Archive for the ‘habitat’ Category
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 (Activism, Adventure, Brigantine Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, Cumberland County, Farm Markets, Forests, Henry David Thoreau, KAYAKING, NJ, NJ State Parks, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Oceans, Pine Barrens, Preservation, Revolutionary War, Solitude, The Seasons, Timelessness, Tranquillity, Trees, Wildflowers, habitat, protection, raptors, rivers, trails, wild, wildness) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 11-02-2012
Lake Oswego Peace — South of Chatsworth, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Desperately seeking the wild, I’ve returned to my Edward Abbey collection, making my way through his work and others writing about this literary rebel, this self-proclaimed ‘desert rat’. It is essential right now that I live for awhile with ‘Cactus Ed’.
I need his crusty refusals of ‘growth and development’. I require his ecstasy in the face of cactus and rattlesnake. My healing leg ‘walks’ with Ed in these books — in his red rocks and among his cherished junipers, occasionally coming upon desert primrose, respecting the ever-present spider and viper.
But enough of this prickly Paradise. I have my own. And it’s in our state - in the spirit of Abbey, I defy myself to define Paradise, because mine is in New Jersey:
Lake Oswego Summer, South of Chatsworth, Pine Barrens (cfe)
shared with one attuned person or blessedly alone, sometimes with camera
there is sand, and/or marshland
Afloat, Lake Oswego — (cfe)
long silken grasses are kissed and rearranged by very varied tides
birds are ever present or possible: on the ground, in trees, ruffling the leaves, troubling the shrubs. Birds are overhead. They pierce tidal flats. Wings flat out, they harry and raptor. Some murmur, some croak. Everywhere I walk, there are whistlings, whisperings and rustlings. I am ever on the lookout for rails and bitterns, whether I ever find one or not. A bird is downing two snakes in the time it takes to type this (as did a great egret at ‘The Brigantine’ some years ago). A minuscule pied-billed grebe gulps a January frog, as happened a few weeks back.
Thistle Shimmer, Lake Batsto (cfe)
back roads get me to Paradise — hushed roads, where I am often the only car. Road edges are dusted with sugar sand. Forest understory (which must contain evergreen and the luminous black jack oak), switches from laurel to blueberry to fern to pine seedlings and oakthrusts, and back again.
New Jersey Paradise is especially defined by its people - who live by the seasons and the tides. The Abbey in me asserts, “not by the clock; and, by God, not by the Dow Jones Stock Index!”
the roads that lead to Carolyn’s Paradise must hold a beauty of their own, for at least 2/3 of the way. Pine Barrens and Salem and Cumberland County provide such aesthetic conduits, away from commerce, to wildest nature
Idyllic Batsto Lake, Pine Barrens (cfe)
roadways and destinations involve freshwater, saltwater, varying salinities, peatwater, whitewater, the stillness of the bays darkling streams wind alluringly back under the dark pines, tugging at the kayaker in me
the regions I am exploring involve bogs and fens, spongs, groves and copses
rare plants lurk right around the next bend — curly grass fern, swamp pink, carnivorous flowers who must lure insects for protein due to the strange ph of soils in Carolyn’s New Jersey Paradise — sundew, pitcher plant — those ravenous ones… when least expecting it, I am to be knocked over by wild fragrance, such as sweet pepperbush, along the peatwaters of Lake Oswego south of Chatsworth rare lilies bloom in ditches as I drive goldenclub erupts behind a dam I would otherwise despise with Abbey - but it did create this ideal habitat for a plant I’d only known in the splendid nature books of Howard Boyd
Among the Rare Lilies, Brigantine Wildlife Refuge (cfe)
often in my wanderings to and through Paradise, I must come on mosses and lichens and occasional fungi. Although I long to devour each mushroom, this foraging remains virtual, ignorance being quite the barrier where these savories are concerned
Leeds Point - Hard-Shell and Soft-Shell Crabs cfe
quaint names are essential — alongside the back roads and out in front of farms, beside the waters:
“Troublesome Acres” “Heaven’s Way Farm” “Farrier” Dividing Creek “Bears, Bucks and Ducks” Shellpile Bivalve Caviar Ong’s Hat — some of these names go back generations and centuries, and only the locals may know how to find them, by a crumbling foundation or some domestic plant run wild in another kind of wilderness Applejack Hill’s name has been changed, for the tourists, to Apple Pie Hill — Abbey, are you listening? Applejack, of course, — talk about terroir!– was/is New Jersey Lightnin’ — each Piney tending his own still with attention, experience and a shotgun.
Sneak Boat Ready to Sneak - Leeds Point (cfe)
History must have happened in my Paradise — especially Native American and Revolutionary
Here a battle must have been fought and lost, such as the fiery Revolutionary fate of Chestnut Neck.
Here locals must have defied and overcome proud dazzlingly uniformed British, taking their ships and their stores inland from the coast, along the storied Mullica River - without which waters and watermen we would not have a nation today!
Clouds in the Water, Chatsworth Bogs (cfe)
Here salt hay must have been harvested by man and horse in the steamiest of seasons, and great whales tugged ashore and ‘tried’ for their various riches.
Here traitors must’ve conspired, smugglers rowed by night, bootleggers brought contraband ashore to sell and to imbibe.
Leed’s Point - Smugglers’ Haven - Living Fishing Port cfe
Here clammers still tug their rich provender onto deck and into seafood restaurants tethered to waterways, creaking boards hinting of sagas of old, as at Oyster Creek Inn at Leeds Point.
It helps that Leeds Point is the home of the Jersey Devil, whom I am still requesting to meet.
“Ready to Roll” cfe
Intriguing restaurants must be nearby. Farmers’ Markets must be open, and people must be selling the spring’s first asparagus, sliced from that meagre soil, at roadstands with a little box for the money for this treasure beyond price. Russo’s Market in Tabernacle must have its spicy applesauce apples outside in thick plastic bags, next to the honesty box, at the beginning of winter.
Only people who treasure timelessness and tranquillity need apply for such journeys.
