Sandy Hook June Scenes with Jeanette-the-Intrepid

We go to the Shore to cool off, right?  Not last Saturday!  Sandy Hook was as steamy and stifling as Manhattan, despite intense winds that had the flags in whipping/ripping full-out mode.  Nonetheless, Jeanette Hooban (the original Intrepid) and I made the most of our day there on Saturday.

You should know that The Powers That Be want to desecrate / destroy forested areas of Sandy Hook, in order to construct buildings to house vehicles.  Any chance you get to protest this travesty, take it.  Sandy Hook is a key segment of the Atlantic Flyway, essential to birds in migration in spring and autumn.  Nests of rare, threatened, endangered species are everywhere.  Write editors and congresspeople, insisting they honor habitat, for once facilitating the lives and hatchings of these spectacular birds!

 

Black_Skimmer_by_Dan_Pancamo

Black Skimmer Skimming, from Internet

Star of the day was either the black skimmer skimming on the ocean side (they usually prefer bays and impoundments), or the strutting oystercatcher, also on the ocean side, so near hordes of New Yorkers screaming in the surf.

American_Oystercatcher_Strutting from Internet

Oystercatcher Strutting, from Internet

great-egret from internet

Great Egret Landing, from Internet

The winds were so high that all water surfaces were pleated like the cotton plisse of childhood summer pajamas.  Neither the ospreys nor the egrets could see into the water to fish.  Seven egrets surrounded an oxbow pond, beside the Shrewsbury River.  It seemed that they were stabbing blindly in quest of lunch.

osprey-with-bass from Internet

“Osprey Packing a Lunch” from Internet

That entire day, –and we confirmed this with other birders–, we only saw one osprey ‘packing a lunch,’ the waters were so turbulent.  This one was flying practically from the entry toll booths (it’s free to bird there!) to a nest on a chimney of the officers’ (ruined) houses, where his mate searched plaintively.  We told her, “He’s on his way.  He’s having a bad day at the office.”

osprey-nest-abandoned-house-sandy-hook-osprey nests on chimneys

Osprey Nest on Officer’s House Chimney, Sandy Hook

sandy-signatures-officers-houses-sandy-hook ruined officers' buildings

Ruined Officers’ Houses 2 Years Ago – they look exponentially worse now!

Prickly Pear in Bloom Sandy Hook

Prickly Pear Cactus in Bloom, June 2016, Sandy Hook

Salt Spray Rose Sandy Hook June 2016

Salt Spray Rose in Bloom, June 2016, Sandy Hook

Mysterious House Sandy Hook

Mysterious Officer’s Mansion, Sandy Hook

ravages-of-time-bunker-sandy-hook-extremely hazardous area

Extremely Hazardous Area – Old Battery near North Beach, Sandy Hook

sandy-destruction-close-up-sandy-hook Decaying Porches

Sandy-Rearranged Bricks, Officers’ Houses

Jeanette Meets the Atlantic Sandy Hook June 2016

Jeanette Merrily Wades in the June Atlantic, Sandy Hook

Impressionist View New Yorkers in Atlantic at Sandy Hook

Impressionist Scene, New Yorkers Streaming to, Screaming in, the Surf

HOW GREEN WAS OUR VALLEY, — The Delaware Valley

When I reflect on the spring nearly past, all I see is grey  — in skies and clouds, in ceaseless chill rains, in blinding fogs, and in my own imprisoned mood.  However, there were excursions, stolen between the raindrops, which reveal the incredible bounty of the Delaware Valley.

Thanks to courageous women, this preserve was saved for all time, to showcase the rarest wildflowers which belong in all the woods and all along the banks of our beloved Delaware River.

BOWMAN’S HILL WILDFLOWER PRESERVE

below New Hope, PA

Toad Trillim

Toad Trillium Among the Bluebells, Bowman’s, April 2016

Celandine and Bluebells by the Creek

Celandine and Bluebells line trail along PIdcock Creek

Stroll with me on the well-tended trails, beautifully restored after Hurricane Sandy’s depredations — so very far from the sea of its birth.  Open all your senses, as the work week, this techno-century rarely permit.  Inhale the very fecundity of the good earth, celebrated so brilliantly by Pennsylvania’s Pearl S. Buck.  Let your ears learn your first phoebe!, phoebe!; the purrrrrr of red-bellied woodpeckers in healthily aged trees; the scree! of a single red-tailed hawk high above the almost leafed-out canopy.  Absorb quintessential tranquillity, where the creek’s murmurs and whispers call you ever more deeply into the sacred woods.Bluebell Sea

Bluebell Sea, Where I Usually Begin my Bowman’s Explorations

It’s worth doing Bowman’s for the Medicinal Trail alone.  There I first heard and almost saw the pileated woodpecker dive from tree to tree.  There a young boy, –thrilled as I to watch spring’s first garter snakes unwind from winter’s tangle–, splashed into the creek to save a snake who’d tumbled in.  Along the creek, forest monarchs rest, Sandy-felled, roots taller than two or three humans standing on one another’s shoulders.  I always thank their majesties for their time here.

