Archive for July, 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
View at the Top of the Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail
Greenway Meadows Park/D&R Greenway Land Trust
by Carolyn Foote Edelmann
NJ WILD readers know that Ilene Dube, of the Packet, asked me to create this blog to include New Jersey nature, preservation and poetry. All three will combine at D&R Greenway Land Trust on the 18th of August, when U.S. 1 Newspaper’s Annual Summer Fiction Issue Party unfurls. Anyone is welcome, but call 609 924 4646 to register.
Guests may arrive at 4 for an informal walk of the Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail. At 5, Rich Rein and his staff from U.S. 1 (Business) Newspaper will host the reception and reading.
All writers will be introduced; poets will read. Find this issue on-line at www.princetoninfo.com. Papers will be provided at the reception. Guests are known to take the paper around, asking prose and poetic writers to sign ‘their page’ - the new game in town.
All events at D&R Greenway further awareness and preservation of nature. Where would the poets be without the wild… But you have heard this often enough from me. Imagine: It has taken D&R Greenway twenty two years to save twenty two miles of our New Jersey.
Part of our preservation is Greenway Meadows, upon which our 1900 barn, once Robert Wood Johnson’s, serves as fulcrum. We are at One Preservation Place, off Rosedale, between Elm Road/the Great Road and Province Line Road.
A literary treasure exists in our preserved Greenway Meadows, managed by Princeton Township. The Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail, launched last autumn, winds up a hill from which one can see the Sourland Mountains to the west. This trail is studded with poems. Many of these signs flanked their authors who read during recent D&R Greenway poetic treks. On August 18, guests may read for themselves, often sitting upon natural wood sculpture-benches, to contemplate the nature enshrined there.
It is a miracle to me that a business newspaper turns over two issues each year, for fifteen years, to creativity. Salute Rich Rein, whose brilliant idea this is. And join him, his staff and D&R Greenway to hear this year’s poets celebrate our region - not only its nature.
Borrowing Ted Cross’s Beach Scene of Red Knots - Nearly Lost to Us
We met Red Knots on Cape Cod
When your NJ WILD nature reporter worked in corporate America, she had a very powerful, soft-spoken boss, who had lived in many countries, from birth. Consequently, he read and spoke in many languages, a rarity indeed in that setting! One day, when I’d known him about a year, he was speaking of one of his homelands. I dared ask, “But, when you are homesick, where are you homesick for?”
I have never seen an expression more forlorn than his at that moment. He honestly did not know. And I had witnessed an unexpected form of homelessness.
Provincetown Dawn by my Teen-Aged Daugher, Catherine Lynne Edelmann
from my photograph near Anne Packard, Artist’s, dock
Remembering that encounter, I ask NJ WILD readers, (ungrammatically, I admit), “Where are you homesick for?”
You know my always yearning for Provence.
You may realize that Cornwall and Brittany and Mt. St. Michel always tug at me.
You don’t know that I am never homesick for Ohio (birthplace) nor Michigan (despite being in love with the Upper Peninsula and Leelanau) - Michigan is not home, no matter what officials might say on this score.
I picked up Henry Beston’s “The Outermost House” an hour ago. Its cover image of that little cottage swept me with homesickness.
This made me realize, when I am homesick, I am homesick for our tiny grey shingled cottage on Harding’s Beach, facing Nantucket Sound, in Chatham, Cape Cod.
What is homesickness?
A need to return, to re-experience both peace and belonging.
Chatham turned me into a birder, as my daughters turned into teen-agers.
All of us hiked to Harding’s Beach Light, taking the hard sand one way and the high road through heathered dunes the other way, and sometimes singing songs such as “When The Mist is in the Gloaming” as we roamed.
Chatham was wide open windows and curtains drifting over bodies just drying from after-swim showers and chowder simmering in the tiny airy kitchen and lobsters on the smooth worn maple table in the windowed tiny dining room facing the Sound.
Chatham was fires crackling from salt in the logs, sending tiny stars up the chimney with smoke and sparks.
Chatham was reading the wrack line every morning, the newspaper of the Sound. One night had been a bad one for horseshoe crabs. Another for ‘mermaid’s purses’. Skate egg cases laced around our toes as we half ran, half danced in the skimming waves to the light.
Chatham was reading about a long-tailed jaeger in our first Peterson’s (Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America), then watching one erupt from behind the last dune before the light.