A day in the Pines will require about 200 miles of driving, longer if we detour to Tuckerton, formerly Clamtown. Why Tuckerton? Because great and little blue and tri-colored herons may stud the grassy reaches, depending on the tide, as we tool along Seven Bridges Road. Because there’s a place along there, –out on a somewhat suspect roadway–, where one can stop for the freshest clams, unless one has wriggled them out personally, using one’s own toes. Because at the end of this road, (and HOW I LOVE Land’s Ends!), there used to be an island village, now sea-claimed. Here, in season, one can find the vivid oystercatchers in full breeding plumage, turning over the few rocks on the sandy approach to the bay.
Life of the Seasons and the Tides Leeds Point cfe
Because closer to town, one can happen to be there when evergreens are studded with black-crowned night herons, squawk-murmuring to one another as sun drops into autumnal waters.
Carolyn’s New Jersey Paradise has to include kayaking possibilities, for her physical therapist is promising ‘back in the craft’ by April. If so, there is above all the Wading River to paddle and many ‘liveries’ to make these delicate journeys possible. There is always the exquisite Barnegat Bay in Island Beach’s back reaches - those paddles used to be free, with naturalists leading us among the Sedge Islands. There a feast of shore birds includes black skimmers not only skimming, but doing their odd sand squiggle on their bellies, when it’s just too hot.
Black Skimmers in Flight, Brenda Jones
I deeply understand Cactus Ed’s passion for the sere landscape of Arches and Canyonlands. I relish, with him, the silence. I don’t have rock formations in my Paradise, nor the song of the canyon wren and the slither of sidewinder. His Paradise is red and pink and magenta and ochre and burnt sienna and irreplaceable.
Mine is mostly forest green, toasty oak, sometimes ruddy blueberry leaves, interspersed with limitless stretches of flooded cranberry bogs, throwing back the sunset. In the distance, there is salt tang. Close up, there is the sibilance of peatwater.
If Ed had known the Pine Barrens, –especially her crusty inhabitants–, I think he’d've approved. Maybe only if he found it before Arches and Canyonlands. He might’ve kayaked the Sedge Islands, and even boarded the restored oyster schooner down at Bivalve, and helped tug the sails into the sky while singing sea chanteys.
Revolutionary Massacre Site - Alloway Creek, Salem County — (cfe)
He’d probably hang out overnight, black flies and greenheads or no, on the sands of Reed’s Beach when it’s studded with courting, mating horseshoe crabs and whatever red knots and ruddy turnstones remain on our planet.
Bucolic Salem County, where Rebels Countered Redcoats and Prevailed cfe
Paradise — for Ed and for me — seems to require a dearth of humans. It need not be awash in critters, but there needs to be that ever-possibility. Even the new health of New Jersey oysters, “Cape May Salts.” Even the restoration of sturgeon to the Delaware River and elsewhere along this state of three coasts — once so enormous and plentiful that there is a mystery town still known as Caviar along the Delaware Bay.
An essential quality of Paradise, however, is that it cannot be explained.
So, inexplicably, I assert, New Jersey, especially South Jersey (and also Sandy Hook) holds varying versions of Paradise, all of them yours for the seeing. And none of them seasonally-dependent. Go for it!
Salem Preserved cfe
AND, ABOVE ALL, SEE THAT ALL VERSIONS OF NEW JERSEY PARADISE ARE PRESERVED!
Lest, like Thoreau, we find out we had not lived…
Henry David Thoreau re Walden Year(s):
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”
Filed Under (Adventure, Amphibians, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brigantine Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Pine Barrens, Preservation, habitat) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 09-01-2012
Pied-Billed Grebe Swallowing Frog, January 3, 2012, by Anne Zeman
NJ WILD readers know that my favorite non-Princeton excursion is to the Brigantine Wildlife Refuge (a.k.a. Forsythe), near Smithville and (arrgghh!) Atlantic City. ‘The Brig’ has served as my own wild refuge since I discovered it somewhere in the 1990’s.
Bays and impoundments are threaded by firm sand roads (actually dikes), so drivers may bird in all seasons, in all weathers. Differing salinities allow different plants to grow, providing nourishment and shelter for wild birds. The refuge is supported by duck stamps.
I’ve literally been at ‘the Brig’ in fire and in ice. Fire being controlled burns, to keep dread phragmites (towering blinding reeds that destroy foods and shelter required by wild birds); and ice which sometimes even closes ‘the Brig.’ So I go over to Scott’s Landing and up to Tuckerton, off the Garden State Parkway, but there is nothing like ‘the Brig’.
On the first Monday of 2012, I was given my first post-hip-op trip to this haven with dear friend and consummate birder, (co-founder and co-sustainer of Kingston Christmas Bird Count), Anne Zeman. Her astounding picture opens this post.
No one can ever declare “best local birding day”, but it was definitely a contender. In terms of quality and quantity of sightings, that day was as though we had taken seven trips ’round, instead of the single one my recent surgery dictated.
Great Blue Heron in Snow, Brenda Jones
Before we even reached the Gull Pond Tower, we had a first. We became aware of three great blue herons in water, and one perched overhead (that tree in other seasons holds black-crowned night herons). This primordial scene was right across Gull Pond after our turn. Suddenly, all birds took off as one, arrowing over our car as though shot by Hiawatha. Something significant had spooked these birds who are usually the essence of calm.
With her superb optics, Anne found the reason - a fox, in daytime, prancing toward the pond among shrubs and some debris of fallen trees. Anne has never seen a fox at the Brig - though they sip from her Kingston pond… When I’d stay overnight down there, to be first car in before dawn, and/or last car out, I could follow foxes down woods-enclosed roadways. But, even for me, it’s been a long time between foxes.
Fox Close-Up, Brenda Jones
Anne Zeman, and her husband Mark Peel, are the type of birders who travel avidly to other states and other lands in search of new species. Even so, they remain super-loyal to New Jersey, in particularly their own Kingston, and ‘the Brig’.
Looking back on our day, Mark and Anne remain most amazed by our having found ten species of winter ducks. But this is a contest we cannot call, what was the most astounding.
