SALEM AND CUMBERLAND COUNTY BIRDING – ECSTASY CENTRAL

Land's End, Delaware Bay NJLand’s End, Delaware Bay, New Jersey:

I could name this post, “Air-conditioned Birding.”

When it’s too hot to hike (as this morning proved, though I completed it, barely…), there are two ideal NJ places to bird in the air-conditioned car:  Brigantine/Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, near Atlantic City; and Salem and Cumberland Counties.

Sunset Bridge, Salem County Winter

Sunset Bridge, Salem County Winter

Pat and Clay Sutton’s super-complete guide to Birding Cumberland taught me these sites, and will guide you expertly.

Mary Wood and I spent a 12-hour day of coolness, last weekend, in watery reaches near the Delaware Bay, my favorite landscape on earth.

Come with us, to the wide waters, limitless “meadows of grass,” to glint of sun on ever-changing rivers and creeks and spits and bays.

Glide with us along dike roads between impoundments, through woodlands, alongside Dividing Creek to boardwalks at Bivalve’s Strawberry Lane to Pete Dunne’s Turkey Point, site of hidden herons.

Osprey Flight at Nest, by Brenda Jones

Osprey Flight at Nest, by Brenda Jones

Salem and Cumberland are unknown havens, where it seems every black dot in the sky is either an eagle or an osprey!

Majestic Eagle by Brenda Jones

Majestic Eagle by Brenda Jones

Tides are ever present, altering everything.  When it seems every molecule of water has been withdrawn, and all that is left of the marshes is shimmer, an egret will be doubled in that sheen

Great Egret Fishing, by Brenda Jones

Great Egret Fishing, by Brenda Jones

In between lands’ ends, –where the shorebirds hunt–, one moves between fields dotted with the bright faces of the best of summer’s wildflowers.  Marsh mallows quivering near water (not food, but hibiscus-like flowers); sunflowers grinning; Joe Pye Weed reaching for the sky and filling with butterflies.

Cabbage White Butterflies Nectaring, by Brenda Jones

Cabbage White Butterflies Nectaring, by Brenda Jones

Quirky names enliven the day’s intensive drives — Husted’s Landing, Nibbock’s Pork Store, Bunker and Blood Worms, Clams & Tackle, shedders and oysters.  We’re not in Kansas any more…

Preserved Farm, Salem County

Preserved Farm, Salem County

All the farms are prosperous, most of them multi-generational.  There is a strong preservation ethic in the Delaware Bayshores.  Our people at D&R Greenway have been involved literally at the grass roots level.  One of the Intrepids, Bill Rawlyk, can name everyone in most families, and identify their proud crops.  Soybeans are knee-high.  Corn is not to the elephant’s level, but every bit fully tasseled out.  In a distant field, a combine raises archangels of dust as it makes its ponderous way among the rows.  Out behind a venerable red barn, bright laundry snaps in the morning air.

Small town houses are quirky as the signs, narrow and shingled, weathered, survivors with skinny chimneys.  Farmhouses tend toward the palatial, solidity itself.  The American Dream — it’s real, in Salem and Cumberland.

Mannington Farmhouse

Mannington Farmhouse

Out toward the landings, marinas, and beaches, we are forever treated to the sinuous flight of dark cormorants, the billowing wingbeats of egrets.  At mean low tide, at Strawberry Lane, every tussock resembles and upside-down cast-iron cooking pot.  And each one holds a gleaming, almost blinding, turtle in the sun.  Our feet make hollow sounds on the boardwalk, interspersed with whisper/chatter of darting swallows, the lazy hum of bees.

Cormorant with Lunch, By Brenda Jones

Cormorant with Lunch, By Brenda Jones

A statue of a Holstein crowns the roof of the Frozen Custard stand.  Nurseries are EVERYwhere, bursting with vibrant stock.  Silver Queen corn is for sale on a broad earthen driveway, honor box for your cash.

Flags are important down here.  They are bought and raised by individual homeowners, who are proud of this land — not to flap ceaselessly in the wind over Japanese car dealers.  There aren’t any car dealers — but many repairers.  WELDING is a normal sign, and PUMPS for sale, and DRILLING.

Welcome to Fortescue

Welcome to Fortescue

Out of the tiny towns and back at the lands’ ends, we are treated to the rattley chatter of marsh wrens, hovering over marsh shrubs that support their amazing vertical foot-ball shaped nests.  En route to Heislerville and at Strawberry Lane, eagle and osprey nests are everywhere.  Once in awhile, we’re given the Tinkerbell-light voice of a vigilant osprey.  One eagle nest is so enormous, we name it ‘a McNest.’  All are occupied.  At one point we had two eagle nests in one glass, and a slight change in perspective brought the osprey nest into the lens.