Chatham was reading that crows make a terrible commotion when an eagle is around, then hearing the cacophony as we watched the eagle make it back to our house from the light in about six wingbeats.
Chatham was electrifying fog that swirled in the open doors of Monomoy Theatre, as we waited for the Shakespeare of that week, or to hear ‘good old Uncle Arthur’ Foote’s American chamber music all night long. Fog crawled up stage steps, purling across the stage, adding to the magic of that evening’s performance.
Chatham was our gateway to birding Orleans and arting at Wellfleet and biking and Portugese feasting at the Moors in bountiful Provincetown, whose sunrise Catherine immortalized at 16 and Princeton Day School gave her painting a prize and wanted to buy it.
Chatham was timelessness with books and often friends, our bodies enlivened and caressed by breezes and salt air, healed from our long harsh off-Cape winter lives….
My boss of long ago doesn’t have a Chatham to miss. If I could see him now, I’d ask, “Have you found somewhere for which to be homesick?”
Where are YOU homesick for?
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.
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.
NJ Wild readers know I used to write long and colorful nature articles for the Packet, for US 1 (Business) Newspaper and occasionally, West Windsor Plainsboro News. Jersey Sierran and New Jersey Countryside also published nature pieces of mine, back in the days when print journalism was thriving and free-lancing was an exhilirating profession.
Here’s a long story of those golden days, covering favorite near-Princeton walks, bearable on the blistering days. Be very aware, everyone, that without preservation organizations, such as D&R Greenway, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Friends of Princeton Open Space, Montgomery Friends of Open Space, we wouldn’t have these dappled places to restore ourselves. Shall I dare to mention the cc word? - and flee catastrophic climate change!
Preserved land absorbs CO2 - but you all know that. I don’t know why the government does not.
Miracle-worker Brenda Jones inserted images for us, to convey visual enticement to our readers. I’ve walked these woods in all seasons, and could not name a favorite. What is yours?
“The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep”:
Cool Walks for Blistering Days
You’re psyched for a hike, but the Weather Channel reports temperatures over 90º. What to do? You’re in luck! The Princeton region abounds in sites offering cool walks despite blistering days.
It helps to get out on trails at first light or last. Birders and photographers know to choose times of low sun for best results. As the “Dog Days” of August approach, early and late become your best friends. Named for Sirius, the Dog Star, –which rises in that month–, I would watch the Provençals, gesturing furiously, castigate the entire season that they call “La Canicule”, (from Latin word for dog). In the South of France, this is a time of increased madness, of wildfires in pine and oak woods. For the entire interval of “La Canicule” 1988, firefighters camped out on our L’Observatoire Hill above Cannes — good chance to practice my French. No shade anywhere, then! Least of all in the charred (even the roots!) Esterel Forest, where I had become seriously sunburnt that January. As Global Warming creeps on its far-from-petty pace, this searing time could tempt you to bark.
In Princeton’s Dog Days the rule of thumb becomes, “Be out there when sun’s below treeline.” This is easy along the D&R Canal Towpath, which my employers, D&R Greenway Land Trust, were created to save for our overpopulated state. The canal was a vital commercial artery, now a New Jersey State Park. However, at all hours, in our mercifully wooded region, there are nearby hiking havens. Here you can literally escape heat, enhance fitness, experience wild beauty without absolutely wilting.
My benchmark for temperature relief is New Jersey Audubon’s Plainsboro Preserve. If I were giving Cool Stars, its beechwood haven earns the full five. Four, I award to Community Park North, — especially John Witherspoon Woods, thanks the vigilance and preservation successes of Friends of Princeton Open Space and the Princeton Garden Club. Three stars go to Shipetaukin Woods, just over the line in Lawrence Township, with its shy and melodious Shipetaukin Brook. Two Cool Stars are earned by our Towpath, –with the exception of areas along Carnegie Lake. (Its dredging removed venerable tree cover, so lakeside walks this time of year can feel like forced marches on a griddle.) Of course, the all-time best way to be cool near the towpath is to kayak along the canal, especially south from Princeton Canoe and Kayak on Alexander Road.
Lovely, Dark and Shallow, thanks to Brenda Jones
Your first steps, alongside McCormack Lake (former gravel pit, now waterbird heaven) are along its sandy entrance road, admittedly exposed to sun. A trail beckons to the left almost immediately. Take it to enter the beechwood. In any season, there is a significant ‘change in the weather’. Its moderation is a welcome 12 to 15 degrees, –cooler in summer; warmer in winter. In this enchanted forest gleam frail white Indian pipes. These saprophytes are haunting in the dappled dimness, plants that thrive without chlorophyll. Their dark ruddy relative, beech drops, erupt here and there, nourished by submerged long-dead beech trunks.
