Sunday, July 23, 2006

Buddy by the bay

Buddy dragged me out to Sandy Hook today because we haven't visited this favorite place in a while. It's nice to walk with him there because when it gets hot we both can take a dip in the bay. Dogs are aren't allowed on most ocean beaches during the summer months to protect beach nesting birds, like terns and plovers. We started out at North Pond, down a path that is well-worn during the Spring because migrant birds congregate here, but now is overgrown with poison ivy and shaded just enough to be a haven for mosquitos. Buddy marched along unfazed by both.

I was anxious to get out to the dunes and pond to see the tree swallows and osprey that nest close there. Along the way, I paused among the beach plums that I photographed in April and saw plenty of fruit, none quite ripe enough for picking. When ready they'll turn a luscious shade of frosty purple, usually in late August or early September. Ever had beach plum jelly? We rested for awhile in the dunes, watching the swallows darting over the pond until finally the biting flies chased us back out to the parking lot.

The park service is in the process of revegetating most of the parking lot at North Pond with native plants and grasses to restore grassland habitat that was lost in other areas of Sandy Hook. The field is blooming with chicory, spotted knapweed, some little-bluestem, and a lot of coneflowers - they're what caught my eye! Hopefully, in the fall, we'll find Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, and numerous sparrows in addition to the Goldfinches I found there today.

By this point, Buddy was hot and bored with all the attention I was paying to the flowers and the butterflies. I turned around to find him belly-up in the wildflowers, scratching his back, I guess. Or looking for attention himself. He loves to roll around in the grass like a fool - silly boy!

We headed in the car to Horseshoe Cove, where I was hoping to get some pics of the osprey that nest in the marsh there. First, we had to stop and take a dip in a quiet pool made by the tide. Buddy is not much of a swimmer, he prefers to wade and just get his belly wet.

We walked along to the beach on the bayside and found families fishing and seining the water for tiny little fish. I'm not sure what they do with them, but I know these are the same fish that I've watched terns catch. Tiny little silvery things. We spent a lot of time here, me taking pics and Buddy laying in the surf, cooling off. I watched a group of cormorants on the pilings, waiting out the tide and drying their wings.

I set out to find the osprey and had to drag Buddy from the water. At 11, he doesn't have the stamina he once had, and it was obvious today. Used to be he pulled me along behind him. Today we walked side by side at a leisurely pace and took a minute to photograph this common tern.

We found our way to the marsh, but the osprey platform was too far away for any nice pics. There were 2 almost fully grown youngsters there on the nest, waiting to be fed. Buddy decided the marsh grass was a nice shady place for a nap and settled in while I watched the osprey with my binoculars.

We headed home then, wet and hot and tired. Any visit to Sandy Hook is a good one; the variery of things I saw today made it an especially nice visit. Buddy, I think, was just glad to be home on his bed with the fan blowing on him.

11 comments:

bunnygirl said...

What lovely pictures! I'm not familiar with NJ, but I'm spent many summers in New England, and your photos often remind me of favorite places.

MojoMan said...

Hey! Dis ain't Joisey! Where's da toinpike and chem plants? Fuggedaboutit!

People don't know, or forget, that New Jersey has some great natural treasures. Thanks for taking us on your walk.

Pam in Tucson said...

Yummm, beach plum jelly! What a wonderful illustrated walk! I always enjoy cormorant silhouettes - nice pic! You're fortunate to live so close to such a rich place to explore. Great that the park service is working on enriching it. Thanks for taking us along on your lovely day.

Anonymous said...

Lovely photos, sweet commentary, lucky dog to have such a nice human.

Susan Gets Native said...

I've said it before, but...I never knew NJ had such pretty places!
You lucky thing.

Diva Kitty's Mom said...

Looks like a great day was had by all - we were too busy not fainting from the heat to do anything other than sleep infront of the fan.

LauraHinNJ said...

It's all the magic of the camera - easy to hide the not-so-pretty stuff!

Yo! Mojoman! I'm saving my pics of the turnpike and chemical plants for next week!

Seriously, if all you see of NJ is from the Newark airport area, I can understand why NJ has a bad rap. I don't even think I live in a very pretty part of the state - too many people and traffic and malls here!

Laura said...

I really enjoyed this post, and the lovely pictures. Haven't been to Sandy Hook in a gazillion years, but hope I get there soon. Thanks for sharing these!

bev said...

Beautiful account of what must have been a perfect day. Buddy must be a great companion - a lot like my collie, Sabrina.

LauraHinNJ said...

Laura: Come - we'll look for birds!

Yes, Bev, he is good to have along on a walk, especially now that he walks a bit slower and has patience for my dallying to look at birds and take pics!

Randa said...

What a lovely post. I love seeing what other parts of the world are like -- places which are normal and commonplace (which is not to mean 'less interesting', by any means) to those who live in the area, but are fascinating to me.