Archive for the ‘Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh’ Category
Short-Eared Owl, Winter, Pole Farm by Brenda Jones
Locals know that U.S. 1 [Business] Newspaper miraculously turns itself over to creativity for two weeks of every summer. Rich Rein calls it “The Fiction Issue,” but it is richly studded with poetry.
To their publication party, everyone is invited (www.princetoninfo.com); all who submitted are encouraged to attend; all writers present are introduced, but only the poets read.
Each year, I reach out to D&R Greenway’s Poets of Preservation, urging them to submit. One never EVER knows if one’s work will appear. But, to my delight, standing in Lucy’s Ravioli Kitchen waiting to pay for scrumptious homemade pasta on Friday, I discovered that the U.S. 1 Fiction Issue editors had indeed selected my poem, “Owl Pellets”, for inclusion in this summer’s issue.
Pick up a (free) copy of this lively publication, over the next few weeks. I find mine, usually, at Main Street Cafe in Kingston, or the little coffee shop next to the Post Office of Rocky Hill. I keep a copy to savor over the weeks ahead, and bring some home to send to family and friends in other states.
It’s pretty rare that a business publication honors pure creativity. i’ve been grateful to Rich Rein, since he founded this newspaper about which “they said it couldn’t be done”, decades ago. For many years, I wrote for them on nature, history, travel and poetry, especially in and of New Jersey.
Here is “Owl Pellets,” written about the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh, which I so cherish, down where all those pylons otherwise support superhighways such as Route 1, 295, and tracks for the spiffy River Line Train.
What intrigues me about this work is that it was written either the day of my hip operation or the day after, at what used to be Princeton Medical Center. A lonnnnngggg way from a marsh, let alone Indians…
all along the downed log
in Trenton’s old marsh
I mean really old
as in ten thousand years of
Lenni Lenape presence
a coalescence of tribes
after the long months
begun by hunger’s moon
the rising of
new pickerel weed
arrayed along greening banks
from inland hunting lives
to sea gathering
but first, this time together
in the Marsh
I descend to the log
studying, not touching
pierced silvery ovals
of bone / feather / fur
they seem arranged
by men with lithe
kneeling in loin cloths
of old deerskin
and new beads
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
(written in hospital – November, 2011)
U.S. 1 Newspaper Summer Fiction Issue, 2012
Filed Under (Adventure, Amphibians, Animals of the Wild, Birding, Brenda Jones, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Preservation) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 13-05-2012
Baltimore Oriole with Fishing Line for Nest Brenda Jones
Most people don’t even know there IS a Marsh in the middle of Trenton (and Bordentown and Hamilton). Let alone the northernmost freshwater tidal wetland, which surges and empties in synch with the tides of the ocean, as amplified by the nearby Delaware River. Let alone that ‘The Marsh’ is Oriole Central this May!
Most people don’t know that the Marsh has mattered to the Lenni Lenapes for at least 10,00 years, that artifacts proving this have been found there over the centuries. That the Lenapes at first didn’t live there, but connected with each other and other tribes in spring, in autumn, en route to or from hunting lives to gathering times at the Shore. That Route #195, which noisily curves above and through the Marsh, began all those centuries ago as the Indians’ footpath to ocean gathering time.
Baltimore Oriole, Full Breeding Plumage - Brenda Jones
For sure, what most people don’t know is that, if you’re in love with orioles, as well as other rarities among our NJ birds, go to the Marsh right NOW! The earlier in the day the better, though late light is good, too. Go with anyone brought there to lead tours for the Friends for the Marsh (www.marsh-friends.org), such as Charles and Mary Leck, Lou Beck and John Marin, among others. Orioles will welcome you immediately, perhaps even before the mute swans glide over to enchant you. Not only Baltimore orioles, but also orchard orioles.
Baltimore Oriole in All His Glory Brenda Jones
If you’re with Charlie, Mary, Lou and John, you’ll be informed that the vaguely chartreuse oriole is a first-year orchard oriole. You may know, from other Marsh trips, –when Orchards and Baltimores conveniently perched on the same empty branch so that you could compare and contrast, as in English class–, that Orchard example will, next year, be the hue of a toasty chestnut.
Spring Lake was named by the Lenni Lenapes, because spring-fed. It may well have been formed by the beavers, who still generously inhabit watery stretches, in what Charlie calls, “Beaver Condominiums”
Beaver Close-Up, from D&R Canal in Princeton — Brenda Jones
There’s a trail map at entry of what is also called Roebling Park. You can hike over a small bridge (see beaver dam, which is different from lodge, to your right) into woods with well blazed trails. And/or turn left at the lake and circle it very slowly, binoculars on everything from posts to vines to tulip trees (Indians carefully burn-hollowed these trunks for canoes) to towering cottonwoods to shrubby arrow-wood viburnum (Indians used this wood for arrows) to dead trees, otherwise known as snags, perfect perching posts for avian visitors and nesters.
Great Blue Heron Brenda Jones
This morning, starting at 8 a.m., an enthusiastic group decided that birding is more important than Mothers’ Day. Birding-by-ear was the name of the game from the start. I’ll try to remember what was seen and heard, so you can pretend you were with us.
To get there yourself, take Route 1 South to South Broad Street Exit at Arena; when exit T’s, that’s South Broad/206 South, there by the River Line Train holding pen. Left is south onto Broad, past Lalor. Turn right at the light (Sewell) after the two green church steeples. Drive through tiny neighborhood until Sewell T’s at the Marsh. Turn left/down and park next to the lake. Miracles of peace, beauty and birding await.
Red-Winged Blackbird in Full Breeding Plumage — Brenda Jones
Mute swans; orchard oriole; red-winged blackbirds; yellow warblers; common yellowthroats; blue-grey gnatcatchers; solitary sandpiper (only there were 2 of these (really rare creatures); great blue heron; mallard pair; beaver lodge; beaver dam; Carolina chickadee with insect in mouth, waiting for us to pass so it could pop into its nest in post hidden by vines to feed young.
Osprey At (Much Heftier) Nest — Brenda Jones
Osprey on scrungy nest on top of hideous power tower, male arriving with outsized nest material, matrimony on his mind. Flock of cedar waxwings, conveniently in emptily dead tree. Warbling vireos everywhere, proving their name.
Cedar Waxwing — Brenda Jones
Red Admiral butterflies, the lepidopteral stars of Spring 2012, first ON parking lot, where everyone could get ‘a good look’ at it, resting mid-flight on the gravel. The next red admiral was on a tree that had been graffitied — on a large 0 after a peace sign. Those with cameras were ecstatic. Those without will never forget those juxtapositions. At the shore, such as Cape May and ‘The Brigantine’ about which I write so often, people recently saw 40,000 migrant red admirals. Warning — they’re not red - they’re orange — but that’s pretty much the norm in nature nomenclature. Remember how orange the redstart is, and to me the red knot is terra cotta…
American Redstart by Brenda Jones — If you ask ME, it’s orange!
We saw a toad upon whose species — the experts could not agree. It was right in the clover by the lake, and still as a stone. Henslow’s? American? I didn’t hear the outcome, because I was on the trail of overhead orioles, irresistibly posing in the full sun we weren’t supposed to have.
Now, answer me. Would you believe a saga like this took place in Trenton. Does all day every day, depending upon the season. Several times, those of us who are riveted by bouquet de fox were stopped in our tracks by fox pungency.
I didn’t take my camera - but Brenda Jones, of course, has pictures of some of our species. I’ll put them in for you.
Put yourSELVES into the Marsh.
And support it, through Friends for the Marsh and D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work — who preserved and maintain those 1200 crucially moist acres, buffering temperature and drought/flood conditions, and serving as nursery and migrant corridor for species beyond counting.
Although botanist Mary Leck and ornithologist, Charlie Leck, have, indeed counted and you can find the species count for plants, animals, amphibians (fish?), and, of course, birds on www.marsh-friends.org.