In the Packet’s glossy magazine, you recently were treated to a superb color picture and story, by Anthony Stoeckert, about the spirit behind Plainsboro Preserve, Sean Grace. Intensely knowledgeable about wild plants and wild creatures, with an artist’s sense for the beautiful (he sometimes leads sketching walks), there is no better guide to the gentle wilds of Plainsboro Preserve than Sean.
Plainsboro Preserve in summer is a place for atmosphere and escape, more than adding to your life lists of birds and plants. Winter is the time for the rarest of their 150 species of birds to take center stage. Threatened and endangered plants are proudly listed at Plainsboro, although seldom encountered on ordinary excursions. Maps and announcements at entry reveal a broad spectrum of guided family activities, including owl prowls and backcountry wildflower quests.
Trail blazes on trees are plentiful and clear. The white trail segues into the red which curves into the yellow, looping back to the white. Take them all in the ‘Dog Days’, with shade as your companion. Blue takes you out onto the peninsula in 50-acre McCormack Lake, the former quarry. There, you’ll hike among fragrant bayberry shrubs, above reindeer lichen and other green growing things you’d have to drive all the way to Island Beach State Park to discover. However, the peninsula is sun-exposed. (No swimming, fishing, dogs nor bikes in this Preserve.)
Directions - Scudders Mill Road East, off Route 1; North/left on Dey Road; West/left at light at Scott’s Corner Road. South/left into park at small sign on right. Open sunup to sundown, locked otherwise.
Community Park North, John Witherspoon Woods:
Here’s the place for woods truly “lovely, dark and deep”. They face you as soon as you lock your car in the parking lot. Trails lead north and south. North (near what used to be our Shakespeare Theatre) is more exposed. Blazes are sparse, but trails well utilized, so that you can follow your feet. This preserve can be very wet after continuous rain. South trail lifts you onto a paved road, toward Mountain Lakes House. In no time, you not only do not hear Route 206 any longer – you forget there is any such thing as traffic. You might even forget sun. Some days in Princeton, as in Provence, sun can be enemy, woods your only defense.
For darkest woods, turn right at pathways into John Witherspoon Woods. After crossing a stream or two, you may be blessed by the great horned owl (early or late), or the privilege of wood thrush chorus. Henry David Thoreau’s favorite bird, the thrush is becoming increasingly scarce in our region, as deer browse destroys its essential understory.
Evocative rocks outline well maintained, but somewhat rough, trails. Occasional water crossings are abetted by convenient logs and rocks. Trekking poles are useful, but not required. Inescapable sun does erupt on the road and in the gas line clearing. The large body of (dammed) water lures (too many) geese. Obvious trails wheel in all directions, granting profound escape from ‘civilization’, as well as from rays.
Directions - 206 North (toward Township Police Station); right/north jughandle for Mountain Avenue; right/west at large sign, into generous parking area.
Three trails diverge in a greenwood. Take center or left, both clearly blazed. Even at entry, edge-habitat birds abound. They are near and unbothered enough by your presence in this secret enclave that you can study them without optics. Inside the forest, sun is blessedly swallowed. You’re knee-deep in ferns, among jack-in-the-pulpits to your hips. Tracking, you read fawn tenuousness, stag certainty; you step between raccoon prints. Look for turtles and waterstriders along the winking creek. This is a small walk, but dense. Tree blazes tend to be few and far between. It’s near enough to Terhune Orchards that you can mosey on over there afterwards for cool and natural refreshment. Shipetaukin reminds me of [Spencer] Tracy’s praise of Hepburn: “…Not much to her; but what there is, is cherce.”
Directions - 206 South; west/right onto Province Line Road alongside Squibb; left/south on Carson; right/west on Carter –[only one car-length!] IMMEDIATE left/south into Shipetaukin. From Princeton, small sign cannot be read. Entry road is rudimentary, narrow.
The working canal and towpath ran from New Brunswick to Bordentown. The shadiest towpath stroll is from Alexander Road South, in late afternoon and evening. One can park under trees at Turning Basin Park, across from Princeton Canoe and Kayak.