Immature American Bald Eagles by Brenda Jones

Immature American Bald Eagles by Brenda Jones

We’re always glad to get back into the cool car, but we never want to leave those eagles!

Pristine Dunes of Fortescue -- where horseshoe crabs congregate in May

Pristine Dunes of Fortescue — where horseshoe crabs congregate in May

Walking through (new, since Sandy) dunes, opening to the Delaware Bay itself, which seems limitless, marvelous tough blinding green holdfasts keep that sand in place.  We don’t know the plant names, but some even bear minuscule white flowers.  [The picture above was taken in spring, before bright green protective spurts emerged.]

Overhead, we hear moan of fish crow and squawk of heron.

Great Blue Heron Take-off, by Brenda Jones

Great Blue Heron Take-off, by Brenda Jones

We delight at a tree full of (rare to us) cliff swallows in the Glades, a gossiping crew whose collected voices feel like fresh water droplets cascading over us.  We tear ourselves from swallows, to revere a tri-colored heron, calmly preening as though there were not two intense humans holding something odd to their eyes, fastened on every ruffle of feather.

“Salem and Cumberland”, I find written in my journal:  “Luminosity everywhere!”

But let Mary tell it, with her careful notes:

(this is what avid birders do when they’re NOT driving…

gardens are obviously also important to Mary!)

red-tailed hawk

crows and vultures

unidentified raptor zooming into a yard

crape myrtle

mimosa

“TERMITES!” (sign)

skunk smell

kettle of vultures (‘takes two to kettle’ – swirl of vultures riding thermal air currents)

OYSTERS of Fortescue

houses on stilts

cinder-block house with cinder blocks out front to sit on

immature herring gull

six or seven eagles (we had become this casual)

laughing gulls

3 great egrets

blooming roses

black-eyed Susans

tree swallows

Barn Swallow, Sunset, By Brenda Jones

Barn Swallow, Sunset, By Brenda Jones

first swallows ‘lining up’ – preparing for migration, on power line

2 mocking birds

great blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, osprey adult and young, tri-colored heron, cliff swallows filling tree, marsh wrens, laughing gulls learning to hover, people crabbing on Turkey Point bridge, squawk of black-crowned night herons hidden in underbrush, and (learned from her birding app, a sound that turned out to be) THE GRUNTING OUTBURST OF A CLAPPER RAIL!

Black-crowned night heron, from web

Black-crowned night heron, from web

bald eagle in tree the entire time we were at Strawberry Lane boardwalk; ditto osprey, in a different tree

immature American bald eagle practicing soaring, quite expert, overhead, heading toward ‘McNest’

cacophony of marsh wrens

turtles on tussocks

unidentified shorebirds [on wing, white/black, white/black, extremely determined,beginning migration (!)]

flock of least terns over dike road leading from Heislerville

Heislerville Rookery from internet

[ruined] rookery at Heislerville: many double-crested cormorants [in trees, air and water], black-crowned night herons

(mature, immature), and three in water at island edge

immature BCNH by Geoff Coe Ft. Myers FL001

Immature Black-Crowned Night Herons by Geoff Coe of Fort Myers, Florida

East Point Lighthouse

East Point Light with Storm Coming

East Point Light with Storm Coming

(no sign from approach road — “Bike Trail”)

Forster’s Tern Least Tern  — side-by-side on old dock pilings

single white-rumped sandpiper — [feeding right at our feet!]

single great cormorant, flying low and ponderously

4 red knots, no longer in breeding plumage

flocks of uniform shorebirds [zeroing around the point, intent migrants]

osprey nest with one young and two parents

great black-backed gull at dumpster at Mauricetown Diner !  [these are saltwater birds!]

osprey nest [alongside highway   47?  or 55?  not far beyond diner]

first robin of the day

***

We started this post in dire heat, and I am typing it in same, on the last day of July.  Here’s a picture of intent birder Mary Wood (who even works weekly to rehabilitate birds and hurt animals in the Animal Shelter south of Lambertville.)  It could’ve been 20 that day, on the boardwalk at Strawberry Lane.  Sun was obviously leaving.  But there was always one last bird….!

