BIRDING ‘The Hook’ ~ Bombay, in Delaware

A ‘Life Bird’ for Carolyn, and most welcome to both of us — The Black-Necked Stilt of Bombay Hook

black-necked-stilt-from INternet

Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge is half again as large as ‘The Brig’, and far more generously treed.  It’s managed this year for wading birds, and we were given two life birds before we’d been in there 20 minutes.

Blue_Grosbeak_from INternet jpg

Second Life Bird for Carolyn — Blue Grosbeak

NOTE THAT ALL BIRD CLOSE-UPS ARE FROM THE INTERNET, not via cfe camera

Mary Wood and I dared a Delaware jaunt last Sunday, because of the heat.  Both Refuges are mostly birding-by-car (the ideal ‘blind’ for the birds — our presence in those metal cocoons does not alarm our avian friends)  Both refuges, also, in summer, are notorious for greenhead flies — carnivorous, or at least sangiferous winged beings, whom we do not add to our ‘Lists’ for the day.

Egrets Unlimited Bombay Hook July

AN ABUNDANCE OF EGRETS, Snowy, that is…

Immediately inside the park, we came to a cluster of dead trees, absolutely studded with snowy egrets.  Picture a Christmas Tree decorated by a hoarder, every ornament alive, with wings!

Salt Marsh Primeval Bombay Hook JulyGREAT EGRET AND GREAT BLUE HERON, below snowy-egret-studded tree

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Founded in 1937, ‘The Hook’ is a vital link in the Atlantic Flyway’s chain, “extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.”  Urgent in both spring and fall migration, admittedly there are always bird riches among these impoundments and woods.  Wading birds (long-legged shorebirds) of some species are already beginning the southward journey.  Mary is already planning our next jaunt — hoping for godwits, frankly.

Refuge with Trees Bombay Hook JulyTREE-RICH BOMBAY HOOK, with brown-eyed Susans and Queen Anne’s lace

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Summer Perfection Bombay Hook JulySUMMER PERFECTION, BOMBAY HOOK, JULY

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Immature great_blue_heron from Internet

IMMATURE GREAT BLUE HERON — rarity for Mary and me   (Internet)

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eastern-kingbird-michael-woodruff from Internet

EASTERN KINGBIRD SO NEAR — right beside car     (image from Internet)

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Goldfinch with Thistles Fredric-D-NisenholzGOLDFINCH OF HOME — ONLY THEIRS FED ON INDIAN GRASS — NO THISTLES!  (Internet)

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Eastern Phoebe w. nest material from Internet KK_APA_2011_19948_157974_AlbertoLopezEASTERN PHOEBE WITH NEST MATERIAL – OURS SLAM-DUNKED A GREEN GRASSHOPPER!      (Internet Image)

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Turks Cap Lily Seaside Goldenrod Bombay Hook July

EXCEEDING RARE TURK’S CAP LILY BLOOMS WITH SEASIDE GOLDENROD

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Perched Bombay Hook July 2017

PERCHED — EGRET RIGHT AT HOME AT ‘THE HOOK’

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Vultures Gather Bombay Hook July

AN OMINOSITY OF VULTURES AT ‘THE HOOK’

Mary and I ignored her GPS most of the way, choosing 295 South, to the end of our New Jersey, to zoom over the Delaware Memorial Bridge.  She’s named her navigator “Jeeves.”  His commanding voice directed us on Route 1 South and 13 South in various combinations.  Bombay Hook is near Smyrna, below historic New Castle.  Whitehall Neck Road took us into the Refuge.

At this point, Jeeves complained, “RECALCULATING”.  We had a good laugh, as I mused, “Mary, we have to remember, butlers don’t spend a lot of time in wildlife refuges.”

We couldn’t believe the swiftness of the ride, nor the mostly green beauty on 295 and the preponderance of 1 and 13.  (Admittedly, Delaware’s fringes leading to the bridge are exercises in tackiness, –but briefly.)  At one point we drove through blue-green just-tasseled corn on both sides of the road — “high as an elephant’s eye”.

I’ll do another blog on New Castle for our (very late) lunch — in Jessop’s pub, whose building is 300 years old.  I was served Thomas Jefferson Ale in a stone mug, and a sumptuous Colonial crab pot pie…, by a ‘serving wench’ in the garb of the era.  In the church next door, Lafayette had given the bride away…

Thomas Jefferson Ale Jessop's Tavern New Castle Delaware 2017‘PARADISE ENOW’

 

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SANDY HOOK, Imperiled, Defended by Michele Byers, of NJ Conservation Foundation

View from Hawk Watch Platform, North Beach

Wild View from Hawk Watch Platform, North Beach, Sandy Hook

Tell the National Park Service to restore, not destroy, the maritime forest at Sandy Hook! Letters can be sent to the Office of the Superintendent, Gateway National Recreation Area, 210 New York Ave., Staten Island, N.Y., 10305.