On the Medicinal Trail’s Bridge, a man and woman told me they’d just seen the (can it be?!) Louisiana Waterthrush.  All three of us watched a slender dark furry being curl and curve above the rocks, along the bank.  It was so at home, so sure in its hunting.  And we remained unsure whether it was mink or marten.  Above all, Medicinal Trail holds trillium of many hues and funny names.  No one can ever explain the name of the tight red one above (which never opens farther), somehow christened “Toad”.

First White Trilliujm

Virginal White Trillium

I’m always so pleased with the wondrous work of Staff and energetic, consummately generous Bowman’s volunteers.  Most invasives have been mastered.  Trails are well marked, well tended, pretty and inviting.  Boardwalks lead over (increasingly) wet spots.  Their gift shop is tasteful, gift-wise, and irresistible book-wise.  Whoever’s at the desk, usually a volunteer, is always happy to see each visitor and eager to serve.

White Trillium Close-Up

Shy Trillium

My only quarrel is that there is no sign on the Medicinal Trail, instructing the un-knowing, such as I, in what each rarity was used to treat — most likely discovered by local Lenapes, long before the concept of fenced preservation came into being.

Take yourself to Bowman’s in all seasons.  Ideal habitat for birds, for plants from anemone and twinleaf and bloodroot to prickly pear; and for voyagers, seeking an idyllic world – such as all of America was before we arrived, carrying with us the Anthropocene and all its losses and perils.

Become a Bowman’s member.  Join their invasive-pulling volunteers.  Attend their black tie and muck boots spring gala.  And murmur thanks to those wise early women who knew that saving beauty of this magnitude is essential to the human spirit.

NEW PHOTOS SENT FOR BLOG FROM BRENDA JONES, Fine Art Photographer

My dear friend and superb photographer, Brenda Jones, sends these images of a mink and a waterthrush, found nearby (to Princeton), and therefore likely at Bowman’s.  Enjoy her unique artistry!

Waterthrush with larvae by Brenda Jones

Waterthrush with Larvae by Brenda Jones

 

MinkMillstoneAqueduct by Brenda Jones

Mink, Millstone Aqueduct, by Brenda Jones

ISLAND BEACH: BAREFOOT IN APRIL!

 

 

My normal reaction to climate change, –formerly known as global warming–, blends shock, horror, and determination to convince everyone to do whatever you can to turn this catastrophe around.  Every once in awhile, I have to admit to guilty delight.  As in Jeanette’s and my barefoot day with Ray Yeager (fine art photographer) at Island Beach last weekend.

Barefoot Jeanette Island Beach April by Ray Yeager

Barefoot Jeanette and Barnegat Light, April Beach Day, 2016, by Ray Yeager

Jeanette Hooban and I miraculously met Ray Yeager, Fine Art Photographer who specializes in Island Beach and Acadia National Park, even though our restaurant meeting place hadn’t opened for the season as promised. We tucked into a massive breakfast somewhere else in Lavallette, having no idea where Ray might be, then headed into the Park.  There was probably never a more spectacular oceanic beauty  than we were given that day.

The Old and The New Island Beach April 2016

“O, Say, Can You See?” – Surf of Sunday at Island Beach

 

Blue Horizons Bayhead April 2016

April Surf, Bay Head, New Jersey

 

Roll On  Bayhead Morning Surf April 2016

Jeanette and Bayahead Surf April 2016

Early Morning Solitude, April, Bay Head

Jeanette tumbled hard for her first osprey on the nest, out by the ten-mile nearly empty entry road.  “That’s the closest I’ve ever been to an osprey.”  “You want osprey, I know how to get you much closer than this.”  So we changed our plan to go straight to the tip of the Park and hike to Barnegat Light.  Spizzle Creek Bird Blind drew us.  Not five minutes onto the trail, there was Ray.  So we were able to spend the day together after all.

Discussing Bird Possibilities Island Beach April 2016

Discussing Birding Possibilities, Spizzle Creek Trail

The air that sunny day was full of osprey.  Carrying fish.  Feeding one another.  Portaging nest materials.  Even mating.  Singing their frail but penetrating love songs.  Displaying wing designs of the complexity and brilliance of Navajo rugs, as Jeanette described it.  Look up Ray Yeager Photography Blog (and follow it) in the next few days.  I’m sure he’ll feature that displaying osprey over the real tree in which the real birds were building a real nest.  In other words, this was no platform!