Parking at the Quaker Bridge Road/Province Line Road South (alongside Nassau Park/Wegman’s Shopping Center) provides a mercifully silent walk. Evening is best, although always less shady than the Alexander South stretch. As you come out from under Province Line Road Bridge, a scene right out of French Impressionists unfolds. Our Canal could have inspired Sisley, Pissarro, Monet and the gang, especially near Auvers-sur-Oise. Rare birds abound here, although US 1 is so near – rose-breasted grosbeak, green heron, yellow-shafted flicker, evening grosbeak, great-crested flycatcher, hawks often aloft.
Be warned: The most sun-exposed stretch of the D&R Canal and Towpath is the one we know best, Harrison Street and on north.
Brenda Jones Captures Cool
Other shady opportunities include the Institute Woods (park and enter near the adolescent Mercer Oak, on Mercer Street south of town; or on Alexander near the Canal). Celebrated in birding guides, this nature mecca shelters wood thrushes, occasional pileated woodpeckers. However, severe deer browse has had its way with this understory, seriously reducing bird and wildflower populations.
North of town, Herrontown Woods and Autumn Hill Reservation beckon shade-seekers. Herrontown Road leads direct to Autumn Hill; take Herrontown Road to Snowden Lane to reach Herrontown Woods. Both preserves can be exceedingly wet after lengthy rain. Each offers cool density, intriguing rocks, towering trees and bird richness.
In John Masefield’s words, you may be “tired of brick and stone, and rumbling wagon wheels.” If so, seek out Princeton area woods, “full of the laugh of the leaves and the song the wind sings.” Even on blistering days.
http://www.canoenj.com/prince1.htm Princeton Canoe and Kayak
http://www.nynjctbotany.org/njnbtofc/shipetaukinwdstr.html Shipetaukin Woods Trail
http://www.dandrcanal.com/gen_info.html D&R Canal State Park
http://www.fopos.org/achievements.html Friends of Princeton Open Space re various outdoor ops available because of their vigilance in preservation.
http://www.njaudubon.org/Centers/Plainsboro/ Plainsboro Preserve
http://www.princetontwp.org/herron.html Herrontown Woods
http://www.princetontwp.org/authill.html Autumn Hill Reservation
http://www.princetontwp.org/instwoods.html Institute Woods
Brenda and Cliff Jones spent 5 hours in the historic town of Roebling, absorbing and photographing restored and preserved industrial realities — She surprised me by taking and inserting these images, to give you the flavor of my sister’s and my River Days.
The Expansive Delaware, by Brenda Jones
The Delaware River came to our rescue on a day of high clouds and implacable sky. My Chicago sister, Marilyn, wanted an ocean adventure. But it was not in the cards. Always blessed in our sisterhood, Marilyn and I wring together days out of each year, despite miles, our intense professional lives, and increasing airport-discouragements. The last NJ WILD readers heard of our memorable time together was when Marilyn lured me west to take that splendid Twilight Steamboat upon the Mississippi, at the height of autumn floods.
Now, her main wish while here was a day at Island Beach, threading tall dunes studded with bayberry and beach plum, holly and heather, trekking west in white silk sand rimmed by a weathered split-rail fence to Barnegat Bay, then east and upwards to the electrifying Atlantic herself. But it was not to be.
A detail not known to Midwesterners such as we, until viciously experienced, is that you cannot visit Atlantic beaches when there’s a land breeze. Our I.B. Day was forecast as, and proved to be, just that. W/SW, 5 to 10 mph. Dawn showed more of the same, actually from Maine to who-knows-where. Land breeze, to inform landlubbers from elsewhere, means hordes of biting insects, starting with black flies and descending to voracious mosquitoes. Once, on my way to the Spizzle Creek bird blind at I.B., the legs of my (foolish, yes, we admit it) guest and I, who had neglected to wear long
pants, were covered with ravening mosquitoes as though we were wearing black tights. You’ve heard of “once bitten, twice shy.” Try 2000-bitten… We started trembling, in what we later learned may have been a form of anaphylactic shock from insect venom.
No WAY was I taking my sister to feed the insects of Island Beach.
What do you do in New Jersey, when its shore is inaccessible and unacceptable?
Seek that other noble body of water, our Delaware River. It’s possible to
take 295 South to the Roebling exit, and begin there to follow history and that exquisite tidal water from near to us, as we did, all the way to Riverton, above Camden.