Our immediate next bird was a pied-billed grebe. This tiny member of the duck family, in water beside the car, [and we still weren't even at the tower], was calmly swallowing an enormous frog. Its prey seemed quite alive - legs kicking and all that. Anne hopes frog was ’still in winter torpor.’ I remain astonished that any cold-blooded creature was ‘findable’ on the second day of January. That saucy little elegant grebe was as matter-of-fact about his brunch as though it were a mere canape. He sailed immediately off, afterwards, in quest of other delicacies.
I’m not going to be able to recreate that day for NJ WILD. It would take seven posts. So I’ll just list our species in order. And you can go see for yourself.
Here’s my secret route, upon which even on major holidays, we are mostly the only car on Pine Barrens roads. US 1 South to 295 South to the Columbus Exit. Go toward town, take 206 (left jughandle) exit (South) and proceed past Contes Farm Market at 70 Traffic Circle. Left (south) on Carranza Road. Left (east) at Russo’s Farm Market onto 532. Right (south) in Chatsworth onto 563. Left (east) onto 679 into New Gretna. South (right) onto 9 which takes you onto Garden State Parkway over Mullica River for moments. Off at exit 48 for Smithville. Back onto 9 South, to Lily Lake Road and Forsythe Wildlife Refuge. Keep these directions for Fourth of July and Labor Day - you won’t believe your solitude, as you meander through the heart of cranberry country to the heart of New Jersey birding in all seasons.
Species list, January 2, 2012 [bolds are duck species]
Bufflehead, Brenda Jones
Red-winged blackbirds, first-year
Red-Winged Blackbird in Usual Season, Brenda Jones
Great blue herons and Anne says yellow-crowned but I couldn’t see crown
PIED-GILLED GREBE EATING FROG
Shovelers - when tipped, legs bright breeding orange
Coots - not only in water but walking on grasses like guinea hens
(notes in here re slate-blue water, opened window allows ‘eau de fox’ to bless us)
oh, yes, American Bald Eagle soaring flapless over Absecon Bay, never moving a feather, out of sight
Northern harrier, harrying grasses with Atlantic City in background
(note - window open, duck laughter makes me jump!)
Green-winged teal — green blindingly vivid as they turned toward eastern light
(window open - familiar cherished sound… could it be… YES!)
Snow geese, like mounds of snow, all over grasses between us and bay and casinos. Their half murmur, half bark alerted us to a few on high. Then more, and more, until the sky was FULL of snow geese. Possibly tens of thousands of them. Muttering, almost meowing, their communication blessed every moment of the rest of our circuit. Overhead, they seemed to be asking of their myriad of relatives on the grass, “Request permission to come ashore.”
Hundreds of shorebirds, doing their flying-as-one-creature routine, then settling and settling onto water - probably dowitchers. Very very far from us, no matter which turn of the road we might be on.
Great black-backed gulls
oh, yes, and robins beyond counting back in woods and lawns at the gate
As we reluctantly finished our exploration, we recounted our day - starting with fox/heron and grebe before even reaching Gull Pond Tower.
“spit full of snow geese.” quipped Anne.
“The queens of today — female mergansers.”
“All those shorebirds”
I, on doctor’s orders, had to walk every thirty minutes. So “walking with the coots was a first.”
“A preponderance of coots” - perhaps most we’ve seen in entire lives…
“A day of shoveler legs”
“Benediction of herons”
“The eagle — a thousand thousand times more important than Atlantic City”
At which point, of all things, on the last bridge between two waters, a fox came prancing right along the side of the road, all dappled in shrub shadow, bright-eyed and literally bushy-tailed, and not at all upset by these human visitors. Anne either saw one fox twice, or two in one day. I saw this one - he seemed to be there for formal farewell.
We called the fox our finale.
Fox Listening for Winter Prey, Brenda Jones
Filed Under (Activism, Agriculture, Birds, Brenda Jones, Farmland, Farms, NJ WILD, Preservation, habitat, native species, stewardship) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 05-11-2011
Red-winged Blackbird, Sunset, by Brenda Jones
NJ WILD readers know that the catalyst for all my nature experiences is birding. You may not know that I’ve been barred from it, increasingly, this year, by a mysteriously deteriorating hip.
On Wednesday, November 9, that hip will be replaced with something shiny, smooth and functional. My orthopedist insists, “We’re going to be very aggressive re rehab, because we want to get you back in the kayak and out on the trail.” And that means new stories for all of you — 1000 to 1200 per week - always a miracle to me, and greatly appreciated.
NJ WILD readers also know that D&R Greenway Land Trust preserved the St. Michael’s (Orphanage) land in Hopewell, 300+ acres that would by now hold 1200 houses, had we not raised what I recall as thirteen million dollars by the Ides of March that year. Bill Flemer, IV, of the legendary Princeton Nursery family, works for D&R Greenway now, managing the farm preserve.
The New York Times recently wrote at length about our native plant seed project there, under Bill’s, as well as Jared Rosenbaum’s, of our Native Plant Nursery. We are growing hundreds of native wildflowers there for their seed. It will be taken, in partnership with New York City’s Department of Parks and Restoration, to re-seed, reclaim the direly named Fresh Kills. You may realize that World Trade Center debris was taken to that site. Because of preservation and stewardship in your own back yard, flowers will bloom there, and blow in the wind. Flowers that belong, that will seed themselves in the sea wind…
Support your local land trust wherever you are, especially D&R Greenway.
Mockingbird Singing, by Brenda Jones
And rejoice at this recent e-bird list, thanks to Jim Amon, our Director of Stewardship, for this good news, reminding me that there are birds in our world.
St.Michael’s, Mercer, US-NJ
Nov 2, 2011 7:45 AM - 12:15 PM
Canada Goose 10
Turkey Vulture 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Kestrel 1
Mourning Dove 28
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3
Downy Woodpecker 2
Blue Jay 24
American Crow 5
Tufted Titmouse 1
Carolina Wren 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Eastern Bluebird 12
American Robin 48
Northern Mockingbird 5
European Starling 110 Estimate
Blackpoll Warbler 2
Palm Warbler (Yellow) 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 21
Chipping Sparrow 5
Field Sparrow 5
Fox Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 27
Swamp Sparrow 3
White-throated Sparrow 53
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 26
Northern Cardinal 9
Red-winged Blackbird 98 Estimate.
