We had a really cold weekend in New Jersey with single digit night-time temps and daytime temperatures hovering around 20 degrees F (-5 degrees C) and windy conditions that made it feel much, much colder.
Perfect for a winter hike! Well, not really. But I was feeling the need to be outdoors Sunday, so I headed to a favorite spot, Whitesbog, for a walk.
Whitesbog is a historic cranberry farm that is owned by the state but leased to a cranberry farmer. Some areas are actively farmed, while others are slowly reverting back to their natural state and make great birding locations. Unfortuntely, it was so cold and windy yesterday that very few birds were venturing out.
Most of the bogs, which are flooded for the winter to protect the cranberry plants, are completely frozen over. Sandy dirt roads course between the frozen bogs, great for hiking but leaving you completely exposed to the wind. There were very few areas with open water, essential for over-wintering ducks and swans.
The cold temperatures caused ice crystals to form on the leaves of this small shrub, which was growing near one of the few areas that had flowing water.
A few white-throated sparrows braved the temps to forage for seeds. These little fellows over-winter in New Jersey and sing a sweet whistled song about their summer home – “Oh sweet Canada Canada Canada”.