Brigantine Return – Last of the Winter Birds

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that ‘The B rigantine’, or Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, near Smithville, New Jersey, has been closed to humans other than construction workers, since September.  I’ve now made two trips to the re-roaded, re-opened refuge.  I am happy to note that rarities are in residence, or in tourist mode, to a high degree.  This late March Saturday, we were treated to the last of the winter birds, and one life species for me — WHITE IBIS — two in a tree with a Great Egret, on the way to the Gull Pond Tower.  Most of these images are by my dear friend and superb bird artist, Brenda Jones.  All of them are wild nature, roaming free, thanks to far-sighted altruistic politicians of yesteryear.

A thousand thanks always to consummate birder, Mary Wood, who not only drives us in her silent Prius, which does not alarm the wildlings.  But who gave me her spectacular (second pair) of Swarovski binoculars, which finally allow me to see eye rings…

In case you wonder why people bird….



Imagine Two White Ibis in One Tree — (Internet Image)   We left before they did...

Great Egret Brigantine Forsythe Brenda Jones 2

Great Egret – We also saw this one wading about (a first for us!) in sparkling Absecon Bay

bufflehead Brenda Jones

Brenda’s Serene Male Bufflehead — We had three females, two males.

Female Bufflehead Bull's Island Stockton NJ Brenda Jones

Brenda’s Intricate Female Bufflehead

Mute swan Brenda Jones

At one point, we had the mute swan and the 5 buffleheads ‘in one glass’

(meaning we could see all without moving our optics)

Osprey on winter tree Brenda Jones

We were this close to the first returned male osprey, — serene, imperious on his nest.  His mate is due to return in about two weeks. 

Green-Winged Teal Brenda Jones

We had green-winged teal beyond counting, at the inlet from Absecon Bay

snow_goose_laura_frazier_blackwaternationalwildliferefuge_cambridge_md from internet

We were given snow geese in numbers of this magnitude – Laura Frazier at Blackwater Wildlife Refuge in Maryland, from Internet — our were at rest upon the waters, serenading us with that musical murmur before departing for cooler climes…

Female Harrier Comin' In on a Wing Brenda Jones

Brenda’s Spectacular Female Harrier – I also spied “The Grey Ghost,” the elusive silvery male northern harrier, coasting along the tree line in a field to the west of Route 206, before we’d even turned into the Pine Barrens.

Song Sparrow from blind Brenda Jones

We heard, but did not see, the song sparrow at the northeast corner of the Refuge.

black brant in water from Internet

Internet Image of Black Brant in Water — We were given flocks on both sides, –bay and impoundment — and overhead in elegant waves.

Chickadee with Berry Brenda Jones

We frequently heard and ‘almost saw’ chickadees.

Red-winged Blackbird Brenda Jones

We heard and saw newly returned red-winged blackbirds.

Our finale bird at the Brig was an American Bald Eagle hiding out, disguising its imperious white head and diagnostic white tail in a black and white paper birch overlooking the final pond.

Eagle perched Brenda Jones new camera

17 thoughts on “Brigantine Return – Last of the Winter Birds

    • Jean, thank you so much for writing, for caring, about the winged miracles given Mary and me. We are so blessed still to have wildlife refuges — we both feel we must make the most of them, every week, now, while they still shelter the wildlings… Best, cfe

  1. Dear Carolyn,What a spectacular day you and Mary enjoyed!  I am back from dreadful Myrtle Beach.I am hoping your health and energy have returned and that PT and gentle yoga are healing your knee.I was sorry to read of the recurrence of your sister’s “a-fib” and hope April’s program will help control it.Looking forward to April 1st and Lumberville with Mary.I don’t know if I told you but my dear brother died a few days before I left.  It was a blessing that his suffering ended.