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 5
GREEN HERON, Brenda Jones
This bird adorned hats in the 1800s, before women began writing to honor & protect birds
Horoscopes for ‘my sign’ read, “A Sagittarian is either traveling or reading about it.”
We could personalize mine with equal intensity and possibly even more truth, “A Sagittarian is either birding or reading about it.”
Fall Migration, Geese Pass Moon, by Brenda Jones
Most people think migration season is only just starting. But many a species flew south even in what humans consider the height of summer. Birds leave according to photoperiod changes (amount of light per day). I am convinced that some, –purple martins for example–, speed up departure when their sensitive inner barometers register a hurricane in the wings.
Some people wait for migration to come to them. When I’m not watching migrants, I’m reading about it. Writers in one of the books I’ve borrowed from the D&R Greenway Land Trust nature library is Birdwatching With American Women, go seeking birds year-’round, globe-’round. Published by W. W. Norton in 1986, this lively volume is a compilation by Hopewell Editor, Deborah Strom, of first-person mostly non-fiction accounts of birding in America by women of enormous courage. The book opens with Olive Thorne Miller, born in 1831. Early images reveal that fashionistas of those years paraded Fifth Avenue and the like beneath hats adorned not only with feathers but with entire birds, many of them today’s rarities.
Pileated Woodpecker, Brenda Jones
Hat Adornment, 1800s
The editor includes (American Museum of Natural History Curator of Birds) Frank Chapman’s list of the species identified upon the heads of New York women on one day in 1886. The tragic tally includes brown thrasher, northern shrike, snow bunting, blackburnian warbler, assorted grebes and the green heron, saw whet owls and prairie hens. Quantities stun - such as sixteen bob-white, and twenty-one common terns.
Most sought-after Hat Decoration - Great Egrets, Brenda Jones
Most people realize it was the women who turned this ‘fashion’ tide, including (though not mentioned here) Lucy Audubon, wife of John James (not only our premier bird artist and early author, but also the man who invented banding at his exquisite home near Valley Forge in Pennsylvania.) At the mansion, in an upstairs room, to this day, visitors can see bird-bedecked hats catching late sunrays above Mill Grove’s fields, where John James found (and yes, shot) his specimens.
Most of the authors in this book adhere to journaling, with increasing scientific expertise, and legendary fortitude in the face of enormous extremes of terrain and weather.
Some, such as a favorite, Gene Stratton Porter, of Girl of the Limberlost fame, made her mark in fiction. Lines from her first best-seller, Freckles, say everything about why I keep urging NJ WILD readers to get out in the wild, see and save birds and their habitat:
“Nature can be trusted to work her own miracle of the heart of any [person] whose daily tasks keep him alone among her sights, sounds and silences.”
Short-eared Owl, Pole Farm, Brenda Jones
“The Sound of Silence”
The solitude some of these women endured, even relished, is simply astonishing. They ‘hang out’ in the most remote stretches of the United States and Canada, making their way on foot and by canoe and occasionally by buffeted fishing boat in all seasons, all weather. I find this especially riveting, reading of their explorations and exploits with hurricanes in the wings and the closing of Canal Road (yet again!) already announced…
Some of these essays are simply prophetic: “in 1895, Anna Comstock was named to the Committee for the Promotion of Agriculture… sponsored by philanthropists concerned about the agricultural depression and consequent migration to cities. Nature study was viewed as a means to reintroduce children to the world of the outdoors.”
Doe With Fawn, Brenda Jones
“…introduce children to the world of the outdoors…”
The editor goes on to reveal that “the nature study movement petered out during the [Great] Depression and has never been revived. Do children today study birds in school, go for nature walks with their teachers, or grow vegetables in the schoolyard? The computer has replaced nature in the classroom. Anna Comstock would be horrified.”
Home-Grown Blessings of New Jersey, cfe
Thanks to Richard Louv and Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle, however, nature is again tiptoeing into the classroom, and children are weaving vegetable planning, planting, growth and harvest into the entire array of their school subjects. Editor Strom penned her piquant question, above, back in 1986…
Louise De Kiriline Lawrence writes about the importance of nature in general, and birds in particular, to herself and to her husband, Len:
“Suddenly, a glimmer of better understanding came to me about the real meaning of the land that we had striven to possess for the realization of a dream, rather than as an end. It was real and this was the main point… The stars that penetrated the darkness of space were real, not just distant glitter. The shimmering snow sparkle was real, not tinsel. The bird was real, not an imitation nor a falsehood. The winter’s hard labor we had just experienced was performed for a real purpose, not just for gain. It had a salubrious effect upon our bodies and our minds. I had to do with life, — real life. It had to do with survival… Here, in our own wilderness, with its essence of actuality, we had a marvelous chance to probe into the meanings of this saner kind of life with its purer values.”
Louise Lawrence had been born in 1894. Even in her own lifetime, she and her husband were longing for “the saner life, with its own purer values.”
In today’s books and magazines of nature, I read similar longings.
In my experience, the only way to assure saner and healthier lives, purer values, for adults and children, for men and women, and YES, and BIRDS — is to preserve open land, preserve habitat.
What have you done for OPEN SPACE lately?
Filed Under (Activism, Amphibians, Climate Change, Destruction, Disaster, Environment, Global Climate Change, NJ WILD, Restoration, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, habitat, native species, protection, rivers, water quality) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 02-10-2011
Coursing Waters, Brenda Jones
The most impactful response I have seen to Hurricane Irene comes from Jim Waltman, Executive Director of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. Since 1949, this farsighted, crusading organization has assiduously and effectively taught us about the power, importance and threatened condition of water in our region. They have taken giant steps at every possible level to safeguard our waterways.
Now, due to accelerated climate change, it could be seen as ironic that Jim has to teach us how to protect ourselves from water!
I wrote Jim Waltman, immediately upon seeing his “Lessons from Hurricane Irene” in a number of print publications. He graciously gave me permission to share it with NJ WILD readers here and abroad. At the last tally, people are reading of nature in our region in ninety countries. Jim and the Watershed Association are masters at communication, so it is an honor to be able to extend their reach somewhat on this urgent issue.