Jeanette Hooban in quest of migrant warblers, Lifesaving Station of Sandy Hook in Background

Jeanette Hooban in quest of migrant warblers, Lifesaving Station of Sandy Hook in Background — A priceless segment of Sandy Hook’s Maritime Forest

NJWILDBEAUTY readers well know my passion for the wild in general, for New Jersey’s in particular, especially the Brigantine Wildlife Refute, beloved Island Beach (see NJWB on Island Beach in Nor’easter) and cherished Sandy Hook, also covered well in NJWB.)

The geniuses who are all aquiver to destroy our sacred NJ Wild coastline, want to turn parts of of the priceless Sandy Hook bird sanctuary over to buildings, often impossibly inflated into a term I personally despise, “Infrastructure.”

Michele Byers has the knowledge, experience and clout to fight these destroyers in the name of developers.  Do likewise, READERS.  

Comment on Michele’s blogs and write your congressmen and women.  

Sandy Hook is essential to birds — it is the Atlantic Flyway.  It’s required in spring and fall for migration, and other seasons for breeding and nesting, as in the so very imperiled piping plover.

Nothing mus happen to impinge upon any inch of Sandy Hook’s vital habitat.  Not now.  Not ever!

Determined Jeanette finds two female harriers doing last hunting over the grasses on the ocean side

Determined Jeanette finds two female harriers doing last hunting over the grasses on the ocean side

O yes, and by the way, the developers’ plans for oil ports and the like will very likely harm humans.

Somehow, even the fate of humans matters naught to those who would impinge upon our sanctuaries.

Note their clever warping or the English language, these destroyer/developers:  “resiliency project.”

Especially note that the machines are more important than birds, habitat or humans.

Read Michele, and line up behind her!

Carolyn

Last Light, Early November

Last Light, Early November, Pristine Reaches of Sandy Hook

By Michele S. Byers, Executive Director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation

It’s been two years since Superstorm Sandy. Up and down the coast, ceremonies marked the state’s progress in rebuilding homes, businesses and infrastructure destroyed by Sandy – and increasing our capacity to weather future storms.

But one ill-advised proposal in particular is being advanced in the name of “resiliency.” The National Park Service’s Sandy Hook Unit proposes to build a large maintenance facility in the midst of a heavily wooded section of Gateway National Recreation Area on Sandy Hook.

The National Park Service is calling it a “resiliency” project, since it would move vehicles and equipment to higher ground and reduce the risk of their being damaged in future floods. But the wooded site is the worst possible location!

The six-mile-long Sandy Hook peninsula is a critical stop along the Atlantic Flyway for millions of migrating birds. In addition to tidal wetlands and dune habitats, it contains significant maritime forest, characterized by fruiting trees and bushes like American holly, hackberry, black gum, bayberry, sassafras, beach plum, red cedar, serviceberry, poison ivy and Virginia creeper.

(Yes, READERS, Poison Ivy — high in fats essential for the multi-thousand-mile migratory journeys of everything from the smallest warbler to the most menacing, seemingly formidable raptor.  Bayberry, ditto.  Next step after Sandy Hook, –assuming the developer-destroyers have appropriated all the natural species that feed those avian voyagers–, is Wall Street and Manhattan.  Not a lot of nourishment there. cfe)

Almost all of New Jersey’s maritime forests have been wiped out by development, leaving only a few places for migrating woodland birds to rest and refuel. You can count these forests on one hand – Sandy Hook, Island Beach State Park, Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, and western Cape May.

Just as New Jersey’s beaches are filled to capacity by humans on hot summer days, these scarce maritime forests are filled to capacity as birds hopscotch along the coastline during their spring and fall migrations.

Migrating birds travel thousands of miles from their wintering grounds in the south to their summer breeding grounds in the north, and back again, using the Atlantic coast as their map. Insects, spiders and especially fruits growing in maritime forests are essential to their ability to survive the rigors of migration.

There’s already not enough forest habitat to support the birds during their migration,” says Dr. Emile DeVito, New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s staff biologist. “If you take away more maritime forest, birds will die – it’s as simple as that. There’s no substitute for this forest; there’s no other place for them to go.”

Birders have counted 348 bird species at Sandy Hook. About 100 species are forest birds, and some are in serious decline. Among the rare woodland birds that have been spotted at Sandy Hook are golden-winged warblers, Bicknell’s thrushes and saw-whet owls.

When you think about it, the maritime forest at Sandy Hook was actually created by birds to supply their exact needs, DeVito pointed out. “It’s a spit of sand in the ocean, and virtually every woody forest plant arrived there as seeds dispersed by bird droppings,” he said.

Although the area of Sandy Hook being eyed for a maintenance facility contains a few derelict buildings, it is dominated by forests of fruiting trees, vines and shrubs. Rather than looking to destroy this Garden of Eden for migrating birds, the National Park Service should tear down the abandoned buildings and plant more trees to re-create an unbroken forest. This would also make the forest more resilient to future storms.

Protecting and restoring Sandy Hook’s maritime forest should be a National Park Service priority, given its mission: “The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.”

Yes, there’s a need protect trucks and equipment. But the National Park Service can and should find an alternative location outside the maritime forest in one of the many derelict sites on Sandy Hook or on nearby high ground in Monmouth County.

The National Park Service is now preparing an environmental assessment that should be released in the spring. Let’s hope that those in charge realize the irreplaceable value of Sandy Hook’s maritime forest, for both wildlife habitat and coastal resiliency. Because of Sandy Hook’s geography, a single tree in its forest is a hundred times more important to birds – if not a thousand! – than an identical tree in the middle of Pennsylvania.

Tell the National Park Service to restore, not destroy, the maritime forest at Sandy Hook! Letters can be sent to the Office of the Superintendent, Gateway National Recreation Area, 210 New York Ave., Staten Island, N.Y., 10305.

And to learn more about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org.

ISLAND BEACH AUTUMN IMAGES

Swirling Swallows Island Beach Sept 2014

And the Skies Darkened with Swallows As we Entered Island Beach

September 2014

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Brooding Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sept2014

Going Toward Barnegat Bay as Rain Ended, Still Spocking Sands

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On the Way to the Bay Island Beach Sept 2014

Natural Habitat, Reed’s Road, En Route to Bay

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Heavy Weather Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sept 2014

Looking Toward Barnegat Light, Barnegat Bay

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First Blue Sky Island Beach Sept 15 2014

First Blue Skies

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Castaway Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sep 2014

Flotsam or Jetsam, Bayside

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Foam and Dead Cormorant Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sept 2014

Foam Wreathes Dead Cormorant, Bayside

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Bayberry Ripe for the Migrants Island Beach Sept 2014

Ripe Bayberry Awaits Migrant Birds

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Keep Off the Dunes Island Beach Atlantic Sice Sept 2014

Keep Off the Dunes, Atlantic Side

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No Swimming Island Beach Sept 2014

NO SWIMMING!

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Restored Boardwalk Island Beach Sept 2014

Restored Boardwalk After Sandy’s 11 Feet of Saltwater Covered Island Beach

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Compass Plant Atlantic Side Sand Fox Tracks Raindrop9s Island Beach Sept 2014

Compass Grass and Fox Tracks, Atlantic Side

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Island Beach Natural Perfection Sept 2014

Dune Perfection and Protection, Autumn

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Rail Territory Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sept 2014

Where the Rail Railed, en route to Barnegat Bay

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Spizzle Creek Bird Blind Island Beach Sept 2014

Spizzle Creek Bird Blind, Bayside

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Sept Marsh Grass through Spizzle Creek Bird Blind Aperture  Island Beach  2014

From Bird Blind – Site of Egrets, Osprey,

Yellow-Crowned Night Herons

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Immature Yellow-Crowned Night Heron Island Beach Barnegat Bay Sept 2014

Distant Yellow-Crowned Night Heron near Spizzle Creek

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Perfection Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sept 2014

Perfection from Bird Blind

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Northwest Wind Primary Dune Island Beach Sept 2014

Northwest  Wind — Good for Migrant Birds

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Beside the Primary Dune, Island Beach Sept2014

Atlantic Side

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Poison Ivy Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sept 2014

Poison Ivy Glory, Good for Migrants

Freshwater Wetlands, Oceanside

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Two Paths Diverged Island Beach Sept 2014

Two Paths Diverged… on an Autumn Day

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Woodbine Atlantic Sand Raindrops and Sun Island Beach Sept 2014

Woodbine and Sugar Sand

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Survivors  Primary Dune Grasses Atlantic Ocaen Island Beach Sept 2014

Survivors, Island Beach

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ISLAND BEACH — THE TRUE “JERSEY STRONG”

BECAUSE IT’S NATURAL!