Hello – Again!
How have you been? I’ve been busy – My New Jersey Big Year has been a great adventure and gave me a new appreciation for my adopted home state.
About this time last year, I put Greg’s World on snooze patrol to allow more time for blogging and writing Facebook posts about my big year. As My New Jersey Big Year wraps up, it is a good time for me to start thinking about next year and all my other interests and hobbies that have gone wanting for time or effort.
A lot of non-birding stuff happened since last December and I can’t wait to tell you about some of the other things I’ve been up to – the local tourist in me has been busy finding and exploring new places. My interests in botany and genealogy have been rekindled, too, and I’ve got some new stuff to share.
I’ve read lots of blogs over the last several months and want to share a few of those with you. South Africa is in the news today with the passing of a great, great man – Nelson Mandela. So I’ll start off with 2Summers, a blog about life in Johannesburg, South Africa written by American Heather Mason.
I took the photo at the top of this post on a very, very cold morning last January. Sunrise is a particularly favorite time of the day for me – whether I’m enjoying a cup of coffee in my warm kitchen or watching the day awaken in a frozen field.
Everything seems possible as the morning sun creeps above the horizon.
Until next time, I hope you enjoy Heather’s blog and I would love to hear your comments. It feels great to be back!
My new blog is beginning to take shape. Won’t you check it out by following this link today?
I am beginning a new adventure – I plan to complete a Big Year in New Jersey next year.
So, what is a big year? I’ve set up a new single topic blog to keep track of my progress. You can follow me here.
I don’t know how often I’ll be posting here – as you can tell I have had a challenging time keeping up the momentum on this blog.
I hope you’ll check out my new venture – I think it’s going to be a lot of fun!
A few weeks ago I published a rememberance of family vacations spent at Cranberry Glades. Shortly after writing that article, my wife and I had the great fortune of visiting my childhood home. On the way back to New Jersey, we stopped by Cranberry Glades for a quick hike. The Glades were already boasting their fall colors under blue skies. The temperature was perfect – what a beautiful place.
At about 750 acres, the Cranberry Glades are the largest area of bogs in West Virginia. This unique ecosystem, which consists of 5 bogs, was preserved by the U.S. Forest Service in 1965 and protects over 60 species of plants, most of which are usually only found much farther north. The gladed land is highly acidic and supports cranberries, skunk cabbage, sphagnum moss, and two types of carnivorous plants (purple pitcher plants and sundews).
A half-mile boardwalk traces along the edge of two bogs and through a small wooded area, giving you the opportunity to experience and enjoy this remarkable and ecologically-sensitive area. I especially enjoy the boardwalk – slowly walking through the Glades, stopping here and there to enjoy an unusual plant or snap a photo.
Not far from the boardwalk, you can visit the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center. Open from April through November, the Center has an exhibit hall and audio visual programs which provide interpretation of forest ecosystems and local history. You will informational brochures and maps and, if you’re like me, a nature book or two to add to your library.
After so many years away, it was invigorating to re-visit one of my childhood stomping grounds. I highly recommend the experience for everyone!
Wet areas like marshes and swamps are extremely productive for a variety of plants and animals, especially birds. Many species of birds live out their entire lives near these wet areas. Here is a juvenile Black-crowned night-heron which, according to Cornell University’s All About Birds website, is one of the most wide spread species in the world. According to Cornell, “With a range that spans five continents, including much of North America, the Black-crowned Night-Heron is the most widespread heron in the world. It is most active at dusk and at night, feeding in the same areas that other heron species frequent during the day.”
This young fellow simply stood on the mudflat and watched me as I took several photos. He didn’t seem at all preturbed by my presence or any of the dozens of cars which drove by while I observed him.
Double-crested cormorant is another common species along the New Jersey shore. These birds are experts at fishing but must leave the water periodically to allow their feathers to dry. Unlike most other water fowl, their feathers lack the natural oils that would help keep them afloat. As they remain in the water, they slowly become less bouyant and will gradually begin to sink. You can tell how long a cormorant has been fishing by how much of his body remains above the water’s surface. Looks like these two were just getting started.
Clapper rails are very secretive bird and are much more often heard than seen. However, at low tide , you might get lucky enough to find one foraging along the water’s edge – like this fellow. The body of Clappers, like many of the rails, are laterally compressed so that they appear very thin for their height. Ever heard the saying “thin as a rail”?
This bird hung out for quite some time along the water’s edge and allowed me to capture this image. All together, a pretty neat day in the marsh!
I have been noticing large numbers of damselflies and dragonflies lately. I am not that great at identifying them, but I love to photograph them. I learned recently that dragonflies in particular are protective of their territory and will come back to perch in nearly the same spot over and over.
Now, when I flush a dragonfly, I’ll hang out near the same spot and wait for it to return. To my surprise, they really do tend to come back to the same spot. When I approach them slowly, a step or two at a time, I’ve found that dragonflies are pretty tolerant of my presence.
I love the coloring of this damselfly, a bluet but I really have no idea which one. I suppose I ought to dust of my dragonfly and damselfly guide and get busy learning to identify these interesting bugs.
In the meantime, if you know the identities of these three, could you leave a comment with the identification? If it helps, I photographed them at Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Management Area in mid-July in southern New Jersey. Thanks!
A few weeks ago I spent the morning exploring the wildlife drive at Forsythe Wildlife Refuge near Oceanville, New Jersey and was happy to spy this beautiful adult Osprey keeping watch over a fledgling still in the nest. While their numbers have been rebounding lately, this was still a very challenging year for Osprey nesting in South Jersey.
During the early morning hours of June 30th this year, a line of severe thunderstorms sweep through several counties of southern New Jersey. Called a derecho, the storms severely damaged homes, ripped up trees, and tore down power lines with wind gusts that exceeded hurricane strength.
The timing of these storms could not have been worse for nesting Osprey, who were right in the middle of their breeding season. Volunteers from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey rushed out to find several young Osprey blown from their nests. For a fortunate few, volunteers arrive before they succumbed to exposure or predators. Returned to their nests, many of the young survived and this one appeared nearly ready to take flight on the day of my visit.
Kudos to the Conserve Wildlife volunteers!!