Winking and splashing, ‘Del’ made her way to the sea, leading two Great-Lakes-blessed Michiganders, hungry for ‘big water.’
Delaware River as Playground, by Brenda Jones
Ours was a day of intriguing and evocative houses — from those of riverboat captains presiding above Delaware banks in Riverton to rows of enlightened workers’ housing created by the Roeblings for those who turned out their impeccable wire rope to sustain bridges from Brooklyn and Washington to Golden Gate.
The game was to stay as close to the Delaware River as possible, all the while moving south. Early on, I learned that Monday is not the best day for randoming about along the river. Every lunch op was closed with the exception of the handsome, reliable, vibrant Madison Pub in Riverside. It’s the oldest continuously operating pub in New Jersey, spiffed to the nth degree, and legendary for hamburgers of Angus as memorable as anything I’ve had with my sister in Chicago.
In most river towns, all of which used to be connected under canvas, when the Delaware was our only ‘highway’, one must enter at the top, then drive one-way south, to stay along the banks.
Facsimile Streetlights at Roebling River Line Train Station
by Brenda Jones
Burlington is redolent of centuries far before our revolution, including a replica of the office where those who managed West Jersey [when we were The Jerseys], regularly convened. Brick sidewalks vie with cobblestones to bring back the sights, sounds and footing of yesteryear. Tipped tombstones tantalize with names, dates and stories weathered by centuries.
My favorite is Riverton, with its row upon row of tidy homes, each with its own unique, family-tended garden. Its green Victorian yacht club is worth the journey, as are captain’s homes with widows’ walks which rise in consummate stateliness all along the river.
Roebling Inn, which rents apartments! Facing Delaware River, by Brenda Jones
Man has perpetrated vile depredations upon this shimmer of water. When I moved to New Hope, in the early 1980’s, shad were rare. Wise riverside dwellers and their honest politicians, such as Peter Kostmayer, managed to have as much as possible of the Delaware named Wild and Scenic. This ended much pollution and brought back the shad, in droves. I attended the first Shad Festival, honoring that miracle of restoration and preservation.
My sister and I walked on water this week, over the Delaware, from Bull’s Island to the luminously restored Black Bass Inn on the Pennsylvania side. That entire day, we experienced the the river as playground - kayakers, swimmers, bobbers and floaters/tubers, from morning through late afternoon.
Each of us has been forced into a measure of cynicism about the world in general and America in particular, in this century.
In New Jersey’s (South Jersey’s) river towns, –normally explored on the light rail River Line, this time by car–, cynicism was replaced by awe and honor. Venerable buildings remember when Ben Franklin printed currency near where we parked our car in Burlington; where Abraham Lincoln (Blue Anchor Tavern, Burlington) ran a campaign. Restored row houses in Roebling are still redolent of the enlightened corporation that made the world better on level upon level. During the Great Depression, workers were not charged rent! Now, people work in Philadelphia and commute to Roebling on the River Line.
The Spiffy Swiss River Line Train, which connects the River Towns, by Brenda Jones
Our drive south, echoing the time of clipper ships, frequently piqued by warning signals of the spiffy River Line Light Rail, restored not only hope but even joy, in our amazing country. Appropriate, hard on the heels of the Fourth of July.
Over and over, we had to scrap the day’s plans, quite literally choose another path.
Over and over, miracles came our way.
The past is alive and well and living in the River Towns.
New Jersey is a master at restoration and preservation.
Gate to the Roebling Works, without which we wouldn’t have
Brooklyn, George Washington, Golden Gate and Riegelsville Bridges
by Brenda Jones
The trouble is, everyone always thinks our state is just that industrial morass I had to traverse to pick up and return my sister to Newark Airport…
Cherish New Jersey.
Realize her many miracles of restoration and preservation.
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.
Fog Along Delaware, Brenda Jones
This just in - good news and bad news, from Michael Redmond just now, Packet Lifestyle and Time Off Editor, who knows how I AM about NJ nature!
Rejoice in the wisdom of our state, NJ WILD readers. However, write Governor Christie to insist he sign this crucial legislation.
Do whatever you can on any and all fronts to preserve her wild spaces, including RIVERS!