With Jim Waltman’s kind permission. [bolds mine cfe]
Your water. Your environment. Your voice.
Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association
31 Titus Mill Road
Pennington, NJ 08534
Lessons from Hurricane Irene
A message from the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association
By: Jim Waltman, Executive Director
By any measure, Hurricane Irene was a monster. Like much of New Jersey, our watershed was hammered by rain, wind, power outages and flooding. Damages from flooding occurred in almost every corner of our 265-square-mile watershed, and in all 26 towns within our region of central New Jersey. The boroughs were hit particularly hard, with large portions of Manville, Millstone and Hightstown under literally feet of water.
The Millstone River and Stony Brook both reached all-time record high levels in various places, each merging with the Delaware & Raritan Canal for a portion of their journeys, and numerous lakes spilled over their banks. Our hearts go out to the thousands of people who lost property, businesses or, worst of all, loved ones in this storm.
Normal Autumn Waters, Brenda Jones
As we near the end of yet another wet week, those of us at the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, central New Jersey’s first environmental group, feel an even greater than usual urgency.
While Hurricane Irene was a true “outlier,” –an enormous storm that would have caused massive flooding and damage no matter what we did to prevent it–, climate scientists are telling us that our region is most likely going to continue to get wetter and wetter (except of course during periods of prolonged drought, which are also likely to become more severe). This means that, –unless we change our mindset, behaviors and policies–, we may be living our future.
However, hope is not lost. Together we can make a difference:
First, we need to stop making the problem worse. Ill-conceived developments near streams and within wetlands, not only damage our supply of clean water and destroy important wildlife habitat, they also dramatically increase the risk of flood damage to homes and businesses.
‘Our’ Towpath After an August Deluge cfe
Since 1949, the Watershed Association has sought to reverse that tide. In Cranbury, we are working closely with the Township Committee, Planning Board and Environmental Commission to secure a new ordinance to prohibit new development and [prevent] the clearing of native vegetation near streams. We are working with Hopewell Township to secure a new ordinance to protect our forests, which help absorb and slowly release rain and snow, and hold soil in place with deep root systems that stabilize streambanks and reduce erosion.
We also need to recommit ourselves to preserving open space along stream corridors and steep slopes as a means of both reducing floodwaters and keeping people out of harm’s way from future Irenes.
Water Fury, Brenda Jones
Second, we need to start fixing the mistakes of the past. Developments built before any significant regulation to contain stormwater can be retrofitted to retain runoff and allow it to percolate into our water supply. For example, the redevelopment of the Princeton Junction train station in West Windsor offers the opportunity to fix flooding issues there caused by acres and acres of impervious paved parking.
Peaceful Skies, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association Trail Walk, cfe
In nearby Princeton we are working to investigate what can be done to reduce the flooding of Harry’s Brook. It’s not too late to correct past mistakes.
We also need to recognize that it makes sense to move or remove some structures that were built near water bodies and have been repeatedly damaged by flooding. The state’s “Blue Acres” program, a cousin of the more familiar Green Acres Program, provides funding to purchase such flood prone properties. With bold action, we can prevent unmitigated development from contaminating and depleting our surface and ground water, and creating additional flood hazards.
We wish those still suffering the aftermath of Hurricane Irene a quick and full recovery.
Interviews with Executive Director Jim Waltman are available upon request.
Contact Communications Director Gwen McNamara at (609) 737-3735 x16 or
firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an interview.
The Hobbit Tree - Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association Trail Walk cfe
The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association is central New Jersey’s first environmental group, protecting clean water and the environment through conservation, advocacy, science and education.
Since 1949, the Watershed Association has served a 265-square-mile region drained by the Stony Brook
and Millstone River and spanning 26 towns and five counties. To learn more, visit www.thewatershed.org.
Filed Under (Activism, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, D&R Canal & Towpath, Environment, Preservation, habitat, protection, raptors, stewardship, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 31-07-2011
American Bald Eagle and Sculler in Lake Carnegie Fog — Brenda Jones
Recently, my sister, Marilyn Weitzel, visited from Chicago. One of the unexpected bonuses of her visit was that I was able to show her the first-year nest of Princeton’s eagles. I had been monitoring wing-exercises by two immature American bald eagles for some weeks, until her arrival. Then other wings, as in airline, took precedence.
“Princeton’s” Eagle, Profile, Brenda Jones - Lake Carnegie
It was nothing short of a miracle, –although I have been taken to task for poetic license on this score –, to find the dark healthy youngsters assiduously flapping, evening after evening, as I slightly altered my homeward commute to include their nest above the D&R Canal and Lake Carnegie.
Friendly Sky of ‘Our’ Eagle, Brenda Jones, above Lake Carnegie
All winter, my sister had been monitoring the two eagle cams, Decorah, Iowa, near her, and our own Duke Farms eagle nest. Hers launched three youngsters, ours two. Marilyn actually witnessed the ‘pipping’, then hatching of the third Decorah egg. I took her along Mapleton to see our eagles’ new nest, apologizing that they’d recently fledged and that we wouldn’t find anything except where they had been.
‘Our’ Eagles in Courting Season, Brenda Jones
On the contrary, in the oddly cup-shaped nest, nestled in the scraggly evergreen, there was one of our newest eagles, calmly adorning a branch on the left. Miracle of miracles, another birder stopped, screeched to a halt, jumped out, tugged out his scope and showed my sister - in her first glimpse through a scope, a close-up view of that white-stippled very dark first-year eagle back. What are the chances of something like that…
Princeton’s 2011 Immature Eagles, Brenda Jones
ZERO, if it weren’t for all your local non-profits, such as D&R Greenway and Friends of Princeton Open Space and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, who saved these waters and lands so that eagles could safely nest, lay eggs, raise and fletch young, and all could fish healthily.
