Purported Wildlife Refuge — Waterfowl-Killing Guide and Flood Remnants, Scott’s Landing, near Smithville, NJ
Does it seem to anyone else as though the sun never shines?
Literally and metaphorically, I mean…
Seems as though every excursion planned with any of the Intrepids is either diminished or actually cancelled, by weather.
How to Kill and Make a Killing, Scott’s Landing and Atlantic City, NJ
NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that what I must do, [whether to flee personal tragedies beyond bearing, let alone the current political situation in this former “land of the free”], is to take intensive, day-long, nature pilgrimages.
On February 1, a dear friend and I took off for the Brigantine Wildlife Refute, above Atlantic City, on Absecon Bay. To our intense shock, ‘reparations’ of the refuge are still proceeding — to the effect that we could not enter, nor drive even to Gull Tower #I nor Gull Tower #2.
A biologist, who required our identification of snow geese, regretfully but firmly did not allow us to proceed. Enormous red trucks zoomed and roared everywhere. The official revealed that the truckers complain to her, “Those PEOPLE [meaning birders] are CRAZY!” Yes, indeed. Guilty as charged. All who travel to the Brig are there to experience wildlife where the wild creatures had always been plentiful and safe!
Crows and a VERY FEW Snow Geese, on a normal Brigantine Winter’s Jaunt
Leeds Eco-Trail, a ‘board’walk, was all that remained available in this shrine frequented by New Jersey’s most committed birders. In winter, we make pilgrimage there for snow geese beyond counting, for tundra swans and sometimes even the rare trumpeter swans, and all the winter ducks.
Bufflehead Male by Brenda Jones
We took our disgruntled selves down to Church Road in Absecon, where any number of avocets had pranced and preened a year ago right now. But, due to high water, the array of sandbars that had served those rare shorebirds had vanished absolutely. All we could find on the unexpected lake were resident mallards, habituated to cars! Squawking and demanding, the handsome green-headed ducks and their muted females surrounded us.
Mr. and Mrs. Mallard in Full Breeding Plumage by Brenda Jones
Obviously, humans have not learned never to feed wild animals, since our food is junk food to them: As with the foxes of Island Beach, human food fills the stomachs of wildlings. But our offerings do not nourish appropriately; seriously subverting their immune systems. In Absecon, very odd, almost comical hybrid ducks swam and begged with the traditional mallards. I was too chagrined to take pictures. Only Brenda can render mallards attention-getting!
My friend, Fay Lachmann, and I took ourselves next to Scott’s Landing, where NJWILDBEAUTY readers well know that Tasha and Alan and I spend many a merry Christmas. Those magical days are rich in fellowship first; birding second; and Tasha’s elegant picnics, in sun (whatever THAT is) and new snow, among rare winged creatures, often beyond counting.
Bleakness of February, 2017, Scott’s Landing, looking south.
February 2017 finds Scott’s Landing a wasteland; a travesty of the concept of refuge. It’s always a shock, in hunting season, to see all those flat wooden images of various winged fowl, with numbers as to the size and shape of ducks and geese at so many yards. “The better to shoot you, my dear…”
It’s harder yet to come upon successful hunters at Scott’s Landing, triumphantly laying out bloodied prey upon these sandy, wood-rimmed stretches that pass for the driving area of the Landing.
When Tasha and Alan and I are there at Christmas, our ‘guests’ include elegant great egrets, all white and gold and sheer nobility; as well as stately, ashen ‘blue’ herons. At dusk in warmer times, Scott’s Landing is ideal for rails; even bitterns. In this season, we should have seen hordes of snow geese and heard their mellifluous ‘chattering’.
At Scott’s Landing, Fay and I saw no living creature.
Blue Crab Remnants, Scott’s Landing
Flood Remnants, Scott’s Landing
Flood Detritus, Scott’s Landing
Flood-scoured Scott’s Landing — Water does NOT Belong Inside These Barricades!
Flood-Chewed Scott’s Landing — this is the LAND side of the barricade...
Sea-level Rise Alters Scott’s Landing
How Scott’s Landing Looked the Christmas after Hurricane Sandy
Tasha O’Neill with our Christmas Picnic, the year of Sandy – note sunlight...
The Brig, (Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge) after Sandy was a far, far better refuge/antidote than was our recent experience. In the picture below, note that post-Sandy sign announcing: TRAILS ARE OPEN.
For Fay and me, not only were no trails open on February 1, 2017. Even along the too-brief Leeds Eco-Trail, we could see but a smattering of snow geese settling onto nearby grasses. And not the wing of a single other bird, in this renowned bird refuge. I lay those empty skies and grasslands to all the disruption, since I received the notice: “Wildlife Drive Closures Begin Monday, September 12th.” “WORK IS EXPECTED TO TAKE SEVERAL MONTHS TO COMPLETE.”
Purported road repairs (never evident so far) and major building are the norm at Forsythe “Refuge” now. And the truckdrivers wonder why ‘those people’ are ‘crazy’…
Post-Sandy — Far Better Than Now
FOOT ACCESS ONLY — FOOT TRAILS ARE OPEN – THE BRIG after Sandy
Snow Geese and Blue Skies and White Clouds!!! in normal times
Snow Geese Undisturbed, The Brig in Normal Times