Never forget that www.drgreenway.org keeps green New Jersey green
D&R Canal Above Mapleton Aqueduct by Brenda Jones
Where D&R Greenway Began its Preservation Miracles…
Filed Under (Activism, Amphibians, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Edward Abbey, Farm Markets, Forests, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Henry David Thoreau, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, Literature, Local Food, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, Nature Writing, New Jersey, Preservation, Sourland Mountains, The Seasons, Trees, Wildflowers, books, habitat, native species, protection, rivers, wild, wildness) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 04-03-2012
“…unreconstructed and necessary wildness…” Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire
Enraged Osprey of Carnegie Lake, Brenda Jones
Michael Pollan in general, and his Botany of Desire, in particular, is one of those authors everyone means to read. I hear protestations of intention all the time, always tinged with a kind of wistfulness. Recently, Public Television gave people a visual taste of this man’s paradigm. For me, the visual alone never suffices.
I’ll go so far as to insist that Pollan is an author to re-read. His subject matter is so unexpected (apples and ‘cyder’, marijuana, tulips and potatoes) and his thinking so original. It’s worth taking Pollan in hand, even if you don’t give a fig about nature. Just for the privilege of journeying with him.
Fierce Flight (Great Blue Heron), Brenda Jones
And savoring his pithy phrases, such as “Plants are the true alchemists.” His lament that now, “It is as though nature is something that happens outside,… as if we are gazing at nature across a gulf.” As he sets out in a canoe in quest of Johnny Appleseed’s seminal (couldn’t resist) journeys, Pollan relishes trusting in the river to take him wherever he wants to go.
WILD DELAWARE RIVER, Brenda Jones
In my case, re-reading The Botany of Desire reveals a delicious (pun intended) emphasis upon the WILD.
Trenton’s Apple Bounty, cfe
People can and do tease me for prating of the WILD in New Jersey. In the first segment of The Botany of Desire, Pollan takes an even more unlikely tack — seeking the wild, as did Thoreau, through apples. One of his theses is that Appleseed’s success came because he was not peddling mere fruit, but ‘cyder’ to the pioneers.
West Windsor’s Apple Bounty — cfe
Michael sets the tone with phrases such as “A handful of wild apples came with me” (on his Johnny-Appleseed-Quest.) He insists that “sowers of wild seeds are to be prized.”
Cedar Ridge Preserve Meadow, cfe
Cedar Ridge Wild Mushrooms — cfe
Pollan laments that “we live in a world where the wild places where wild plants live are dwindling.” You’ve heard this line from me in ‘posts’ beyond counting, coupled with urgings to support your local land trusts, especially D&R Greenway, to preserve New Jersey’s wild remnants and to plant New Jersey Natives wherever we can.
Baldpate View, Ted Stiles Preserve, Brenda Jones
Let Michael define “the best of all possible worlds”: “WE’D BE PRESERVING THE WILD PLACES THEMSELVES.”
The next best possible world: “ONE THAT PRESERVES THE QUALITY OF WILDNESS ITSELF.”
Female Harrier Aloft, Pole Farm, Brenda Jones
Male Harrier, “The Grey Ghost”, in ice at Pole Farm — Brenda Jones
The generating thesis of NJ WILD is that the wild exists right in our own back yards:
Wild erupts with the whiff of fox along mown paths of The Griggstown Grasslands. This lovely lofty set of trails, with its compelling Sourlands and Watchung views, awaits but a mile or two north of me on Canal Road, before/beside Griggstown’s Causeway.
Fox Alert, Griggstown Grasslands, Brenda Jones
The wild surprised me last week In burgeonings of wildflowers, deep in the duff of the forest floor, on Bull’s Island in the Delaware. These petite fleurs lifted up the blinding waxy yellow of buttercups. 8 to 10 petals rayed out from yellow centers. These premature spring heralds were nevertheless inviting pollinators. On my hike, they seemed like pieces of eight flung onto the leaf-strewn forest floor.
Why call a delicate plant WILD? Because they arrived there on their own, blooming despite winter on the calendar, pushing through flood detritus that resembled the graphite dust of Thoreau’s pencils. A key quality of the wild is RESILIENCE — New Jersey specialty!
Sourland Mountain Rocks and Water, Brenda Jones
WILD in New Jersey, for me, requires Lenni Lenapes. The land was tended by these peaceful tribes, at least 10,000 years ago. Their vanished presence is palpable on many of my hikes, most especially among Sourlands boulders. Also on trails near Mountain Lakes House, and at Ringing Rocks just across Delaware at Upper Black Eddy. In each case, majestic boulders that render Stonehenge puny rest exactly where they were revealed by water wind and time, before time. The huge stones are frequently encountered in a massive ring. I FEEL Indian councils there, planning tribal actions for the season about to begin. Seasons which, for Lenni Lenapes, triggered travel either to or from hunting to gathering.
Mink at Play, Brenda Jones
In the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh, the Lenapes convened with selected other tribes, before leaving central Jersey hunting grounds for Shore gatherings. This journey and the seasonal constellation of other indigenous peoples was triggered by natural phenomena. Spring’s took place when pickerel weed pierced still waters like arrows.
New Jersey’s Apple Bounty, cfe
Michael Pollan plants a wild tree in his own home garden. His hope - “that such a tree will bear witness to unreconstructed and necessary wildness.”
What can you do about wildness right now, as elusive winter gives way to spring?
Go in search of it.
Buy only native NJ species for your gardens.
Read Michael Pollan
well, you know….
REMEMBER, WILD IS ALL ABOUT HABITAT!
Rare Box Turtle, Camouflaged in Natural Habitat - Cedar Ridge cfe
Generously support D&R Greenway and other Land Trusts, preserving New Jersey’s wild wherever it exist.
Filed Under (Animals of the Wild, Brenda Jones, Brigantine Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, D&R Canal & Towpath, Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, NJ WILD, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Preservation, South Jersey, protection, raptors) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 26-02-2012
Summer’s Great Egret at ‘The Brig’ - viewed in February 2012 cfe
Your NJ WILD ‘reporter’ proved her passion for the wild yesterday. A birding friend and I rode to the Brigantine Wildlife Refuge in the face of winds in the 40-50-mph range. We knew birds wouldn’t be ‘up’ in such gusts and gales. However, we could find snow geese, no matter what - and we’d both read the hotlines reporting ten tundra swans a-swimming…
There was only supposed to be 10% chance of precipitation. En route, we drove through snow enough to require wipers. Inky skies to the west could have presaged tornadoes or hurricane. If you know birders, you know that we continued.
There may be nothing more thrilling then Pine Roads in snowfall. The great privilege is being the only car on those stunning routes — #532 out of Tabernacle, #563 down through Chatsworth…
As though the pines themselves were holding up branches to say “Enough,” we were suddenly treated to dazzle-light through generosities of crisp green needles. Light made its way even through oak leaves the hue of caramel. Sacred sugar sand sifted and drifted along the sides of every roadway, (except that brief interruption of the GSP), so that our journey truly became destination.
Brig Vistas in Summer cfe
Until, that is, we crossed the first bridge into the Brig. Then the refuge and its creatures took center stage.
(This haven is the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge - named for a Republican who saved major swathes of forest and water in the southern and eastern reaches of our beleaguered state.)
In waters at entry four ring-necked ducks floated, then flew — more vivid than we had realized. For the first time, we reconsidered our duck hierarchy of beauty. For a few hours, yesterday, wood ducks took second place.
Wood Duck Splendor, Brenda Jones
Barely three car-lengths onto the Gull Pond Road, we were stopped in our tracks. In a pine that holds summer’s black-crowned night herons, a pale form rearranged itself into a great blue heron. It did not look happy in those winds that caused even the Prius to shudder. My friend’s Swarovskis soon found another great blue form, tucked deep into a pine to our left. When my far lesser binoculars could find it, shadow rendered this heron even more blue. Something whizzed over our windshield - paper-clip legs out behind revealing a third great blue. I don’t remember now how the fourth one materialized, but we were in a near superfluity of herons.
Miserable Heron in Snow, Millstone River, Brenda Jones
I haven’t seen many around here in Princeton this winter– but Anne Zeman and I had been ‘given’ four herons here January 2. That day, the fab four had been chased from piney haven by a feisty young fox. No fox yesterday. However, of all things, a great egret stood proudly among all the blues, whiter than the snow that had surrounded us an hour earlier. February is not egret time!