‘Our’ Eagle Gathering Nest Materials, Brenda Jones
Last night, re-reading Aldo Leopold (Lawrenceville School illustrious alum, essentially founder of ecology and the conservation ethic in our time), I came across the word “numenon.” He explains this concept as being “the imponderable essence of a place,” as expressed in some electrifying fauna. For Leopold, numenons could be anything from a mighty and elusive trout in a high Rocky Mountain Stream, to the last grizzly. His legendary essay on shooting the last mature wolf in his Sand country, watching “the green fire die in her eyes”, as one of her several pups dragged a useless leg off into the underbrush, is the most effective on numenons, as well as the most inescapable call for awareness, honor and preservation of wild creatures, I have ever encountered.
One of the Parent Eagles of Princeton, Autumn, Brenda Jones
I suddenly realized, Princeton’s eagles are our numenons.
Here is a too brief reference of some time ago, written on this, yes, miracle in our midst. as immortalized over and over for NJ WILD readers by Brenda Jones.
Scene of Breeding/Nesting Landscape of ‘Princeton’ Eagles — Brenda Jones
As many of you realize, Brenda Jones, photographer, is a key partner in our blogging journeys. I met her, and her art-supportive husband, Cliff, one evening on the D&R Canal Towpath. We were all three tracking the beavers near the Mapleton Road fishing bridge. They introduced me to our beavers, which nocturnal creatures I have since discovered at first light and last, on my own. But nothing matches that first encounter with Brenda and Cliff.
Beaver of Mapleton Aqueduct, Close-Up, Brenda Jones
Ever since, we have shared words and images. Brenda actually undertakes photoquests for me, tied to upcoming posts. Asked for an eagle in straight flight to accompany yesterday’s “Beyond Red, White and Blue,” Brenda quickly dispatched this spectacular view. It deserves its own post.
In addition, Brenda reports on the eagles of Princeton. Miraculously, for years now, they have successfully nested, laid and hatched eggs, and fledged young on the hem of Lake Carnegie, at the wild crossroad of Harrison Street and Route 1. Thank you, Brenda and Cliff!
Princeton’s Immature American Bald Eagles, 2011, Brenda Jones
I just finished reading the present article and see how it ends with your eagle encounter. The juvenile has definitely fledged and my husband had seen the adult and juvenile on the David Sarnoff sign, teasing because there is not way to get a photo from that point, since one can’t stand on Route 1 and we aren’t allowed to walk on the property. But the juvenile may be flying now which is really exciting.
Juvenile Eagle Flying off with Fish, March, 2011 - before 2011’s hatched: Brenda Jones
Filed Under (Activism, Adventure, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brigantine Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, Cape May, Climate Change, Environment, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Pine Barrens, Preservation, South Jersey, Weather, books, habitat, native species, protection, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 22-07-2011
Dike Road to Infinity, by Sharon Olds, Brigantine/Forsythe Wildlife Refuge
Multiple Views to South, Brigantine/Forsythe — Sharon Olds
See bottom of article re this week’s osprey chick rescue, thanks to Citizens United, re Fortescue on Delaware Bayshores. If any of you are at ‘the Brig’ this week, I wish you’d report to me in comments on its many osprey nests.
Vigilant Osprey, Brigantine in May, cfe
NJ WILD readers know I used to write nature articles for the Packet, US 1, West Windsor-Plainsboro News, Jersey Sierran and New Jersey Countryside magazine. For the magazine, an article,”Pinelands by Secret Roads”, was accompanied by a ‘box’ with the following information concerning birding gear.
If you’re nature-starved, as I am, as America fries this climate-changed July, one ideal jaunt is the Brigantine Wildlife Refuge, also called Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, at Smithville, north of Atlantic City. It’s ideal in this heat-wave because you can, in fact - for the birds’ sake, are encouraged to, STAY IN YOUR CAR. You’ll be treated to rarities, from my most recent first sandhill-crane spotting to migratory flocks, –yes, certain long-legged shorebirds already flocking, to these protected reaches crucial to the Atlantic Flyway.
‘The Brig’ provides a shimmering eight-mile excursion, taken at 10 to 15 mph, along dike roads between impoundments of varying salinities. The waters are managed so that aquatic plants can grow which provide nourishment and shelter for specific species of water birds. ‘The Brig’ is particularly significant in spring and fall migration (the latter of which starts now.)
Across Absecon Bay, Atlantic City rises like Atlantis, and sometimes mercifully disappears in fog or blizzard… remember blizzards? Next to it is the inexplicable ever-whirring wind farm, smack in the middle of birds’ essential flyways.
Great Egret taking off at Brigantine, by Brenda Jones
Let Atlantic City jolt you into remembering the urgency of land preservation in our state.
Besides being beautiful, ‘The Brig’ is healthy and safe for birds on their critical journeys. It will provide ideal habitat for you, too, in what Europeans call ‘The Dog Days.’ Turn them into ‘The Bird Days’ and watch rare shorebirds, ducks, waders and brilliant fliers such as the northern harrier, from the air-conditioned comfort of your car.
Even in the car, however, staying hydrated is key. The hiker’s maxim is, “A pint an hour under 90; a quart an hour, over.”
Snowy Egret feeding at Brigantine, by Brenda Jones
When you are birding outdoors - the norm - (although I can now find the Princeton eagles from my car), here is the list of gear requested by New Jersey Countryside Magazine:
(the idea is comfort, safety and information/knowledge)
Binoculars or monocular; scope, if your lucky. Light-gathering optics are ideal in early light and last…
Guidebooks: Roger Tory Peterson’s, Audubon Guides, all David Allen Sibley
Water: 1 pt./hour under 90 degrees; 1 quart/hr. over
Hat with beak (hides our eyes from the birds, remember – we appear to them as predators); hat also essential where ticks abide, as they can drop from trees. Hat crucial in searing heat.
Muted clothing that does not rustle or squeak
Wind jacket, wind pants useful to have on hand - but that’s more crucial in winter birding.
Comfortable supportive water-resistant shoes/boots
“Wicking” socks with special padding at heel and foot
Long sleeves, left down (re ticks/Lyme disease)
Long pants tucked in to high socks (ditto)
Excellent insect repellant
Good regional maps - the best is available at Marilyn Schmidt’s Buzby’s General Store, at crossroads of 532 and 563 in Chatsworth, the heart of the Pine Barrens. My dear friend, Marilyn designed and publishes this map of South Jersey/Pinelands, and it’s taught me everything I know about back roads. Her shop is full of guides to birds, plants, foods, lingo, history, churches and gravestones, the Jersey Devil, and so forth. It is also for sale, so here’s your chance to leave hurly-burly behind and live in an historic haven. (It’s on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.)