    Sending warm wishes.Fay

    From: njwildbeauty To: Sent: Saturday, March 25, 2017 11:56 PM Subject: [New post] Brigantine Return – Last of the Winter Birds #yiv9477675052 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv9477675052 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv9477675052 a.yiv9477675052primaryactionlink:link, #yiv9477675052 a.yiv9477675052primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv9477675052 a.yiv9477675052primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv9477675052 a.yiv9477675052primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv9477675052 | Carolyn Foote Edelmann posted: “NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that ‘The B rigantine’, or Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, near Smithville, New Jersey, has been closed to humans other than construction workers, since September.  I’ve now made two trips to the re-roaded, re-opened refuge.  ” | |

    • Fay, my heart goes out to you with regard to your brother. I know he suffered enormously, and we must rejoice in his release. But o, loss tracking you, yet again! I think loss is the major aspect of earth-life. Emily said it best, “Parting is all we know of heaven, and all we need of hell.” We will build new ‘bonfires’ of memory, thee and me, beginning with Lumberville jaunt. Yes, ever-present (twice daily at home, twice weekly at site) p.t. and not enough time for yoga are my fate now — I don’t have a life, I have a schedule. In the interim, one seeks out miracles, especially the ones with wings! With deep empathy, Carolyn

    • Ray, thanks for caring, for writing. It’s such a joy to be back in the Brig, and also less of an invalid, finally! Nature simply astounds! You know this, seeking it by day and night. Sometimes I know it more empirically than in reality — but it is the core of my being. Isn’t that Brenda a star? Appreciatively, c

  2. So exciting that you were able to see so many species of birds before they migrate. We hope and pray that you feel better soon. Love, Cliff and Brenda

    • Brenda and Cliff — yes, it is a miracle to SEE those tremendous creatures, and pintails, and shovelers, and so forth — but even more of a miracle that we three found one another, beaver-seeking along the Canal, and maintain our friendship and our support of each other’s art. So grateful! c

    • Faith, thank you so much for responding! It’s true joy to be out and about, for the first time since either Feb. 18 or March 3, depending on which malady I’m counting. Preserves are miracles, but friendship most of all. I wouldn’t have this blog without YOU! And often, I would not be able to convey the magic without my dear friend Brenda Jones — we met beaver-watching along the Canal one dusk, — she, Cliff and I. Little knowing where that sacred encounter would lead. appreciatively c

  3. Glad to see you had such a beautiful day at the Brig yesterday. Of course I love the Buffleheads, but am really surprised you found two White Ibis in NJ! I was under the impression that Ibis were southern Atlantic Coast/Gulf Coast birds, including Mexico, Central America, etc. I wonder where these magnificent birds are headed after leaving the Brigantine. Seeing them was a true gift for you!

    • Yes, Honey, we were pretty stunned – and might not have seen the ibis IN A TREE! — I couldn’t find pictures of them anywhere but in water — if the great egret (very early arrival) hadn’t been at the apex of the tree. We felt very blessed — our day began with a soaring osprey, almost too high to identify except by behavior, then the ibis. Thanks for commenting! your sister

    • Penelope, how blessed you are! They supposedly manage the Pole Farm (which we’ve hiked together) for grassland birds — but I have my quibbles with their methods. JUST HOPING for meadowlarks and bobolinks along those shady trails between the wide meadows. Thanks for commenting. c

  4. Carolyn, thank you for capturing our day so beautifully! I’m glad some of the energy of those birds transferred to you. Their restorative properties are seemingly without end. I am still amazed by the white ibis. Marilyn, I will find out what they were doing here and where they are going (or at least what the experts believe to be the case). Carolyn, the one photo you didn’t post – that I missed – was the Northern Shoveler, and the reason I regret that is because we all missed reading your description of their foraging in that “primordial ooze” of mud during low tide. How I love that image. Thanks again for the adventures of the day.

    Fay, I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your brother. Mary

  5. Mary, Thank you profoundly for your complex response, not only to the blog, but to our day. And yes, because Brenda didn’t have a shoveler, I forgot to look on line — ditto re our natty pintails!

    The whole point of my blog is that Nature enriches and restores us — and there’s such spectacular nature so close to us! 1 1/2 hours and a superb breakfast at the Bakery in Smithville, and a day of inestimable richesse! As Auntie Mame so boldly asserted, “Life is a banquet, and most poor XXX are starving to death!”

    Sometimes, I am tempted to give up on my mission to lure friends and relations and neighbors and strangers out into the wild world – and then a comment such as yours comes along….

    Blessings, c

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