NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that my favorite haven in all of New Jersey is the Brigantine Wildlife Refuge, in the Pine Barrens, eerily slightly above Atlantic City. Those of you who followed NJWILD, during all the years before the Packet abruptly ended their blogs, have seen ‘The Brig’, a.k.a. The Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, in all weathers. Well, almost all:
By this time, I figure everyone knows we go down there for the birds. I nearly titled this post, “What birds?” First of all because this Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge is frozen to such a degree that there is barely any open water. In order to feed, most birds require water.
We had to be really bundled up out there, with a fierce wind out of the southwest. Masefield was wrong. It’s not “a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries”…
Fellow Cool Woman Poet, Lois Harrod, and her husband, Lee, both professors at The College of New Jersey, have been turned into avid birders by their very young, very advanced grandson, Will. You can see how geared up we had to be, to be OUT there. I nominate Lois and Lee now, to join Jeanette Hooban, Bill Rawlyk, and Mary Penney — The Intrepids.
Which is more unreal – a saltwater bay, The Absecon, frozen, or Atlantic City hovering there. Lee Harrod yesterday and Rose Mary Clancy today, Lee in situ and Rosemary seeing this picture, pronounced Atlantic City “Oz.”
O, yes, birds. Did we see any birds? Indeed — they are the true Intrepids. Ducks are in full breeding plumage now, and carrying on accordingly. Some sort of natural magic sees to it that fertilization doesn’t take place until it’s o.k for eggs to form and be deposited soon. In the interim, the male ducks have never been more splendid.
NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that my camera doesn’t do birds. Here’s one — the least snazzy of all we saw. This is the indigenous black duck, with his glorious red-orange legs, preening and prancing on the frozen impoundment, to the evident indifference of females. What is sad, for the black duck males, is that their females prefer vivid mallards. In this way, this natural way, we could see the end of black ducks in our time. Meanwhile, he’s bravely doing the best he can.
The black duck flock is huddled against the far shore, very typical behavior. It is also all too typical for this camera to ignore the birds. I threw OUT the lovely snap of the two mute swans, orange beaks gleaming. They’re too far away — reduced practically to gulls. I’m not insulting those noble swans by releasing that image. You should know, however, that we saw a number of mutes; four handsome tundra swans, with their black beaks and yellow lores; and three trumpeter swans, two majestic ones in flight over an inlet that led toward Absecon Bay. There’s nothing to equal the stately rowing of trumpeters on the wing. No, they did not trumpet. Maybe they were too cold. And too far, for sure, for my camera. But stunning.
This is a test. Can you find that bird? You can see that snow still clots most trees down there, a day and a half after that terrible storm. We found the bird because so many birders were out of their cars (rare any day at the Brig, but especially in this weather), huge lenses in hand.
As we took our time along the dike road, we were treated to saucy pintails, imposing hooded mergansers, silly bobbing buffleheads, ring-necked gulls. either three female harriers, or one female three times, a sharp-shinned hawk back at the entry, angle-zipping low alongside the woods, all those swans, no snow geese, some Canada geese, mallards and black ducks and that’s about it. No snowy owls when the ground’s that frozen — mice and voles being inaccessible. The ever-present gift of female northern harriers thrilled throughout the day.
Pine Barrens landscape, which incredible beauty was ours for 2/3 of Saturday’s journey.
Beneath this magnificence is a 17-trillion-gallon aquifer. Once New Jersey knew enough to prevent the legendary Wharton’s draining it to fill his pockets and water Philadelphia. Our jewel in the crown, Pine Barrens peatwater filled Pine Barrens white cedar casques, when they were not filled with Pine Barrens cranberries to stave off scurvy. This healthy water lasted for three-year whaling voyages. It is beyond price, and the Pine Barrens Preservation Commission was formed to protect it and the noble pines and oaks and understory above.
Now an egregious act, the stacking of the Pine Barrens Commission, stand to permit a PIPELINE in this INTERNATIONAL BIOSPHERE PRESERVE. Government “of the people, by the people and for the people” has been banished from New Jersey.
Wherever you are, in person, by letter, on social media, on links to Audubon, Sierra, NJ Conservation Foundation, wherever — do all in your power to keep poisonous pipelines our of New Jersey.
Nowhere is this more important than in the Pine Barrens.
Water may prove a more priceless resource than oil in the climate-destroyed years that are our fate at this time.
Even preserved land is not immune to PIPELINES.