BIRDING SITES in Pinelands
Brigantine, Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge
Route 47 around Goshen for eagles
Whitesbog bogs for herons, egrets, willets; winter’s tundra swans and snow geese
BEGINNER BIRDS to look for in the Pinelands
Great blue heron – tall, gangly, blue-grey, wades in water, swallows fish and other prey alive, head first
Egrets – rangy, tall, graceful, similar to herons, also wade, also swallow fish whole
Osprey – “fish hawk”– masked, look for untidy osprey nests on platforms; dives, grasps prey in talons, flies off with it, often carries to mate, to chicks, good luck to see “osprey packing a lunch”
Red-tailed hawk – raptor of edges – likes tall trees, broad fields, high flight and strong ‘stoops’ (swoops onto prey) look for sunlight in red tail
Brant – goose-like, elegant, black with white necklace, lovely murmuring sound
Ducks – every color, size, shape and variety at Brig and Smithville ponds, year-round
Osprey in flight, by Brenda Jones
FROM CITIZENS UNITED:
Sometimes your day doesn’t go quite as planned. For Brian Johnson, CU member and Preserve Manager at the Natural Land Trust’s Glades Wildlife Refuge, today was one of those days.
Last night’s high winds led to reports of downed osprey nests in Fortescue which led to a flurry of phone calls and emails, and Brian happened to be closest to the action. He found the fallen natural nest, slogged over 800 yards through the marsh on foot, and was able to retrieve two healthy medium sized chicks. Working with others, Brian identified two foster nests, where he skillfully relocated the birds to new families.
Another much larger nest in Fortescue also blew down, and Brian checked that one, too. Sadly, it was too late for the chicks there, which were crushed by the huge nest when it collapsed on top of them. This nest was in a platform and should have been maintained by human intervention to a smaller size. In this case, the winds took care of that, and the the very same adult osprey that lost their young still had plenty of nest to work with, and seem to have willingly adopted one of the displaced chicks.
Brian has offered to keep an eye on the nest, as this pair of adults has a propensity to build too large. He can downsize it when they are wintering in South America. We aren’t sure who is responsible for this nest but are thrilled with Brian’s willingness to help.
Many thanks to those who helped on the ground and with ideas and information, especially Ben Wurst of Conserve Wildlife Foundation, who provided a great deal of guidance. As it happened, Jane Morton Galetto was at an Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Committee meeting when she recieved word from CU Trustee Tony Klock who had read about the fallen nests on Facebook in a post by CU member Steve Byrne. Jane conferred about fostering the birds to other nests with Kathy Clark of the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife and Veterinarian Erica Miller of Tri State Bird Rescue, also a CU member, who were at the same meeting. Tony remained in contact with Brian as he rescued the birds and helped identify foster nests.
Thank you for your heroic efforts, Brian, and thanks again to all involved.
Filed Under (Animals of the Wild, Birds, Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, Brenda Jones, Butterflies, Climate Change, Global Climate Change, Migratory Flocks, NJ, NJ WILD, Nature, Nature Writing, New Jersey, Preservation, Trees, Weeds, habitat, stewardship) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 03-07-2011
Drama in Your Own Backyard
Fox Listening for Vole, Pole Farm, Brenda Jones
NJ WILD readers know my enthusiasm for everything wild, everything nature in our state, which is far more beautiful, natural and wild than anyone realizes.
Fierce Great Blue Heron, Brenda Jones
You’re also pretty familiar with my choice in reading: anything about nature, especially New Jersey, and always lately, catastrophic climate change. Now even the Weather Channel is admitting that “This year, everything is a record.” Of course, they’re still blaming that on Mother Nature, not on human greed…
Never lose sight of the importance of countering climate change - particularly for the sake of New Jersey’s wildflowers and elegant pollinators:
Cabbage White Butterfly Nectaring, Brenda Jones
On the subject of that partnership, a new publication crossed my D&R Greenway Land Trust desk this week. It’s the spring newsletter of The Native Plant Society of New Jersey: www.npsnj.org. They were kind enough to give inside front cover placement to a vivid description of our April Native Plant Sale here, which was so well attended and patronized. Princetonians are eagerly taking to heart our Native Plant Nursery’s lessons on natives in the home garden.
Dogbane/Indian Hemp Brenda Jones
Pamela Ruch authored the newsletters column, titled Learning Tolerance for Native Weeds. Her first line grabbed me: “Keeping a field journal is a discipline that does not come easily to me.” Frankly, it never occurred to me. Even though a birder, I am not ‘a lister’, what the Brits call ‘a twitcher’. But wouldn’t it be grand to have a notebook chronicling the arrival of each flowery sign of spring, against which to compare next year and next year and next year? Admittedly, it could give evidence of catastrophic climate change. But how valuable and pleasurable such a diary would be! And the process carries hidden benefits at many levels.
Pamela discovered that “observing, drawing, putting details into words,” she made surprising discoveries. Such as the fact that many of the plants that we term ‘weeds’ are native plants, not to be sneezed at, pun intended.
Yellow Warbler with Insect, Brenda Jones
Your plants that feed the insects feed the birds and their young…
NJ WILD readers have ‘heard’ me ad infinitum on the value of native plants. Our Stewardship Staff here at D&R Greenway spend hours ‘in the field’ in all seasons and most weathers save ice, removing invasives and planting natives.
Black Swallowtail Among the Loosestrife (Invasive…), Brenda Jones
One of the main reasons for doing so is that native plants evolved with our regional animals and insects. Our Stewardship Staff has taught me that, if you see leaves uneaten in the fall, they’re invasives and of no use to the creatures who evolved to be nourished and sheltered by them.
Other reasons include the fact that natives can withstand drought, as intensifying climate change renders this facet more and more crucial.
Natives can better deal with other extremes, as well, such as needing less water and less nourishment, because they were ‘born’ to these soils.