First Osprey on Nest Island Beach April 2016

First Osprey on the Nest, Next to Entry Road

Great egrets moved about the mainland near the Sedge Islands on Barnegat Bay, with the dignity of monarchs.  Snowy egrets were either fighting or courting or both, and comical as circus clowns.  Their golden slippers were usually deep in marshwater, but their antic behavior proved the identifying feature.  These shore birds are exceptionally at home along Barnegat Bay and among the Sedge Islands.  Not long ago, an environmental hero named Pete McLain, brought the osprey back to the Bay and peregrine falcons back to New Jersey.  I was lucky enough to kayak with him two years in a row, and hear the legendary tales.

Morning on Barnegat Bay Island Beach April 2016

Exquisite, Now Healthy, Barnegat Bay, thanks to Preservationists / Environmentalists

Healthy sinuous waterways glistened, as though diamonds that can float had been flung along their edges.  The waters themselves were that burnished chestnut color, otherwise known as peat tones, characteristic of Pine Barrens habitat.  The Bay had a palette of dreamlike delicacy.

Barnegat Bay Clarity Island Beach April

Barnegat Bay Clarity, April, 2016

Land's End Barnegat Bay Island Beach April

Land’s End. Barnegat Bay: This is New Jersey!

 

Sparkly Healthy Brnegat Bay sland Beach April

Sparkly, Healthy, Barnegat Bay – Kayakers’ Heaven

I’m showing all these Bay pictures, because most people admit they’ve never hiked that side, seen that watery miracle.  I also want to give you the feeling of appeal, even magnetism of Island Beach waters that day, that soon had us taking off our shoes and walking in hot silk sand.

Bare Feet of April Island Beach 2016

My Toes, Relishing Hot Sand, Finer than Talcum

But mine weren’t the only toes relishing that sand…

Sleeping Fox  Island Beach April 2016

“To Sleep, Perchance to Dream” — I have never come upon a sleeping fox before!

 

Balletic Fox  Island Beach April 2016

Elegant, Balletic Fox, Awake in Daytime (they’re nocturnal!)

 

Fox Tracks Big Dune Island Beach April

The Track of the Fox

 

Fox Farewell Island Beach April 2016

Fox Farewell of an April Morning

 

First Moss of Spring  Island Beach April 2016

First Moss of Spring – And I’ve been reading Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Irresistible “Gathering Moss”

 

Ray Yeager in his Element Barnegat Bay  Island Beach April

Ray Yeager, Usually ‘the King of the Foxes’ — they come out to him with their kits at midnight…

 

Photographer and Beachcomber Island Beach April 2016

The Photographer and the Beachcomber, Oceanside

 

Dune Patterns Island Beach April

Dune Patterns of April, Oceanside

 

Maple Flowers Island Beach April 2016

First Red Flowers of Maple Trees, Bayside

 

Exquisite Barnegat Bay Island Beach April

Exquisite Barnegat Bay — “Paradise Enow…”

 

Skate Egg Case Island Beach April 2016

Skate Egg Case, Way Out of Season — April

Sunlight in Spring’s First Ephemerals

Ephemerals are the frail, rare wildflowers of spring, which can bloom only until the forest canopy leafs out.  The finest collection I know is at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, over below New Hope.  Always realize, everyone, we would not have this bounty without PRESERVATION.  Support your local land trust, wherever you are, keeping wild lands, wild creatures and wild plants nearby and healthy.

April showers kept me from today’s planned nature quest.  But, tomorrow, a friend and I will head to Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, where spring should be awaiting us.  Here’s a collection of other early trips to Bowman’s, in more cooperative weather.

I have a number of very dear friends, who are dealing with serious health issues in people near and dear to them.  I wish I could take each of you to Bowman’s with me tomorrow.  I send you apring light in leaves of yesteryear.  With love.

Large-Flowered Trillium Bowman's April

Bowman/s Trillium

 

Trillium Bluebell Apotheosis Bowman's April 30

Red Trillium, Early Bluebells, Bowman’s

Being an amateur naturalist (never forget that the root of that adjective is love), I think the accurate name of this one is toad trillium.  Do you think that does it justice?

Second Cardinal Flower Bowman's Spring 2014

Cardinal Flower, Rock-Lover, Bowman’s, Spring

May Apple in April Bowman's 2015

May Apple in April, last year at Bowman’s

Bowman's Spring 2014 006

Wild Azalea, Early Spring, Bowman’s

I think it’s real name is pinxter, and the wonder is that it is native to that site!