Summer’s Great Egret, Brenda Jones
Buffeted Heron, Spring 2011, Brenda Jones
We pulled ourselves away from these wonders, down to the gull tower. There was no climbing in gusts, which my Chicago sister reports soared to 61 mph not far north of us. My friend and I could barely open the car doors against this form of wildness. But it was thrilling to be out in it. Earlier, at the Visitor Center, this new hip and I had to jog against wind so strong it felt as though I could lean on it like a mattress.
But Mary had to get her scope on those tundra swans. On another body of water, for comparison’s sake, we were given a pair of mute swans, orange beaks blinding in windswept light. These two are paired, as are the ones in our Marsh of Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown. But the tundras floated as though on a bathtub, as one, all in a row. Their beaks were purest black and spade-like. Individually and collectively, the tunderas remained elegant and serene upon wind-pleated waters, although not so commanding as nearby mute swans. In the foreground, a flotilla of coots enhanced the elegance quotient, in velvety formal attire, white beaks gleaming.
Coot in Millstone, Brenda Jones
I popped back into the car to escape the winds, as Mary focused her scope on the twenty tundras.
Suddenly, a large flat-winged bird was coming straight at me. Its image filled the entire car window. It was so close and so large, I was only aware of shape, and its harrier-like motion over water (not a typical place for the harrier). Mary confirmed that this was no harrier. Rather the American bald eagle. Virtually eye-to-eye, he and I.
Eagle Diving For Thanksgiving Dinner, Lake Carnegie - Brenda Jones
Only he seemed unfazed by those winds. For long moments, he stayed virtually motionless, in the hover position we know so well in kingfisher and hummingbird. But this hovering, especially when he lowered his landing gear, seemed of far greater duration.
Our Nation’s Symbol, Brenda Jones
Then the eagle landed (sorry about that) in a short bright green shrub. Like a film star of my parents’ day, he studiously gave us his best profile. There is no carat measurement sufficient to measure, let alone honor, such gold. Over and over he posed as the Great Seal of the United States.
Then the eagle leapt into air, as if to say “WHAT wind?”. He returned to harrier-mode over grasses, and abruptly ’stooped’. Meaning, he’d found prey. Whatever it was (likely rabbit), must have been hugely satisfying, for we were never to see ‘our’ eagle rise from its pink-gold wildly rippling dining room.
As Mary reluctantly drove on, we each marveled: “This whole trip was worth it for the eagle scenes alone!”
Red-Tailed Hawk along D&R Canal, Brenda Jones
Our next gift was a red-tail in a tree, head turned attentively toward where there had been an eagle. I suddenly realized that a cluster of American crows had flown abruptly past, right before I’d come eye-to-eye with an eagle. Crows are known to mob this raptor. These crows were in pure flight mode in every sense of that phrase.
The stars of the day, however, glory-wise, were Northern pintails. That chic sharp angle at the neck is really thin. But in dazzle-light, we found their cravats nearly blinding. The pintails were even beautiful upside-down. They were everywhere along the impoundments. Counting was out of the question.
Isolate images stand out even now - the great black-backed gull, nicknamed, ‘The Minister’, feasting on a live crab, morsel by morsel. The crab writhing.
Sudden wind-driven incoming tide wrinkling the saltwater until it seemed furiously crumpled foil.
Brooding brackish impoundments to our left resembling lava, even to blue-black hues beneath the sunglinted waves.
In all that turbulent expanse, shovelers stood out as still points. Vibrant rust-to-orange, blinding white and darkest forest green, there is no more handsome fellow than drake shovelers, — handsome as opposed to elegant, like the pintails, who looked dressed for an embassy ball. Shovelers, with their almost comical spade beaks, usually are nervously working the bottoms of runnels at low tide, scooping up nourishment for all they are worth.
We noticed that Canada geese are still in flocks, not romantically paired (as were the mute swans).
Mute Swan in the Stony Brook, Brenda Jones
Miracles continued to appear. More buffleheads than we could count, in open water between the Brig and Tuckerton. Over and over, the little black and white bobbers were rendered nearly invisible by tumultuous waves.
Dapper Bufflehead, Princeton, Brenda Jones
There’s no such thing as enough buffleheads, so Mary and I continued, despite the gale, to the ineptly titled “Experimental Pond.” If ever you’re going to find irresistible diving ducks, it’s there. I went into jogging mode anew, after having struggled to open the car door against Nature herself. All that I found were four Canada geese, so I jogged back again - exultant that this new femur knows how to do that.
Mary was outside the car, in the face of all that wind, calling out, ‘Eagle, eagle!” Her wondrous optics had found our original monarch of a raptor high overhead, no more than a dot above. We stood there until our faces were well sun-and-wind-burned, watching him play the wind. Talk about mastery.
American Bald Eagle, Over Carnegie Lake, Brenda Jones
On the way home, we both wondered why everyone isn’t a birder. To think that anyone could experience such a treasure hunt, a mere 80-or-so miles south and east of Princeton, anytime he or she wants. All you have to do is take the Pineroads south, and live in a state that knows about preservation.
Support your local land trust, wherever you are. Mine, of course, is D&R Greenway. I and my new hip return there in the morning, for the first time since November 9 surgery, to take up my mission newly. It’s never BEEN more URGENT!
Filed Under (Adventure, Agriculture, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Lenni Lenapes, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, New Jersey, Preservation, Sourland Mountains) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 17-02-2012
Mute Swan, Brenda Jones
NJ WILD readers know me pretty well by now, all 1600 page-views of you per week. You know I have NO patience with developers, under any name. That New Jersey is my haven, and I’ll pay any price, bear any burden to bring her glories to the fore, well beyond our (three - unique) shores! That preservation is the name of the game, not only in our state. That local sustainable real food from real nearby farmers is the way to health and life as a state and as individuals. And so forth.
What you may not realize is that winter has become my favorite season. Partly because winter finally reveals the intense abstract beauty of New Jersey’s trees. Partly for winter’s subtleties — it’s a real challenge to find life and color in this season, which only renders nature’s vibrancy-for-all-seasons all the more spectacular.
I particularly cherish winter in New Jersey preserves. Rabbit tracks leading me a merry chase in new-fallen snow in Plainsboro Preserve. Moss blinding as patches of green sequins alongside my favorite Sourland Mountain Trail, off Greenwood Avenue, even in January. Bluebirds swirling around my head and shoulders on the grassy northern reaches of Griggstown Grasslands last Monday. In fact, at Plainsboro and Griggstown Grasslands, my friend and I could hardly hear ourselves whisper “bluebird!” over their merry insistent chattering song.
Bluebird, Brenda Jones
Now, as new hip enters its 13th week of miraculous healing, I’ve returned to the Marsh, as in Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown. This time, I could walk on my own, with the trekking poles - not lean on my long-suffering, never-complaining friend’s right arm. This time, I could walk not only one edge of Spring Lake (named by the Lenni Lenapes for the spring which formed it), but circumnavigate the lake. We were out so long and mesmerized by so many signs of winter life, that we returned actually sunburnt. In February.
(This warmth, while easing my recovery, never ceases to alarm me for the sake of glaciers, polar bears and corals, among other natural phenomena. If it’s twenty or so degrees warmer than usual now, how is it going to be around here in August?)
Even so, I can’t pretend I am not relishing benevolent days in the woods.
Spring Lake was literally awash in winter gifts. Regal mute swans seemed to pose in a perfection of light, as we began to hit our stride. A lone gull floated like a bathtub toy, accented by irresistible coots, whose tiny white beaks never seem large enough to capture, let alone gulp aquatic foods. An elusive raft of ducks had the elegance and elusive ways of ring-necks. Between their fast-swimming-away shyness and the bird books’ admitting “ring nearly impossible to see”, we could not confirm that guess. Home again, Sibleys in hand, it’s very likely we were granted ring-necked ducks, but we shall never know.