The one factor with which natives cannot deal is invasives, who crowd out everyone by a whole ‘raft’ of means and measures. Who, having no enemies here, soon eliminate even young hardwoods. Japanese stilt grass alone can prevent the hardwood forests of our future.
Native plants attract pollinators, such as butterflies, worthy rivals of the vivid flowers upon which they suckle, then go on to propagate.
Courting Cabbage Whites, Brenda Jones
Our compromised bees need the flowers of native plants, as well
Birds need natives as nest sites, as well as food suppliers.
Puffed December Mockingbird, with Berries, Brenda Jones
Migrant birds depend upon inner compasses, forged millenia ago. You could see birds as winged GPS systems. Birds chose their routes in ancient times, based on the presence, for example, of native berries.
Ripe native fruit, signaled by early red leaves, provides crucial calories/stamina/sustenance/energy for autumn migration.
Birds count upon native insects, who count on native plants in spring migration, and to feed vulnerable young after successfully breeding here.
Home gardens can be as important as woods and fields to certain avian species.
And, according to Native Plant Society of New Jersey’s columnist, Pamela Ruch, if you keep a Field Journal of your garden, you’ll make discoveries: What the French call la richesse, richness, of plants will be revealed, that you never otherwise might have known. She writes, for example, of discovering, describing and researching wild lettuce, which provides pollen for bees and seeds for finches.
Pamela reports a major advantage of Field Journaling: “I took away a more thoughtful posture toward my landscape.” She vows not to focus so exclusively upon her “garden vision that I would refuse [natives] space to provide for the many creatures, seen and unseen, that live among us. I will also try to refrain, starting now, from calling them ‘weeds’.” …Noble discoveries and declarations which any of us can emulate, for the betterment of the natural world in New Jersey.
Golden-Shafted Flicker Feeding Young, Brenda Jones
What Pamela teaches is that, what seem weeds to us are life preservers for wild creatures. Even aged and compromised trees, become cradles for life.
Pamela ought to know: She serves as horticulturist at Morven Museum and Gardens, where the Stocktons presided before and after our sacred Revolution. You’ll likely see the fruits of her studies and labors if you visit Morven for a quiet, historic celebration of Fourth of July.
Lambertville Fourth of July, 2010, Brenda Jones
You may also meet and even purchase native species here at D&R Greenway’s Native Plant Nurseries — sometimes we sell between our major seasonal sales; and always at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve below New Hope.
Filed Under (Animals of the Wild, D&R Canal & Towpath, Delaware Bayshores, Destruction, Environment, Migratory Flocks, NJ, NJ State Parks, Native Americans, Nature, Nature Writing, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Pennsylvania, Preservation, habitat, native species, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 28-06-2011
THIS JUST IN: Steve Hiltner’s marvelous Sustainable Jazz Ensemble will be playing at Labyrinth Books every other Friday in July - July 1, 15, 29. Labyrinth is at 122 Nassau, and the music takes place downstairs. Steve’s inimitable humor assures us that “no virgin timbres are harvested for these performances.” Michael Redmond, Lifestyle and Time Off Editor of the Packet, urges, in his Packet Pick: “Be There or Be Square.” The time is 6:30, and BYO is o.k., says the Packet Pick.
On Another Note Altogether, Steve and I are in synch. I have his permission to use his Princeton Nature Notes posting on the beavers of Princeton:
Steve Hiltner, of Friends of Princeton Open Space, writes of a joyous beaver memory within a moonlit pond, hoping that such scenes “can serve as a bridge of kinship between people and nature.” Recently, that bridge was seriously shattered in our community.
I am fascinated to see results, when I Google, Princeton, Beavers, on electronic sites, showing that others are still disturbed that the lovely waters of Pettoranello Gardens proved fatal rather than life-sustaining to our Princeton beavers.
Steve maintains a charming blog, Princeton Nature Notes, which I have quoted here in the past. He officially linked to NJ WILD recently on the beaver tragedy.
Steve is also a superb musician - whose jazz last Friday graced Labyrinth Books, in their summer Friday jazz program. I so enjoyed it many Fridays last year - hearing jazz with friends surrounded by books — what could be better. Keep an eye on the Labyrinth web-site, to see when we can hear Steve’s jazz anew.
I was at the Brandywine Museum that night for Jamie Wyeth’s opening of his farm art. More to come on that after I download pictures from his father’s beloved Kuerner farm site, setting the tone for Jamie’s impeccably rendered farm creatures.
Here’s Steve’s wise reading of the beaver situation. Thanks for linking, Steve, to NJ WILD and to D&R Greenway, which shares your preservation mission in our region.
The killing of two beavers at Pettoranello Pond two weeks ago brought into the spotlight two sharply contrasting views of the animals. Beavers are adorable, and impressive in their craftsmanship. One of my most serene memories is watching a beaver swim peacefully across a moonlit pond. Their approach to living–find an auspicious spot, transform it to your needs, and make a living there–has parallels with ours, and so can serve as a bridge of kinship between people and nature.
Their inclination to change their surroundings, as in the sticks and mud they were using to obstruct water flow under this bridge, also triggers a distinctly negative view of beavers as nuisance animals. People get a pond just the way they want it, plant some pretty trees, and then a beaver comes along, changes the water level and starts eating the trees. That’s what was happening at Pettoranello Pond. Of course, if beavers are stigmatized for changing the environment, imagine what an animal community that could form and hold opinions would be thinking about us.
Beavers have been living in the canal and Lake Carnegie for a long time, and I had been wondering why they hadn’t made it up Mountain Brook to Mountain Lakes and Pettoranello Gardens. Now that they have, I’d expect more will come. My hope would be that some way could be found to accommodate the beavers while keeping the pond level stable and any valuable trees protected. There are devices that allow water through dams without the beavers being aware. In my opinion, the beavers would do Pettoranello Gardens at least one favor by thinning out its thick stands of alder along the water’s edge. If the beaver’s additions to the dam obstructed storm flow, then a spillway for heavy runoff could be dug somewhere along the bank. The pond already has a bypass upstream of it for storm surges.