNEXPECTED WREATH!

Key Birding by Ray Yeager

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.

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8 thoughts on “SHORE DELIGHTS, NJ WINTER

  1. DEAR Tasha – first of the commentors, Already! Amazing. great honor to have you,
    Ur-Photographer, praise my work — Ray’s excellence is almost beyond praise.

    I am so blessed in artist-friends who share my passion for nature, virtually and side-by-side

    Merci mille fois! c

  2. Good blog! I hope it encourages people to get outside this winter when weather conditions allow. The long-tailed ducks are gorgeous. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one in person. Isn’t that wreath interesting? I wonder what the story behind it is – why it was placed on that particular tree. It is fun to conjecture what the reason is.

  3. Dear Marilyn, my cherished sister in Illinois, who loves nature as passionately as I, perhaps because of the spectacular beauties of Northern Michigan — thank you for this rich comment. You write like a novelist — like our ancestress Harriet Beecher Stowe (“the little lady who started that big war,” in the words of Abraham Lincoln). What is the story behind that wreath. Why would it be there, on the shores of Barnegat Bay, honoring Christmas in such a wild setting? We could probably make up an entire answer. And we will never know.

    I wish with all my heart that you had been with us on this day. The best I can say about the Atlantic Ocean, Marilyn, is that, at Island Beach, it is the closest to Good Harbor in Leelanau, Michigan, Lake Michigan or our favorite sandy stretches in Naubinway, the Upper Peninsula, also along Lake Michigan — or Lake Superior at its wildest…

    Long-tailed ducks are an enormous privilege — come see them with me! c

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