See how our government protects these polluters of our sacred spaces!
bolds mine, as usual
“I’m just wild about natural destruction” cfe
American Bald Eagle Successful Dive for Fish, Brenda Jones
And No One Mentions Effects of Fracking Chemicals Upon Fish in Delaware, etc…
June 29, 2011
NEW JERSEY STATE LEGISLATURE FIRST IN U.S. TO PASS BILL BANNING DANGEROUS GAS DRILLING TECHNIQUE
Trenton, NJ - On Wednesday, in an unprecedented and pioneering move, New Jersey’s state legislature became the first to pass a bill to enforce a statewide ban on a controversial gas drilling technique known as fracking. The legislature was unanimously in favor of the bill, which passed the state Senate 32-1 and the Assembly 56-11.
“Today, New Jersey sent a strong message to surrounding states and to the nation that a ban on fracking is necessary to protect public health and preserve our natural resources,” said Senator Bob Gordon (D-Bergen).
“Any benefits of gas production simply do not justify the many potential dangers associated with fracking such as pollution of our lakes, streams and drinking water supplies and the release of airborne pollutants. We should not wait until our natural resources are threatened or destroyed to act. The time to ban fracking in New Jersey is now.”
Fracking involves injecting water, sand and toxic chemicals deep underground to break up dense rock formations and release natural gas. Opponents of fracking cite the high potential for water and air pollution as a leading reason to ban the practice. Over 1,000 cases of water contamination have been reported near fracking sites.
Baldpate Mountain View, Brenda Jones
(at least Baldpate itself is Preserved!)
Public opposition to fracking has escalated in recent months, with concerned residents and environmental and consumer advocacy groups campaigning against the practice in New Jersey and the surrounding states. Gas companies have been ramping up plans to drill in the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation which extends up the East Coast. Fracking operations in Pennsylvania alone are expected to create 19 million gallons of wastewater.
“Fracking is a man-made disruption to the environment, many times on large-scale proportions,” said Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen). “We’ve already seen a number of eco-casualties from this practice in surrounding states. It would be irresponsible to leave the door open for this practice to be pursued in New Jersey.”
“The New Jersey Legislature is taking the pro-active step of preventing contamination of our drinking water and environment, the only sure way to protect our residents from fracking pollution. This is a great day for the state’s present and future generations”, said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
According to Food & Water, at least 61 localities across the U.S. have passed measures against fracking. On June 16, the Trenton City Council passed a resolution calling for a statewide ban, and earlier this year, Highland Park, NJ became the first town in the country to call for a state and national ban on fracking.
“New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s signature is all that is necessary now for this critical and timely statewide ban to go into effect,” said Jim Walsh, Eastern Region Director of the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. “If he approves it, New Jersey will be the first state to stand up against the devastating environmental and public health impacts of fracking, which have wreaked havoc on other states across the U.S.”
In the Midwest, where fracking is increasingly common, residents have reported complications ranging from headaches and blackouts, noxious odors in the air and sudden blindness and hair loss among their livestock – concerns which led those living in Dish, Texas, a town located near 11 natural gas compression stations, to hire a private environmental consultant to sample the air. The consultant found that it contained high levels of neurotoxins and carcinogens, including benzene.
A 2011 Cornell University study found that the process of fracking also releases methane, which according to the EPA, is 21 times more damaging greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Similarly, a study released by researchers at Duke University in April found methane levels in shallow drinking water wells near active gas drilling sites at a level 17 times higher than those near inactive ones.
“This bill is a great victory for clean water in New Jersey and we believe it will be a national model,” said Jeff Tittel Director NJ Sierra Club. “We hope this bill sends a message to the governor to oppose fracking in the Delaware Basin and protect New Jersey waters.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. House and Energy Commerce Committee determined that 14 oil companies had injected 780 million gallons of fracking chemicals and other substances into U.S. wells between 2005 and 2009. This included 10.2 million gallons of fluids containing known or suspected carcinogens.
The companies, however, are not required to disclose the chemicals in fracking fluid, which they claim should be protected as a “trade secret”. They are also exempt from seven major federal environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act.
Scientists at the Endocrine Disruption Exchange who tested fracking fluids found that 25 percent can cause cancer; 37 percent can disrupt the endocrine system; and 40 to 50 percent can affect the nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems.
Earlier this month Food & Water Watch released a report entitled The Case for a Ban on Fracking. The report reveals that the natural gas industry’s use of water-intensive, toxic, unregulated practices for natural gas extraction are compromising public health and polluting water resources across the country.
The Case for a Ban on Fracking is available here: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/reports/the-case-for-a-ban-on-gas-fracking
A map of municipalities that have taken action against fracking is available here: