PURPLE MARTINING — MAURICE RIVER, Cumberland County, New Jersey

Martins by Joseph Smith martinmigration

Purple Martin Migration in Texas, Joseph Smith, from Internet: Typical Numbers of Martins over Maurice River in New Jersey, for Autumnal Migration

Major memories were granted last night, on the Bonanza II, on the Maurice River, in Shellpile, Cumberland County, New Jersey.    Come cruise with us, as we awaited dusk (martin-coalescence time).  And, –even more important, in the night’s exceptionally high tidewater–, see if we could get UNDER the Maurice River Bridge at Mauricetown.

Citizens United Purple Martin Cruise

Devoted Preservationists Purple Martin Cruise

Citizens United to Save the Maurice River and Its Tributaries:

Devoted Preservationists – Cruise Sponsors, Educators, Heroes and Heroines

Experts on board predicted “a million and a quarter”, if recent-night tallies were to be repeated.  What no one would predict was whether that exceptionally high tide, –swamping the boards of the docking area as we boarded–, would permit us to go under the Maurice River Bridge.  This year’s martins have been gathering about a half-mile north of that structure.

This is the largest martin-staging (for migration) area on the entire East Coast.  Endless phragmites marshes, and their abundant insects, call these swallow-relatives year upon year, to fatten for long, essenttial journeys to winter feeding grounds.

I carefully warned that night’s Intrepids — Anne Zeman, Mark Peel, Karen Linder, Mike Brill, Mary Wood and Susan Burns — that the trouble with this night would be that we would never be able to describe it, convey its magnitude, to others.

Shell Pile of Shell Pile NJ on Purple Martin Cruise night 2017

Shell Piles, of Shell Pile and Port Norris, Cumberland County, New Jersey

In earliest days, shell piles here and in Tuckerton were so tall, they served as landmarks guiding ships at sea.  In these tiny towns, there were more millionaires per block than anywhere in the world, due to the thriving oyster industry.   A nearby town was named Caviar for the abundance of that project, but that tragedy is another story…  MSX (multi-nucleated sphere unknown) equaled or surpassed biblical plagues in terms of the bivalves of Bivalve.  Now, this sleepy region stirs anew, as Rutgers-sponsored science brings resistant and succulent New Jersey oysters back to an expanding market.  My favorites are Cape May Salts, but a myriad of musical names heralds the resurgence of native oysters in our time.

Bonanza II High Tide Purple Martin Cruise

Bonanza II, at Exceptionally High Tide – due to prospective hurricanes and eclipse

 

Cruise Night Weather Purple Martin trip

Cruise Night Weather

Birders and preservationists will “pay any price, bear any burden” to see the objects of their passion.  So, I admit, –we who filled this boat this night, and others during pre-martin-departure weeks, would be scorned by Sarah Palin as “extreme environmentalists.”  Many in that group, if not most, spend serious constellations of hours doing whatever it takes to save habitats and species.

You ‘hear me’ prating of courage often in NJWILDBEAUTY.  Frequently, I call for these qualities anew, those embodied by our Founding Fathers and Mothers.  These Maurice River and purple martin and rare bird aficionados are right up there with those who caused our American Revolution to succeed.  Everything from science to publicity to education to hands-on- heroism – building and cleaning their homes each year;  martin-feeding (buying and tossing them crickets in a time of insect famine) and banding which reveals ‘our’ martins in faraway places, has been practiced by the group on board last night.

My camera does not do justice to small birds.  Therefore, enjoy Texas flight above for a sense of numbers arriving, descending, rising, feeding, interacting with one another, circling the boat, all the while half-muttering, half-singing, as dusk won its nightly victory   Bear with my feeble words in trying to bring the magic to all of you.

Feeding Frenzy Gulls Purple Martin Cruise

Gull Frenzy, Dusk, Shellpile NJ Dock

Gulls on HIgh Purple Martin Cruise

Gulls on High

Peak 'o' The Moon Battle site Purple Martin Cruise AugustPEAK O’ THE MOON, REVOLUTIONARY BATTLE-SITE on the Maurice River

This is my favorite battleground name in all history.  Trouble is, no one can ever tell us who won!

Awaiting Tidal Change Purple Martin Cruise

AWAITING TIDAL CHANGE ON THE BONANZA II —

Can we fit under the bridge…..????

 

Where Eagles Watched Purple Martin Cruise

WHERE EAGLES, PERCHED, OBSERVED BIRDWATCHERS, AFLOAT

Eagles were present, as were osprey and osprey nests – even natural ones, i.e., not on platforms  But they all took second billing, as we waited for martins to gather and swirl.

Clammers Return Purple Martin Cruise

“DAY IS DONE” — CLAMMERS’ RETURN ON THE MAURICE

 

When Systems Collide Purple Martin Cruise

WHEN SYSTEMS COLLIDE

Do not lose sight of the fact, NJWB Readers, that these wild weathers are the fall-out of climate change.  That those vanishing floorboards in the boarding/docking area, under strange moon tides, are not only climate-change generated, but visual proof of sea-level rise.  Let NO one try to convince you that this is a myth.  It is no myth, but an enormous threat, in New Jersey, the only state with three coasts.

Purple Martin Cruise August 2017 008

LOVLIEST BIRDER — INTREPID ANNE ZEMAN ON OSPREYS

No-Wake Zone Purple Martin Cruise

NO-WAKE ZONE ON THE MAURICE

 

Quahogggers Return Purple Martin Cruise

QUAHOGGERS’ RETURN FROM DELAWARE BAY

 

Impressionism Maurice River Purple Martin Cruise

BIRTH OF IMPRESSIONISISM — ON NEW JERSEY’S MAURICE RIVER

(Monet’s initially scorned masterpiece, however, was titled “Impression Soleil Levant” — Impression – Sun, Rising.  Ours was definitely “Soleil Couchant” — Sun Sinking, or ‘going to bed’, as the French naturally call it.

Where the Martins Roost Cruise

WHERE THE MARTINS ROOST — MAURICE RIVER PHRAGMITIES MARSHLANDS

 

Whistler Nocturne Maurice River Bridge Purple Martin Cruise

WHISTLER NOCTURNE – MAURICE RIVER BRIDGE

Sometimes I attempt to describe that sky obscured by martin hordes as resembling herbes de provence pressed into a leg of lamb.

Sometimes, I refer to skies banishing behind martins as giving us the lost esperience of tumblings and torrents of passenger pigeons, before we drove all of them into extinction.

Even last night’s experts balk at conveying this miracle to those who have not experienced it.  Next year, early on, contact Citizens United to Save the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, and be on board one of their (now six) dusk cruises into transcendance.

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RAINY-DAY BIRDING – ISLAND BEACH, NOVEMBER

View from the Coast Gard Watch Window, Island Beach, Rainy November Day

View from the Coast Gard Watch Window, Island Beach, Rainy November Day

NJWILDBEAUTY readers surely know by now, to borrow from Coleridge, Nature does not “fold up her tent like an Arab, and as silently steal away” after Labor Day. Quite the contrary!

These few images recreate Nature’s fulness, despite rain, last Saturday, November 7.

Drama, beauty, even miracles awaited us, as we tugged on our slickers and headed out on the beach.

"Down to the Sea Again" -- Fishermen Head to the Beach

“Down to the Sea Again” — Fishermen Head to the Beach

The Weather Guides had insisted there was only a 30% chance of rain for the Island Beach region.  But, as my urologist husband used to insist re surgery percentages, “For my patient, it’s 100%.”

For Jeanette and Me, 100 percent!

For Jeanette and Me, 100 percent!

For Jeanette Hooban and me, rain was indeed 100%, sometimes more ‘percentier’ than others.

"The Intrepid" Wades the Atlantic Merrily, November, 2015

“The Intrepid” Wades the Atlantic Merrily, November, 2015

Fishermen to the South of Us

Fishermen to the South of Us

The Day of Calm Fishermen

The Day of Calm Fishermen

Where the Pole Was

Where the Pole Was

The Track of the Fishermen

The Track of the Fishermen

"Could they be gannets?" - Jeanette Intent

“Could they be gannets?” – Jeanette Intent

We were welcomed by foxes.  You can either mentally zoom and crop on my terrible images, or just Google Ray Yeager Photography Blog to see (probably our very foxes that very day) his fine art superb images of the ruddy regals of Island Beach.  Thanks, Ray, for beauty, majesty, and everything from sleeping, leaping to fighting.

Fox Couple of Reed's Road - Right at Home, and the Rain didn't Bother Them, Either

Fox Couple of Reed’s Road – Right at Home, and the Rain didn’t Bother Them, Either

This Healthy Fox Was That Close to my Car - but my hands were shaking...

This Healthy Fox Was That Close to my Car – but my hands were shaking…

The foxes opened our outdoors day.  Whales were our finale.

As we turned to leave the fishermen’s beach, we took one last, reluctant look at the serene, majestic Atlantic.  Take the image below and multiply it by twenty or more.  All flowing south, just beyond the third waves.  A little larger than dolphins, but making that same loopy motion.  Not so frolicsome.  Very sure.  A singleton.  A threesome.   Four side-by-side.  The longer we looked, the more we saw.  As relaxed in their journey as our fishermen — who stopped everything to watch.

Later, in the Coast Guard Building, –newly opened and you can go upstairs to see what those heroes saw as they watched through storms–, the men painting the front room told us they were probably minkes, definitely on migration south.  They spend most of their lives on Island Beach.  This is the time they might be seen  But there was awe in the men’s voices, as they advised, “That was really special…”

Single Minke Whale, from Internet

Single Minke Whale, from Internet

Lavallette is not far above Island Beach.  We’d stood so very long in the rain, mesmerized by whales, that we decided rewards were in order:

Compensation

Compensation

A craft brew, with a Pennsylvania name, possibly Nockamixon.  Rather metallic.  Good with

Rainy Day Rewards at the Crab's Claw in Lavallette

Rainy Day Rewards at the Crab’s Claw in Lavallette

The oysters on the right are Delaware Bay — a miracle of resurrection.  Once there were more millionaires per block in and around Shellpile and Bivalve, NJ, because of oysters, than anywhere in the world.

Then MSX (multinucleated sphere unknown) wiped out the industry, the oystermen, the millionaires.  But New Jersey and Rutgers have undertaken heroic efforts to bring these hefty, meaty bivalves back to our (almost unknown) Delaware Bay and to our plates  They were divine.

Those on the left are Virginia oysters.  Not so large as Chincoteague, to be sure, but savory, briny and electrifying.

Hearty Virginia Oysters, Crab's Claw, Lavallette

Hearty Virginia Oysters, Crab’s Claw, Lavallette

Flounder with Lemon and Capers, Crab's Claw, Lavallette

Flounder with Lemon and Capers, Crab’s Claw, Lavallette

Our beautiful entrees were so delicate, probably only moments out of the sea.  They often mention, on their menu, the day’s special as “whatever is running.”  Meaning whatever fish are off-shore that day.  I always get the child’s view of a fish running on its little tail.

As NJWILDBEAUTY readers can experience, here, with Jeanette and me, Not fall nor rain, winter nor snow, can keep us from our appointed rounds, reveling in Nature, letting her bestow her countless gifts.

Remember, the Nature part of our excursion (and most if not all of them) could never happen without preservation.  Support your local land trust.