No Swimming Today! This was one of the signs that greeted me as I pulled into Island Beach State Park with the temperature in the 30’s Well, I had forgotten my swim trunks anyway.
This was only my second visit to this nearby barrier island park and I enjoyed it. The trip was in response to the great images of foxes and snowy owls being captured on the island by an outstanding photographer, Ray Yeager.
The island is reached via a causeway from Toms River. The park begins 2.5 miles south of the causeway, and continues on for about 8 miles paved and another mile of beach-walk to Barnegat Inlet. Along the way are numerous places to park and walk through the dunes to either the beach or the bay.
The above image is a little soft in the foreground. I had my 100-400 on in case I spotted an owl and they’re just not good for landscape work. (370mm, f/16, 1/400, tripod mounted, and composed in live view)
The dunes are impressive compared to those on LBI as they are taller and generally covered with berry-laden holly, scrub pine, white cedar, sassafras and so on. They reminded me of the dunes called Sandy Hills in Margate where we often played war in my childhood years.
Elsewhere there were eye-catching zen scenes of simplicity and gracefulness.
I drove to the end of the paved road. I had contemplated a sunset behind Barnegat Light but found that would require a hike along the beach of about 0.8 mile. I realized that I was missing a camera accessory: a truck whose tires I could deflate in order to drive along the beach. Must check the B&H Catalog. I decided the hike would be good for me…but on another day so I drove back up to leave the park and get some lunch. On the way I passed some fox activity which is one of the things I had hoped to see. I saw five of them off and on; they were working the road in anticipation of being fed. The signs, of course, say Don’t Feed the Fox but the foxes don’t read. One gal had brought a box of hot dogs and was using them to entice a fox which enabled me to get this image.
It’s also a little soft (370mm, f/16 and 1/166th, handheld) so I want to return and try some more. I also had hoped for a snowy owl shot as Yeager’s are to be envied, and they are such beautiful animals. I walked a lot of off-the-road trails but nary a flash of white. I actually did have one in my crosshairs but it asked me if I were Ray Yeager. When I said no, it gave me the claw and flew off.
I got back into town (such as it is in February) and found a pizza place. I asked the proprietor if he expected a busy Super Bowl Sunday. He said he didn’t; “Everyone’s back in New York and nobody lives here in the winter.”
I then headed back into the park as hope springs eternal. Here are two more typical scenes I found. The first, an unglamorous drainage cut from the Bird Blind Trail, the second on a beach trail after emerging from the trees.
All in all it was a pleasant and informative afternoon and I mean to return.