Wood Duck, Brenda Jones
Color accents impossible to believe among the almost funereal array of coots were the glowing wood ducks. Kindly men of the Marsh, Clyde Quin and Warren Liebensperger, rigorously tend to wood duck and bluebird nests each year, –raising the boxes, tallying hatchlings, cleaning them when breeding is over, and putting them back in place in time for boxes to make up for a serious deficit of sturdy hollow old tree trunks. I don’t know whether ‘our’ Picasso-esque wood ducks are Clyde’s and Warren’s summer residents, or simply passing through. It doesn’t really matter. The wonder is the privilege of “woodies”, right in the middle of Trenton, on a winter’s day.
Nuthatch with Seed, Brenda Jones
We were mightily enlivened, not only by the birds of Spring Lake. Our tangly walk was also studded with tinier avian creatures among the underbrush. Feisty nuthatches bopped down fattest lake-side trunks. A fugitive white-throated sparrow fed right alongside us as though it encountered humans every day of the year.
White-Throated Sparrow, Brenda Jones
The day’s auditory miracle was the whuff whuff whuff of air in swan wings, as pair after pair arrowed over us. My friend, originally from Britain, had never heard this rarity. We were blessed with it by more pairs than we could count, the entire time we circled that lake.
At the rim of other water, an almost blue jay, though uncharacteristically silent, puzzled for awhile. Until it took off down, not up, uttering that kingfisher rattle that never ceases to stop me in my tracks. Kayaking on the canal, when you hear that tattoo, look toward the sound, then down, not up. For kingfishers fly toward water, their main food source. The females of this species are the more colorful.
Belted Kingfisher in Flight, Brenda Jones
My energy was high, my new hip cooperative. We almost skipped over the little bridge and into the Marsh woods itself. Here and there, we’d go off-trail, scuffing through leaves. These feet, all to recently, all too accustomed to hospital corridors, managed roots and leaves and stones and mosses, until a certain measure of caution intruded, saying, probably enough for today.
Never enough for my spirit.
But it will have to do.
And meanwhile, our Marsh proved to me anew, how very much life there is in winter.
We could not have taken that walk, and those native species could not have safely swum and fed in that Marsh, had not D&R Greenway Land Trust and Friends for the Marsh done all in their power ‘then and now’ to preserve and provide stewardship for this critical freshwater tidal wetland.
Filed Under (Adventure, Birds, Brenda Jones, Brigantine Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, D&R Canal & Towpath, Delaware River, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Migratory Flocks, NJ WILD, Pennsylvania, Pine Barrens, trails) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 30-01-2012
January’s Short-Eared Owl, Pole Farm, off Cold Soil Road - Brenda Jones
When one is firmly instructed, regarding a cane, “Don’t leave home without it,” how can one access the wild?
When I was still in post-op mode, ‘extending the surgical leg’ and ‘building core strength’ became the heart of the matter of my odd life.
It occurs to me that others, without even having met the knife, may hesitate to set out on New Jersey Trails. Even though I’ve been raving about them all these years, in NJ WILD and in print; even though you can go onto NJ TRAILS.org and discover super hiking spots in most counties in our state.
If you’re a beginner, or a somewhat reluctant returner to trails, where might you start? Where might there be gifts for you, without the daunting? If weight loss is mandated, and diet isn’t enough, where might you slim and strengthen, while being delighted by New Jersey Nature?
I’ve decided to list nearby trails that have turned me back into a walker, even though trails that climb are still verboten. I’m setting out with prescribed cane and friend’s arm. I have now been given official permission to set out alone, with my two trekking poles for balance and trip-protection. None of these is far from Princeton, as you well know.
Bluebird in Full Cry, Brenda Jones
All hold gifts. Give them a whirl. I’ll see you out there!
My first trail adventure was the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh. (www.marsh-friends.org). There’s a flat road that circles Spring Lake, formed by a spring even before the land became sacred to Lenni Lenapes. As those who read NJ WILD know, even though I could barely make 1/4 the lake road on that first forasy, we were greeted by a raft of the tiny white-billed coots on the lake; one stately swan; an unidentifiable flock of migrant birds against the lowering light; then a descent of silent geese into jungley waters to our right. We barely made it in and out before sundown that time. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
Today, that friend and I are heading back to the Marsh to do the entire lake road. Those who can cross over the bridge into wooded areas of the Marsh are in for treats beyond counting. Even with its watery name, the trails are dry and waterproof footwear is not essential. In the Marsh in all seasons, I have found owls in the daytime, fox dens, and owl pellets. Directions are on the Friends for the Marsh web-site.
Fox Listening for Vole, Pole Farm, Brenda Jones
My second trail excursion was the road alongside the quarry that is now a lake at Plainsboro Preserve. It’s a broad flat expanse, with a sacred beechwood on the left and a shimmer of water hiding the former industrial might of this site. In winter, rare ducks stud the lake surface. Inside the beechwood, the temperature is ten degrees warmer in winter, cooler in summer — because of the microclimate. I only ventured into the beechwood this time, because that trail is rough underfoot for ‘the surgical leg’. In season, probably June, the beechwood hides exquisite secret plants, the frail white Indian pipe, and the ruddy almost invisible beech drops. On our road, my friend and I were surrounded by bluebirds, like the house-cleaning scene in Snow White in my childhood. We both yearn to return for bluebird blessings.
Numbers never matter to me - so I don’t know which treks were the footbridge over the Delaware River, from Bull’s Island to the Black Bass Inn and back. That luminous, windswept stretch was the site of final hikes with the leg that very nearly refused to work. I have now accomplished it twice and merrily, in full sun and exuberant wind, above the river I fought so hard to save in the 1980’s from the dread and all-conquering PUMP. There is a fellowship of the footbridge that is a joy in any season. Taking others inside the Black Bass to encounter the real original zinc bar from Maxim’s is a thrill for all my francophile friends. The food is delightful and the riverside setting cannot be topped.
One could even push someone in a wheelchair along the footbridge. It’s necessary to enter on the Jersey side, usually — few parking places in PA. They don’t cherish their towpath and canal as we do… There’s plentiful parking at Bull’s Island, and many (rockier, rootier, not yet for me) trails which are a joy, especially in spring, when I have encountered trees on the Island with more warblers than leaves.
The Sourlands is full of trails, again to be found via NJ TRAILS.org. I have twice now been privileged to hike the one off Greenwood Avenue, (north from Route 518, Hopewell, at Dana Building.) Once, that earthen road was used to carry out the boulders now preserved, to turn them into gravel to build New Jersey Roads. Now the roadway leads ever inward, among boulders that bring Stonehenge to mind. The overstory reveals beeches and tulip trees, the occasional shagbark hickory. The understory is brightened and softened by mosses and ferns. The air is alive with the sound of visible and invisible watercourses.
On Saturday, children’s voices rang ahead and behind us on the trail. I wanted to find Richard Louv and tell him, In the Sourland Mountain Preserver, there are children in the woods, and they are laughing and even splashing, in January!
Sourlands Trail in January, Brenda Jones
This coming weekend, I’ll try Griggstown Grasslands, newish preserve off Canal Road, where I live, just south of the Griggstown Causeway. We’ll drive up the steep entry and take that long earthen road, weather permitting. There are lovely grasslands there, tended for the sake of birds who require especially in nesting season. At Griggstown Grasslands, as we did on Saturday at the Sourland Mountains Preserve, I can pick up the welcome whiff of morning’s fox, who had obviously been assiduously marking his territory.
Foxy Close-Up, Brenda Jones
I’m not currently essaying the D&R Canal and Towpath, because of too many storms and floods - fearing too much unevenness underfoot(e).
No, I haven’t made it to the Pole Farm, yet. This has been officially designated an Important Birding Area, and holds wild treasures in all seasons. There’s a road, there, longer than all I’ve described here. The short-eared owls should be soaring at dusk, foxes ever-possible.
The moral of this post is, even tethered to a cane, the Princeton region is full of the wild. It’s easily accessed and will enrich you beyond measure.
And keep an eye on the skies around Carnegie Lake - ‘our’ American bald eagles should be courting and nest-building as we ’speak’.
American Bald Eagle, Millstone Aqueduct, Brenda Jones
How fortunate we are to live in WILD New Jersey…
Coot Couple, by Brenda Jones
Swan Lake — Swans of Spring Lake, by Brenda Jones
Brenda Jones’ Images of Recent Gifts of Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh
Picture a person who requires regular doses of nature. See that person’s right leg gradually stop working, because of a sudden inexplicable departure of cartilage. Watch her finally face the inevitable hip replacement, after which she must work with professionals to use that restored right leg, to cooperate with that new femur. Be aware that all she ever wants is to be, as the orthopedist promised, “Out on the trails and back in the kayak.”
It won’t surprise NJ WILD readers that this former and future hiker/kayaker longed throughout her incarceration in hospital and rehab, and now at home, for trails in general and the Hamilton / Trenton / Bordentown Marsh in particular.
NJ WILD readers might suspect that many of your author’s friends are hikers/kayakers. One, Fay Lachmann, leads a weekly group on explorations throughout New Jersey (and sometimes Pennsylvania), a gathering of lively women known as the Hip Hikers.
The good news is, Fay would be taking her group to the Marsh for the first time, on a December Saturday. The challenge was that she didn’t exactly know how negotiate Route 1 South onto South Broad Street at the Arena and on down to Sewell, so she could share this paradise with her group. Guess who does know the way, who was eager to ride along familiar roadways with this most sustaining friend.
What your NJ WILD blogger was hoping was that she could walk the firm earthen road alongside Spring Lake. What I wasn’t admitting was fear that I’d get partway along and not be able to continue.
Amazingly, despite its being almost December dusk when we arrived, the Marsh was shimmery and welcoming. No one else was there. It was as though this tidal freshwater wetlands had been created just for us. Alongside Spring Lake, the road was, indeed, firm, smooth, and mercifully dry.
A scrim of willows intervenes between road and lake, named by Lenni Lenapes because spring-fed. Most likely, it is/was also beaver created, eons ago. The willows kiss their own reflection in all seasons. There is something so calming about their languid branches. You would never guess our state capitol is a few yards away… The willows were particularly stunning on the cusp of winter, –all other trees being bare. Willow branches were Monet-rich in leaves, all of them tinted the wild gold of March, or of canvases we once saw at the Met, “Monet, The Late Years.”
Fay has birder’s eyes and other senses. It was she found the raft of minuscule ducks afloat on a far stretch of the lake. We moved swiftly toward the migrant waterfowl, darkly silhouetted, occasionally bobbing merrily underwater in quest of nourishment. Only two kinds of ducks win the word ‘adorable’ from me, (usually only in private)– buffleheads and coots.
Against the setting sun, I couldn’t discover whether or not these birds showed ‘diagnostic’ white beaks. Still, something about their ‘rubber ducky’ yet dignified behavior simply said ‘coot’. Sure enough, we could approach clearly enough to confirm the guess. It will give NJ WILD readers a sense of how askew I was on that first Marsh walk – I had left my ‘birding glass’ in my own car, back in Princeton.
No optics were needed to see and identify the mute swan, presiding near the small peninsula that usually holds the lake’s swan nest. With full regality, this white wonder sailed out, lifting both wings like Boston’s swan boats. So long as we walked and watched, he kept those ‘arms akimbo’. Swan Lake, indeed. All the beauty and none of the tragedy…
If we’d turned left and circled the lake, I could’ve shown Fay where the wild rice grows. This annual grass attains 8 – 10 feet each autumn, delighting the red-winged blackbirds, staging for migration. I merely waved in the wild rice direction, knowing that this intrepid explorer, –who delights in “Firsts!”–, would find that site on her own with her group.
In water to the right of the lake road, we discovered a new beaver lodge, practically quivering with the energy of recent construction. I told Fay of other lodges that would be to their left, once well upon the woodland trails. And another out, of course, at Beaver Point.
The miracle of beaver lodges is that, when waters are iced, beavers keep water open. Therefore, rarest wild ducks congregate nearby. One might not see (nocturnal) beavers, although we were late enough that we might have. But one will be treated to spectacular waterfowl throughout the Marsh in winter.
Mary and Charles Leck, botanist and ornithologist extraordinaire, have taught me all I know about the Marsh. Their favorite time there is winter, because, “We can see the beavers’ breath.”
My favorite time there is after fresh snowfall. Signatures of raptor wings will decorate a downed log. A long trail of rose-like footprints reveals where the fox strolls and when he changes to hunting mode. The Marsh is always hushed, as it was on our evening stroll. But never more so than when fresh crystals have descended all through the night. That whiteness becomes a newspaper, –night’s headlines inscribed at every turn.
We reached the bridge over troubled waters. I needed to stay dry-shod and stable, but Fay skipped across, as I have so many times. It was as though she were Alice, entering Wonderland. I feel, when I cross that bridge into the woods, as I did when I first saw Wizard of Oz, and the scene changed from black and white to color.
Deep in the Marsh, I have watched a springtime snake bask in new warmth. It was nearly invisible, absolutely matching winter weeds all along an tiny island in one of the first watery stretches. Charles and Mary did not proceed until everyone on that trek could find that snake. There, alone, I’ve heard and watched crows mob the great horned owl who nests in the Marsh. I’ve witnessed scruffed sand revealing the many entries and exits of a fox den.
Charlie Leck showed me my first brown creeper, creeping, up a lakeside trunk. Mary revealed my first hummingbird moth. Apart from being ripe pumpkin orange (against royal purple blooms of pickerel weed), this moth did, indeed, masquerade as a hummingbird. Charlie taught us to rejoice in some sort of caterpillar infestation, for it brought cuckoos beyond counting, to feed and to breed.
The Marsh can be Heron Central in all seasons. Once one walked along the lake trail ahead of my sister and me for almost a half hour. Swans nest at a number of sites. Recently, American bald eagles have made a part of the Marsh their home. Owls drop lacy pellets in the deepest woods. Turtles lay eggs right in the lake road. Clyde Quin and Warren Liebensperger taught us to see turtle noses among the lily pads of the lake. Mary Leck explains that turtles hatch invisibly – if we see shells, that means a predator has been successful.
One memorable fall, from the (under development) Marsh Nature Center, David Allen Sibley took us on an autumnal birdwalk at key migration time. Throughout, David was humble, lively, and always the natural teacher. Interestingly, he seemed most excited about all the redwings – thanks to the Marsh’s wild rice crop.
As Fay and I reluctantly (sundown) retraced the lakeside road, a skein of Canada geese sang their evening song. To our right, migrant birds staged and restaged, as though an invisible senora were trailing her black mantilla along first the treetops, then lake waters, then up against the apricot sky.
The Marsh is always a treasure trove. That sundown walk with Fay turned out to be a naturalist’s Christmas. There are no finer gifts than the natural!
Remember, as always, NJ WILD readers, the preservation and stewardship mission of D&R Greenway Land Trust. Without its vision and vigilance over the decades, this paradise in the middle of Hamilton, Trenton and Bordentown, would not only not exist. It wouldn’t be moderating temperature and floods, removing pollutants, breathing, breeding, serving the multitudinous functions that make wetlands so vital to humans everywhere in the world.
Without preservation and stewardship, the Marsh also wouldn’t be walkable. By those whose two legs work perfectly well, all of the time. Nor by this very grateful convalescent.
Early Light on Water, Cape May, NJ cfe
Dear NJ WILD Readers,
Here is an article written but never accepted in the heady days of print journalism, when my nature excursions earned Pate One’s, color, cover leads, and pages and pages of pictures and text.
Commerce, not nature, is in the driver’s seat in our New Jersey these days, not limited to the media situation. There are antidotes, as NJ WILD readers know, especially connected with water, and usually also with birds.
Cape May Bird Observatory Image of Gannet
Cape May, however, came into being through whalers from Cape Cod, a Captain May, in the 1600’s. Most people know her Victoriana and her beaches. However, there are watery stretches where it all still resembles Captain May’s views, and the birding is beyond price. In addition, on the Skimmer, you are with enthusiasts, even scholars - not tourists…
Cape May Victoriana, Christmastime, cfe
One can also take whale-and-dolphin-watching journeys on boats out of the Miss Chris Marina, on your left as you drive into town from the Garden State Parkway.
“Marriage of Air and Water” — Brown Pelican Flying over Cape May Seas: Brenda Jones
Enjoy learning, literally, another side of Cape May. Follow my foote-steps, or boat-steps to experience pristine nature and the stoppage of time…
Your always-traveler, ex-Seasonal-Reporter for any number of local papers… c
Black Skimmers in Flight over the Ocean, Cape May, near the Jetty Brenda Jones
The Skimmer is now boarded at Dolphin Cove Marina across from the Two Mile Beach Unit of the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge at the toll bridge on Ocean Drive, Cape May, New Jersey.
The Skimmer Afloat from Cape May Times
CAPE MAY: OUR VENICE
Compare Cape May to Venice? No way! And yet, I couldn’t get this image out of my head on a recent visit to New Jersey’s southernmost point. Both are water-riddled towns whose greatest glory is long past. In the age of sail, adventurers and merchants; captains, crews; soldiers and brigands crowded their wharves. The Adriatic and the Delaware River served as their Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike combined. Traffic coursed in from all points of the compass until masts blocked out the sun. Residents of both locales made their way deftly, by small craft, on sinuous waterways, — probably more readily than we do, today, by land.
Both Cape May and Venice have riveting effects on creativity. Some of the world’s most famous artists (Turner, Monet, Canaletto, John Singer Sergent) immortalized La Serenissima reflected in her glistening tides, in rain on piazzas. In both places, over the decades, photographers have reached new heights. Even though, — in sea-level Italy or New Jersey –, they are probably the lowest they will ever find themselves – absolute sea level and sometimes, in Venice, below… The light of both sea-girt sites is legendary, — sharpening eyes, attunement and focus.
In both towns, I have found writing inescapable as the seawind. I cannot even go out to eat in either location without notebook and pen. We know Venice had that effect on Thomas Mann, Ruskin, and Mary McCarthy, among others. It may be influx and egress of saltwater and that iodized air that give everything there its cutting edge. Even reading among canals becomes richer. To look up to light reflected on high ceilings, to read to the lap of waves, is to be impregnated by creativity. Even fog, a gale, alters everything dramatically –impressions must be incised somewhere, somehow, because of their very fluidity.
Silent Night - Cape May Christmas
Maybe it’s none of the above – maybe the catalyst is Neptune himself. He’s everywhere, you see. Not only beyond the waves, where dolphins leapt onto their tails as we checked into our Cape May Beach Avenue rooms. The very land becomes tidal. It is, after all, a barrier beach. The purpose of such natural features is to protect the land behind it, to roll over and play dead, as it were, breaking the force of those relentless combers. I’ve been at Cape May at sunrise, sunset, moonrise, in fog that pours like swiftly closed theatre curtains. I’ve hiked her beaches in a three-day-blow, when the temperature (45) matched the miles per hour of that nor’east gale. The land itself throbs. That, too, may quicken creativity. All I know is, that there is an electricity in water-ridden, water-riddled landscapes that is only matched on the rim of steaming volcanoes.
I’ve seen but one tide clock in all my Cape May journeys, — the only timepieces that thrill me. I contend that the traveler him- or herself, — in Venice, in Cape May –among those rippling scarves of water, becomes a thrumming tidal clock.
And you can get right out into this, in the part of Cape May which is Venice-accessible to this day, lacking only the singing gondolier. Climb aboard any of the many nautical tour boats. Set out, — no matter whether you’re on flood tide or neap, whether moon is at apogee or perigee –, to discover reaches and creatures inaccessible by other means. (There are kayaks and canoes, rentable at any number of locations in season – for example, 609-884-3351.)
Rare Shorebird Central: Salt Marsh Safaris on The Skimmer - Cape May Times
I recently set off aboard The Skimmer, run by Wildlife Unlimited (609-884-3100 – www.skimmer.com) on their 1:30 p.m. “voyage of discovery into the Cape’s greatest wilderness – Atlantic coastal back bays.”
(photo) http://www.skimmer.com/theboat.htm This 40-foot pontoon craft has a shallow draft, granting access to sensitive and remote reaches of spartina grass and 4000-year-old peat, where nature’s rarities parade with a confidence born of inaccessibility. Cap’n Bob and his wife and full partner, Linda are not only highly trained naturalists. They blend scientific precision with artists’ appreciation of the wild and the beautiful. Each reveals an almost psychic attunement to the most subtly camouflaged birds, shellfish, even minuscule immature fish. In season, three departures illumine each seaside day. In autumn, we were limited to 1:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Had we had time to read promotional literature provided by our motel, we’d have had $2-off coupons in hand, as did many of the (generally repeat) customers who boarded with us on a soft October day. http://www.skimmer.com/coupon.htm brings you an Internet coupon from their very attractive and informative Website.
Skimmer’s Captain Explains Salt Marsh Creatures — Cape May Times
We asked our returning co-passengers, “What brings you back?” “They are so experienced!,” was the lively consensus. It’s more than that. I’ve been on birding tours where experience had conferred upon the leaders only snobbery, a conviction that neither the birds nor their fellow birders were worthy of their input. Linda and Bob bring the finest gift to those who sail with them – enthusiasm. They come to their roles as highly educated as those who attain Carnegie Hall: Practice, practice, practice, plus years of schooling and days of qualifying exams. Together, they’ve plied Cape May backwaters for 8 years, — three times each day in season. Sometimes they sail out of the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor. Sometimes they affiliate with the renowned Cape May Bird Observatory. However you find them, drop everything, pick up your finest optics, and set sail upon the Skimmer.
Their Craft is Coast-Guard inspected and approved. A roof protects from raindrops. Side windows are glassless, so warm gear may be in order on windy days. Word is that the salt marshes they explore remain mosquitoless in summer, possibly because of efficient killifish noshing ravenously upon mosquito larvae at the perfect moment.
The theme of the Skimmer’s Captain and First Mate is a passion for wetlands. Although ‘mine’ (Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh) is freshwater tidal and theirs is salt, the bottom line (pun untended) of these regions is fecundity. A little-known fact is that marshes far exceed rainforests in richness, profusion and diversity of life. 90% of human nourishment has its base in beings and plants of the marshes. Stunning news, considering that filling them in was considered the highest good in the very recent past.
Quantitative types get off on these #s and %s. I, however, go to the marshes for beauty, the primal and pristine. Now I see that it’s no longer necessary to drive seven hours, fight my way across the Sagamore Bridge onto Cape Cod in order to find places where life begins. Wide reaches of autumnally golden grasses burst from bittersweet chocolate peat, intersected by shimmering reaches of saltwater – all right here, ‘in our own backyard’.
Aboard the Skimmer, the journey truly is the destination. We nosed imperceptibly out of our slip past a creek owned by a monarchical great blue heron. Around his stately legs pranced ‘a crowd, a host’ of golden Greater Yellowlegs, a shore bird whose smaller cousin (the Lesser) is one of my favorites at Smithville’s Brigantine Wildlife Refuge. We moved out serenely out into the Inland Waterway, Bob regaling us with tales of politicians somehow treated to whales, as well as unaccustomed privacy, at his hands. We passed merry fishermen, up to their chests in saltwater. Bob assured us, — from his own delight in that sport –, that — with the proper gear, one is not cold.
We moved under old bridges that open by gravity to permit passage of tall masts. On later, land-bound, rubber-tired excursions, I realized that the Skimmer had taken us in and around the Wildwoods, Stone Harbor, etc. But it didn’t matter where we were. What counted was the wildlife, — most especially winged –, which Linda found and Bob coaxed the Skimmer quietly over to inspect. In summer, the Skimmer team monitors Cape May’s osprey nests. We were treated to nest population reports for each platform we passed, whether or not any untidy mass of sticks that serves as osprey nursery remained after recent high winds.
Occasionally, we would nudge ashore, walk out on the back ‘deck’ where Bob was already busy netting tidal creatures. Chartreuse shrimp, transparent as lime Jello, flipped in Linda’s careful fingers. Tiny so-ugly-they’re-cute mummichogs (bait fish) curled upon Bob’s palm. Bob described a shrimp soup, made by people in Asia, from just such net contents – “a pound of shrimp is a pound of pure protein. You eat the whole thing. We just pop ‘em in fat, fry them up into shrimp popcorn.”
Dark shadows on inlet bottoms stretched without limit –mussels, exceedingly immature, rich, glistening in the month’s lowest tide. How many? “A gazillion,” our guide insisted. Bob held holey sea lettuce up to the sun. A green so bright it impacts eyes as fingernails on blackboards strafe ears, this ‘lettuce’ is supple, ruffly. Bob insisted it is edible. When I reached out to taste, he said, “No, not from here. (Because of boat traffic on the Inland Waterway).
Cormorant on Long Beach Island Rocks - Brenda Jones
Double-crested cormorants, — already long gone from Princeton –, seemed to be congregating for a last hurrah in Cape May before their long southward stretch. Able to swim 30 mph underwater, they are surpassed in submarine speed and weight by common loons (to which rarities the Skimmer also bore us). A ‘tardy osprey’ circled us lazily, flashing that Lone Ranger mask into lowering light. Black-bellied plovers in winter plumage (no black bellies!) strutted their stuff on the sand. Ruddy turnstones, despite their endangered condition due to overharvest of horseshoe crabs, paraded along a bobbing log. All the spiky grasses were increasingly gilded as the day wore on. In among the gilt posed tall blinding white great egrets and the occasional cindery great blue heron. There was a timelessness out there in Cape May’s back bays such as I usually have to leave this country to enjoy.
Great Blue Heron, Giving Voice - Brenda Jones
On our way back, Bob and Linda took time to educate all passengers on conservation, on the vital nature of marshes, and briefly to tell us of ‘eagling’ aboard in winter… In another season, enthusiasts can seek out bald eagles with Linda and Bob along the Maurice (pronounced ‘Morris’) River, aboard the Skimmer: http://www.skimmer.com/bald.htm
Depart at 10 a.m.
Depart at 1 p.m.
Mar. 22 & 23; Mar. 3/29 & 30; Apr. 5 & 6———trips 2.5hrs. long
Ironically, however, we were not treated to black skimmers on our voyage. Only at dawn the next morning, in a downpour, did I find diamond-shaped squadrons of these dapper black-and-white shorebirds, arrowing in from the full sea to the beach before our motel. They move as one organism, flashing white, then black, moving now this way, now that. Only when some inescapable signal has been given and received does the entire troupe arrest, descend. I watched long through silvery raindrops, bright beaks welcome on a sodden morning.
Cape May and Venice share one last similarity. They are so completely different in every way from everything we have come to see as normal. Trucks and highways, cell towers and phones, chain restaurants and traffic lights, green overhead highway signs, exit-mentality. Everything that we absorb as heedlessly as an amoeba surrounds grit suddenly becomes the stuff of nightmares in these watery sisters.
What is real is curtains billowing in a sea breeze; a black wing and an orange beak bisecting a waterway, intensified and doubled as are these two cities by their fluid mirrors. Infused by storied pasts, both cities tremble always on the brink of possibility.
Skimming Over Cape May, Brenda Jones
Filed Under (Activism, Animals of the Wild, D&R Canal & Towpath, Destruction, Disaster, Government, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, NJ WILD, habitat) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 23-05-2011
In Memoriam - Beavers of Mountain Lakes Preserve Shot on Friday, May 13
my source Princeton Packet, May 20
What could’ve happened - from my NYC roommate from 1960’s, now living in Washington, D.C.:
That’s a real shame. Washington had a beaver problem a few years back - one of them moved into the Tidal Basin and started cutting down young cherry trees! The Park Service live trapped the critter and released it out in the country, far away.
From a blog called Martinez Beavers: A couple months ago I was avidly reading “In Beaver World” by Enos Mills who was called the “John Muir of the Rockies”.
Beaver works are of economical and educational value besides adding a charm to the wilds. The beaver is a persistent practicer of conservation and should not perish from the hills and mountains of our land. Altogether, the beaver has so many interesting ways, is so useful, skillful, practical, and picturesque that his life and his deeds deserve a larger place in literature and in our hearts.
Brenda Jones’ Images of Beavers of Mapleton Aqueduct
– where and how we met –
Friday the 13th was an unlucky day, indeed, for two beavers of Princeton. On that day, our Animal Control Officer, Mark Johnson, seems to have unilaterally decided that these wild creatures were a nuisance. He took it upon himself to order a strolling woman, Kathleen Hutchins — who had been making beaver pilgrimages each (non-rainy) evening–, to leave the Mountain Lakes Preserve at 7:30 p.m., because he was “going to get rid of them.”
Beaver Swims North of Mapleton Aqueduct - Brenda Jones
Asked why not relocating, the officer’s answer was that he was going to kill them. Relocating would’ve been natural. We go on beaver walks in the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh, right down the road. Botanist Mary Leck and Ornithologist Charlie Leck, who lead these walks, prefer the winter ones, “because you can see the beavers’ breath…” “Not relocating because I am going to kill them” is no answer, a travesty of the highest magnitude.
The officer’s so-called reasons: “The beavers were raising the water and eating the vegetation.”
Beaver Breakfast — Brenda Jones — Mapleton Aqueduct Family
NJ WILD readers know my fascination for and gratitude to beavers, since they brought Brenda and Cliff Jones to me, north of the Millstone Aqueduct, on land preserved by D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work. The three of us were on pilgrimage to this then new phenomenon. They knew where and when to find these nocturnal beings whose gleaming sculptures had begun to add interest to the canal’s vegetation in recent weeks. Beavers, the essence of wildness, had honored us, as have the American bald eagles, by choosing to live and raise their young in our midst.
Close-up of Millstone Aqueduct Beaver — Brenda Jones
Everyone knows, raising water levels, building dams, building lodges, eating vegetation - those heinous offenses for which the Meadow Lakes “Preserve” beavers had to pay with their lives – this is what beavers do. They are part of the cosmic circle of life. Water-raising is needed so that other forms of life may come into being and thrive. In winters, especially harsh ones, beavers keep waters open so that waterfowl may drink, may swim, may access foods to survive that season’s challenges.
Bufflehead, one of many Winter Ducks who benefit from beaver-open water - Brenda Jones
Who is this “Animal Control Officer” to decide that beavers are not to fulfill their centuries-old purpose on this planet?
It’s WE who are in Beaver Territory! Their rights to these lands and waters pre-date the Lenni Lenape, 10,000-years-ago such light voyagers upon these lands.
Beaver Swimming Away Brenda Jones
Nevermore to Be Seen at Mountain Lakes Preserve…
Letters of protest are being written.
Investigations are underway.
The “Control Officer” is on purported vacation this week.
Protests and investigations will not bring back wild lives.
Beaver Yearling as Narcissus - Brenda Jones
From the Packet article of Friday, May 20, “A permit is needed for the trapping of beaver. It is illegal to shoot beavers, which are a protected species in New Jersey.”
Beavertail Warning, Brenda Jones
later story in Times of Trenton - bolds mine, of course… $100 - $200 fine….
“TROUBLESOME’ — THE NERVE OF US! “When will we ever learn, when will we everrrrr learn?….” cfe
PRINCETON TOWNSHIP — The killing of a pair of troublesome beavers last week by a local animal control officer has sparked an uproar among animal lovers, some of whom think the aquatic tree-munching animals should simply have been relocated.
“It is just terrible to kill them that way,” said resident Kathleen Hutchins. “ It is outrageous that they had to be shot, and people in the neighborhood are really upset about it. People used to walk over with their children to see them. I’d go out at dusk to see them and they were just fabulous.”
Township administrator Bob Bruschi said the beavers were considered a nuisance because they were contributing to flooding at the Pettoranello Gardens section of Community Park North, which is home to a pond and a number of streams. [in other words, ideal beaver habitat cfe]
There was a problem with flooding in the park, Bruschi said, and workers attempted to take down dams the beavers built that made the water level in the pond rise, “but the beavers were very persistent.”
An spokesman for the state Division of Fish and Wildlife said the Princeton animal control department, which is run jointly by Princeton Borough and Township, failed to obtain the required permit prior to euthanizing the beavers, but said that the beavers probably would have had to be killed.
Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the department, said beavers may be trapped either in conibear traps, which kill them, or in live traps. If live traps are used, the animals must be euthanized and may not be relocated, he said.
Bruschi said Princeton animal control officer Mark Johnson said he had checked with state officials beforehand to find out what the process would be to remove the beavers. Bruschi acknowledged that the animal control officer did not receive an actual permit to trap, remove or kill the beavers, but said Johnson thought he had gotten verbal approvals from the state to kill the beavers.
Residents like Hutchins challenged the state policy that requires the beavers to be killed, questioning why they can’t be moved.
“We move black bears,” she said. “Why can’t beavers be trapped and moved? There are a million places they could take them where they would not cause a nuisance, like Lake Carnegie.”
More information is still being gathered about the incident, Bruschi said, adding that it is being handled as a personnel matter.
Township Mayor Chad Goerner, a frequent walker at Pettoranello Gardens, expressed shock and disappointment about the killings and called for an investigation into the way in which the matter was handled.
“I live close to the park and I would walk there just to try to catch a glimpse of the beavers,” Goerner said. “Then I learned from neighbors that they had been shot while people were present in the park. I understand that perhaps they needed to be removed, but I have concerns about the way the situation was handled, both in terms of the humane treatment of the animals and the safety factor, which is a major concern.”
The shooting occurred late at night, when the nocturnal creatures are most active and most accessible. Hutchins said no shooting should occur in a public park, no matter what time or whether the park is closed.
Hajna said fines for illegally trapping a beaver range from $100 to $200 and it is considered a municipal offense.
Local police are looking into the case, he said, but the Division of Fish and Wildlife is not actively investigating at this time. The department will review the report prepared by local police when it is completed, he said.
Goerner said the borough and township should develop a plan for handling similar problems in the future to guarantee the safety of residents.
Filed Under (Adventure, Environment, Farmland, Fishing, Food, Forests, Government, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Indians, KAYAKING, NJ, NJ State Parks, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Pine Barrens, Preservation, habitat) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 10-04-2011
Spring Tiptoes Through the Pines
Lake Oswego Invites, Pine Barrens, New Jersey, April 2011 (cfe)
Desperate for spring, yesterday, I took a friend –who’d never been in the Pinelands– to this pristine region of our beleaguered, overpopulated state.
Both of us were absolutely enchanted all the day long.
On empty roads, which I term “My Secret Roads”, into Pinelands, I have been taught and taught, “The Journey is the Destination.” My friend experienced this reality. You can, too!
True Pine Barrens Welcome, (cfe)
How to undertake this miraculous Journey: Route 563 South from Chatsworth (Heart of the Pines). First stop into Buzby’s General Store, at the corner of 563 and 532, just south of the firehouse. Go into Buzby’s for Pine Barrens books and products - local, sustainable, traditional and real.
Marilyn Schmidt at Buzby’s with her Easter Tree, by Sharon Olson
Especially buy its splendid, thorough and revelatory Pine Barrens Map, while they last. It was designed by the lady at the desk, my friend Marilyn Schmidt. This powerhouse of a woman saved Buzby’s from oblivion and worse, doing whatever it took to have it named to the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. She also wrote and published many of the books on Pine Barrens history, lingo, graveyards and foods.
Blueberry Bread, Cranberry Bread, Cornbread Mixes from Buzby’s (cfe)
To Find Lake Oswego: South of Chatsworth, on the left, be on lookout for small thin sign, reading “Oswego”, VERY high in a tree. (Locals hammered the lake’s name to a tree so it would grow up up and away. Pineys are famous for wanting to keep their beautiful region for themselves.)
Turn left and wander along that long not winding lane, between bogs. This time of year, they are flooded lest vital vines be frozen during still chilly nights. You’ll pass a state institute of research on the Pines’ most famous crops, cranberries and blueberries. Bogs are also flooded, to assist with wet harvest.
Cranberry Harvest, Alongside 563, near Chatsworth, Autumn, 2010 (cfe)
Yesterday, I fretted, with state finances in such disarray, will berry research still be funded next time I drive to Oswego?
The first time I took the Oswego road, a minuscule forest fire was running right along both edges. between road and sand, not yet into woods.
Fire is the friend of the Pine Barrens - clearing out pine duff and too many oaks, allowing fire-resistant pitch pines to burgeon anew (newly fertilized by ash), serotinous cones only burst by heat, seeds scattered by firewinds. Without pine duff and oak seedlings, and only without them, the Pines can thrive.
“Sure, a Little Bit of Heaven Fell…” (cfe)
On my forest fire drive, it was deep winter. Flames danced like tiny red snakes, temptation dancers – Firebird, Sheherezade. To continue to watch such a dance, would I give the dancers anything, even John the Baptist’s head?
Beyond whirling tongues of orange and copper and scarlet and gold, snow and ice ruled. Beneath white glaze were waiting Pine Barrens rarities, –carnivorous plants, spring-raucous Pine Barrens tree frogs, spotted turtles, rare corn snakes and special rattlesnakes, curly grass fern, elusive swamp pink…
Firelings writhed merrily along. Pavement ended. Auslanders are not supposed to drive on sugar sand roads. But I was drawn on and on, over the tiny bridge, to that scintillation of lake –absolutely irresistible:
“In Just Spring”, Even Though April, (cfe)
I am forever magnetized by Lake Oswego. Partly because, there, I still feel Indians to whom it used to be sacred.
Sacred Pine Barrens Peat Water of Lake Oswego on Fourth of July (cfe)
Partly because blueberries grow on all sides there, on host shrubs taller than I. The fruit of each bush holds a different flavor, texture, size and juiciness. No wonder New Jersey makes blueberry wine. Sampling those berries in June is like walking through a wine tasting. Except that these ‘grapes’ are blue and high and warm in sun.
Alongside that little bridge that I first met in fire and ice, spring will bring white bells that turn into blueberries.
A little later, air beside the bridge will be perfumed by the white cascades of sweet pepper bush. Everywhere is water, and somewheres kayakers. And sometimes happy swimmers and dabblers. Always appreciators.
Hikers Discuss Lake Oswego Trails (cfe)
This magic enclave is more than 50 and less than 75 miles from where I used to live at Canal Pointe. This magic awaits in all seasons.
Is Bright Moss Spring? (cfe)
However, yesterday, I would say that we found beauty yes but spring, no.
Small State Forest Sign, Not Identifying Lake- Will Sign Be There Next Time? (cfe)
Lake Oswego is a State Park, although the large state sign at entry has been removed. [Not sure whether this is Piney Keep-Out attitude, or State parsimony.
Such absences are ever ominous to a preservationist, but not troubling to the hikers and fishermen of yesterday. Fishermen and -woman grinned from ear to ear, even though they were reluctantly turning their backs on the lake. “What are you catching here?”, I asked, having just finished Richard Louv’s “Fly Fishing for Sharks”, therefore feeling every inch a virtual fisherman. “Pickerel,” they said, glowing. Ah, ha! I’d always wanted to hear of pickerel, this near to the sea.
I remembered that nomadic New Jersey Indians once moved from their hunting (inland) lives to their gathering lives at the Shore, after gathering at our (Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh), creating the sand trails that became the 20th Century’s 195 over to Brielle and the sea. I remembered that they knew to move to the ocean when the leaves of pickerel weed (which grows and provides sanctuary for fish in (fake) Lake Carnegie, not only thrust to full height, but opened to full light.
I really wanted to meet a pickerel. But they had no catch - all catch and release, as is the way of fishing in American waters now.
This pine-ringed lake could be the finest Old Pawn jewelry, venerable turquoise set in the richly carved bezel of stately green-black pines.
At Lake Oswego, in all seasons, all is the silence and peace I seek.
Visitors know and respect its soothing, inspiring aura, even when spring won’t arrive.
Our Earliest Flower - the Swamp Maple — Oswego’s Only April 9 Bloom (cfe)