Mysterious Mushroom Bowman's Spring 2014

Mysterious Mushroom of Bowman’s in Spring

 

False Hellebore Exultant

False Hellebore (the Pleated Ones) among the Skunk Cabbage

Bowman's Spring 2014 005

Very Early Trumpet Vine, Bowman’s in Spring

 

Snow Trillium Bowman's mid-April 2015

Rare Snow Trillium of Bowman’s last year in very early spring

One of the most irresistible sights for my friend, fine art photographer Tasha O’Neill, and myself, is the fiddlehead form of ferns:

Fiddlehead Family

Newborn Fiddleheads, Dwarfed by Young Skunk Cabbage

 

We have no idea what we will discover on the Violet Trail, the Medicinal Trail, Azalea Trail, Audubon Trail, Marsh Marigold Trail, tomorrow.  What we know, as NJWILDBEAUTY readers know from other blogs, there is BEAUTY to behold at Bowman’s in all seasons, even winter.

Jack Frost Art Nouveau Bowman's

Winter at Bowman’s, Before the Snow Trillium

 

 

 

WINTER ARTISTRY: BOWMAN’S HILL WILDFLOWER PRESERVE

Even though we call this NJWILDBEAUTY, readers know my steps frequently stray to nearby states, in quest of the Nature I MUST have!  This series reveals the wildflower preserve below New Hope, on a December morning walk.  Stroll with me.

And yes, I’m going to mention our era’s most critical challenge — catastrophic climate change.  These greens do not belong at Bowman’s in December!

Jack Frost Art Nouveau Bowman's

Winter’s Artistry Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve

Autumn Turns to Winter at Bowman's

Between Two Seasons, Bowman’s, above Pidcock Creek

 

Cezanne Palette at Bowman's

Cezanne Palette, Bowman’s in December

 

Fresh Greenery and Oak Leaves Bowman's

Fresh-sprung Greenery and Just-fallen Oak Leaves, Bowman’s, December

 

Squirrel Feast Bowman's

Squirrel’s Place-Setting, Bowman’s, near Pidcock Creek

 

New Ferns of Winter

New Ferns of December

 

Leaf Fall and Ice Bowman's

New Leaf Fall, New Ice, Bowman’s

 

Green Prickly Pear in Winter at Bowman's

Prickly Pear, Bright Green in December, Bowman’s — a native species in PA and NJ

 

Fungus Thrives on Sandy Relic at Bowman's

Turkey Tail Fungus Lives Up to its Name

 

Turkey Tail Fungus Earns its name at Bowman's

Turkey Tail Claims Sandy Victim

NJWILDBEAUTY readers are used to my proclaiming that Nature doesn’t close her doors with the advent of Labor Day.  Great beauty awaits, on all trails, outdoors, — with particularly special effects in winter.

Once again, though, none of this could we see, and perhaps much of it would not exist, were it not preserved through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.  A team of volunteers recently created a human chain to walk the last deer, allowed in by Sandy-destruction of fences, out to the wild beyond, where they belong.  Now all the glorious flowers can erupt in safety, once again.  Support your local non-profit; preserve your nearby open lands.

 

 

 

SUNNY MEMORIES: Brewster Beach Walk, Cape Cod

Once upon a time, it was October.  Jeanette Hooban, Carolyn Yoder and I were hiking a dunescape near Brewster on Cape Cod.  Virginia Creeper was at its peak.

Woodbine Brewster 'Wing' Trail to Island

Full-moon tides had barely seeped away to allow us access to a beckoning island.

Walking the Plank at Low Tide through Brewster 'Marsh's Wing' Trail

 

High Tide Plant at Low Tide Brewster 'Wing' Trail to Island

High Tide Plant shows us how far the sea can reach.

Compass Grass Drawing its Circles at Brewster 'Wing' Trail to Island

Compass plant scrawls its unique signature in sugary sand.

Autumnal Glory Salt Marsh Brewster 'Wing' Trail to Island

Hallowe’en is very late for peak color.

Low Tide at Cape Cod Bay Brewster 'Wing' Trail to Island

Oyster farmers arrive to gather their succulent harvest.

 

Hawk Tree Brewster 'Wing' Trail to Island

A sentinel tree beckons raptors.

 

Rose Hips Brewster 'Wing' Trail to Island

The last rose hips of summer.

Out of focus, but who has seen gold poison ivy?

Golden Poison Ivy at Brewster 'Wing' Trail to Island

“I must go down to the sea again, the lonely sea and the sky…”      (forever Masefield…)

Low Tide Oyster Harvesters at Brewster 'Wing' Trail to Island

 

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.