Great Ducks of Sundown Cumberland County March 2015

Advertisements

VIBRANT LOCAL FOODS: INDOOR WINTER FARM MARKET, @ D&R GREENWAY lAND TRUST FEB. 14

Winter Farm Market at D&R Greenway, Sat. 2/14   10 a.m. to 2 p.m

 

Organic Treasures, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Organic Treasures, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Local treasures, organic excellence, awaits at the Indoor Winter Farm Markets, sponsored by Slow Food Central Jersey and the managers of the spectacularly successful West Windsor Farm Market, open on Vaughn Drive in the growing season.

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know I work for D&R Greenway Land Trust.  No, we don’t grow food, nor even grapes for wine.  But we have been saving land in New Jersey for 26 years, and farm land increasingly requires our attention and preservation.

One of the joys of my life, as my Packet NJWILD readers and my NJWILDBEAUTY readers know, is farm food, especially when purchased at some rustic site from the people who planted, nourished, tended, harvested, and brought to market these treasures.

Brussels Bounty - Terhune Orchards -- Indoor Winter Farm Market at D&R Greenway

Brussels Bounty – Terhune Orchards — Indoor Winter Farm Market at D&R Greenway

It’s hard for a poet and/or a journalist to admit that a picture is worth 10,000 words.  But it’s true, darn it.

So let these images, from the January Indoor Winter Farm Market at D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work most days, at One Preservation Place, off Rosedale Road, in Princeton (08540), convince you to attend the one on Valentine’s Day, February 14, from 10 to 2.  The cognoscenti know to arrive close to ten.  Music peals through our 1900 barn, and wondrous information is ours, as shoppers, from the farmer/proprietors/preparers!  You may call us at 609 924 4646 for information beforehand, but the Staff will not be at their desks on Saturday.  You’ll find a number of us, with our sustainable bags, moving from vendor to vendor, choosing the best of the best of the Garden State.

Indoor Winter Farm Market at D&R Greenway - Terhune's Apples

Indoor Winter Farm Market at D&R Greenway – Terhune’s Apples

Divine Mushrooms, D&R Greenway hosts Indoor Winter Farm Market

Divine Mushrooms, D&R Greenway hosts Indoor Winter Farm Market

Des Champignons- Mushroom Feast, Indoor Winter Farm Market at D&R Greenway Land Trust

Des Champignons- Mushroom Feast, Indoor Winter Farm Market at D&R Greenway Land Trust

Mushroom Girl, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Mushroom Girl, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Local Honey -- Immune Booster, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Local Honey — Immune Booster, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Last of the Cranberries from the Pine Barrens, Indoor Winter Farm Market at D&R Greenway Land Trust

Last of the Cranberries from the Pine Barrens, Indoor Winter Farm Market at D&R Greenway Land Trust

Kale Cascade Farm Market DRG Jan 2015

KALE!

Jerry and his rare Cheeses, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Jerry and his rare Cheeses, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Jams by Kim, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Jams by Kim, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

"I say it's Spinach!" - Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

“I say it’s Spinach!” – Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Honey and Beeswax, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Honey and Beeswax, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Handmade Soap, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway

Handmade Soap, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway

Grass-fed Meats, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Grass-fed Meats, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway Land Trust

Vibrant Greens, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway

Vibrant Greens, Indoor Winter Farm Market, D&R Greenway

This is only a sampling, taken at random, with delight, for the January Farm Market.  Did you think foods this alive were available in the heart of winter?  February 14 is Saturday – no better gift for a Valentine than live healthy local foods.  March 1, Slow Food Central Jersey and West Windsor Farm Market folks will bring you these splendors at Tre Piani, Forrestal Village — owned and chefed by Jim Weaver, founder of Slow Food Central Jersey.  March 14 will bring these treasures back to D&R Greenway.

When we save land, as we’ve been doing since 1989, one of our major purpose is to make healthy lifestyles more available and more appealing.

Come to our restored barn, where animals and vegetables fed the family of “The General”, Robert Wood Johnson, while they lived at Morven.  See the magnificent art on our walls, and buy masterpieces for you home.  A percentage of the purchase price supports our preservation and stewardship.  Sign up for our programs on nature, on science, on native plants, on the Raritan River — weave yourself into the health, beauty and sustainability of our region!

And feast, for weeks afterwards, on foods for which city dwellers would ‘give their eye teeth’!  Bobolink Dairy, Cherry Grove Farm, Terhune Orchards, are only a few of the vendors who fill all the art galleries of our barn for these country events.

Besides, It’s Fun!