Base of Sandy Hook Light
NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that I treasure winter along our magnificent Jersey coasts. You may overlook the fact that we have three: The Atlantic, The Delaware River; and Delaware Bay. This is heaven for this Midwesterner, who never even saw saltwater until the summer between seventh and eighth grade. This is troublous for one who is all too aware of sea-level rise in the twenty-first century.
Tasha O’Neill Looking Back at the Mainland from the Barrier Island that is Sandy Hook in HOT September!
Two friends willingly planned a Sandy Hook jaunt for yesterday, not really realizing that it was Valentine’s Day. My companions that day were my former Packet editor, Ilene Dube, who insisted that I blog for her paper ages ago…, and my fine-art-photographer friend Tasha O’Neill. I owe my first blog, NJWILD for the Packet, and its successor, NJWILDBEAUTY to Ilene – who insisted I do this, when I did not know what a blog was!
Manhattan from Sandy Hook on a Windy Spring Day – North End of Barrier Island
We’d planned to visit Monmouth University first for three art exhibitions, especially James Fiorentino’s of Conserve Wildlife NJ. But the sun burst out as we headed due east, and Sandy Hook won post position.
Spermaceti Cove and Boardwalk, High Tide, January 2017
Ilene had not known such New Jersey treasures as Little Silver and Colt’s Neck, let alone the equestrian paradise of Monmouth County. Our drive through Rumson’s array of true mansions brought up amazing comparisons — Newport, Bar Harbor… And then we were crossing the glinting Navesink River, the Atlantic Ocean stretching into infinity before us. This Michigander can never believe that scene!
Verrazano and Tip of Manhattan from Sandy Hook’s Northernmost Trail
Birding Essentials: Kathleen and Jim Amon: January 2017
Red-throated Loon in Winter Plumage on Pond for Amons and Me: Jan. 2017
Essential Tools for Birding Anywhere, especially Sandy Hook, especially Winter:
David Allen Sibley
There are no fees for ‘The Hook’ in winter, and never for birders (because you’ll be hiking, not swimming, not parking at crowded beach sites of summer). I see us tumbling like children in our eagerness to get close enough to the waves. The ocean was a pale and delicate hue, baby-boy-blanket-blue.
Working Harbor in Winter, Across Navesink from Sandy Hook Preserve
No matter where we turned, everything was pristine and exquisite. The few sounds included mutterings of gulls and whispering waves.
Where the Rabbit Loped, January 2017
Later, on the wast side, we would be treated to the nature sound I cherish – murmurings among a flock of brant. These small goose-like birds, ==whose shape in the water echoes small air-craft carriers–, have only just arrived at ‘the Hook.’ They swam in determined flotillas, more tourists than residents, –zipping first here, then there, as if renewing old ties.
Brant Sipping at Low Tide, by Brenda Jones
In peaceful water, toy-like buffleheads, quintessential diving ducks, bobbed up anddown, arrived and departed, vanished and materialized with characteristic merriment.
Ray Yeager – Key Fine Art Photographer of Winter Ducks: Male Bufflehead
Ilene was fascinated to see all the osprey nests — some on human-built platforms; some on the chimneys of venerable yellow-brick military dwellings. Some platforms, especially at the hawk watch platform (north), had been emptied by recent storms.
Birding Spermaceti Cove in Winter — Seals on Skull Island off to our Left
Even though it was February, a heat haze of the most exquisite soft-slate-blue obscured not only the Verrazano Bridge, but also Manhattan’s Wall Street megaliths. Only nature was in view from the platform that day.
View from Hawk Watch Platform on Windy Spring Day
Grasses at Spermaceti Cove looked as though they’d been repeatedly beaten into submission by a glacier, not simply by recent high tides. Glistening mud of the inlet’s banks was spattered with deep raccoon ‘hand’-prints, where these nocturnal mammals had washed recent foods before eating.
Sandy Hook Marsh Grasses, January 2017
I am a realist. We are nowhere near the vernal equinox. But, yes, days are lengthening, amazingly at both ends.
Christmas on the Navesink River from Bahrs
Yes, every once in awhile, a balminess arrives. When three friends can celebrate together, even to feasting at Bahrs, the 100-year-old Highlands seafood restaurant high above the Navesink. Where we could down Delaware Bay oysters and other rare treats, before taking in all three art exhibits in three different buildings at Monmouth University, without wearing coats. Then drive home in golden light, through the Battlefield of Monmouth, without which we would not have a country.
When Birders Lunch at Bahrs
I cannot help wondering what our colonial heroes would think of the country they fought and many died to save, in so many New Jersey battles. But our is a noble history. Their pledging and/or giving their lives, their fortunes, but never their sacred honor, cannot be for naught.
Patriots’ Flag at Site of Battle of Chestnut Neck, in Pine Barrens
From start to finish, Mother Nature herself had given Ilene, Tasha and me treasured Valentines. The red and white, however, decorated Sandy Hook’s Storied Light, rather than hearts. Lighthouses and 13-Star Flags, however, always warm MY heart. I hope they warm YOURS!
Try beaches in winter!
Sandy Hook’s Heroic Lifesaving Station
And preserve every inch of open and historic space in magnificent New Jersey!
Tasha and I on her COLD April Birthday — at Bahrs, Sandy Hook Behind Us…