A SIGN OF SUMMER’S FADING?

When we think about shorebirds we think about seagulls, terns, great white egrets, great blue herons, and so on.  Rarely do we think about Purple Martins but they come here and enjoy the shore as do we.  They winter in Mexico and further south, and arrive back at Long Beach Island in April.  They spend a pleasant summer here, raise their chicks, and fly away in mid to late August.

Here’s part of their condos at nearby  Cotov’s Landing on Liberty Thorofare.

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After a day of insect catching, home to roost.

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What prompted this post, however, was their recent gathering on the electric wires of our neighborhood.  The image below is an eight shot panorama to try and convey the immensity of the gathering.  As I captured the scene I could also see that the wires on the next street and the street after that were also covered with the birds.  Unfortunately, the resolution of the web site doesn’t permit that but you can see a larger version by clicking on the picture.  You may then be able to see some on the distant wires behind the front wires.

 

Click on the image below to see a larger version.

I was struck by their number as it was far greater than just those from the end of our street.  Obviously there are others on the island but what in the world draws them all together and why?  We’re speculating that this preceded the departure of many of them on their way south.  As I’ve suggested in past posts maybe they’re comparing travel plans or checking with Orbitz.

Because of the hundreds and hundreds of birds I kept looking for Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor but no luck.

(For those of you too young to have seen it, watch for Hitchcock’s “The Birds” on Turner Classic Movies.)

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Here’s a closeup of the view out back (from Grampa’s deck).    I thought their lineup on the diagonal electric service cable (from the pole, down to the right) was pretty nifty.  Hope it can be seen against the houses.

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Finally, since the other wires were already taken, lots of them took over the wires on the front end of our house.

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I hope they have a great winter in Mexico, and I hope to see them again next summer.

Hasta luego y vaya con Dios.

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UNLOCKING SUMMER’S FRONT DOOR

It’s time for me to leave the cave and head back to the island.  After two trial weekends, yes, it’s good to be back.  Here’s what I unexpectedly, gratefully, captured at sunset last week.

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It wasn’t shaping up as a great sunset.  There was, in fact, a cloud bank above the mainland, and the setting sun was above that.  By shooting with my telephoto lens, however, I was able to mask out the sun, leaving only this magnificent scene and color.  The foreground grasses provide an anchor for the viewer, and the four men fishing on the boat say,

Yes! Summer’s Here!

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Another major sign of summer’s arrival is the blooming of the Rosa Rugosa or beach roses.  The dune makers (more on this below) spared the extensive clusters of the roses on either side of the ramp to the beach, making a beautiful entrance when in bloom.  They also have a lovely fragrance; it made me wish my camera could capture it.

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Another sign of summer for me is the return of the Purple Martins to Cotov’s Condominiums along Liberty Thorofare.  So is the morning fog.

They’re Back … and their eggs have already been laid.  More to come.

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But the Big Story on Action News is the $128 million beach restoration project, a very impressive, 24/7 engineering project.  Security guards prevent ageing photographers from getting too close but here’s part of the feel of it.  The gulls ignore the Danger sign to feast on bits and pieces that come along with the sand being pumped in; the lady is heading for ignoring the sign but not, one hopes, for the bits and pieces.

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Beach toys for big boys.

Beach toys for big boys.

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A block or two north the beach is open alongside the pipe carrying bottom sand from an off-shore dredge.  The pipe is marked “High Pressure.  Danger.  Stay Back” but the crew has created sand walkways over it.  Oh, well.  Frisbees must fly.

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Did I mention summer fog?  Oh, yeah.  On this morning the pipeline was pumping in off-shore fog.

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The pathway to the beach is now daunting.  A compacted gravel bed has been put in place which is so much easier to walk on rather than just the sand.

This family made it to the top.  They’re settling in but I expect signs soon to keep off of the dunes.

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Anyway, once you get to the top of Mt. Dune an amazing vista opens up.

Plenty of room until the first nor’easter.

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MORE SUMMER DAYS

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Big discovery:  Labor Day’s only a week away.  Other signs: mums and ginger snaps at the Acme.  Time to get a few more summer snapshots on the table before fall arrives.  Here’s another sign of the end of the season:  The Purple Martins have left and their cousins, the swallows, are en route.  They rest here, review their flight schedules, and also head south.  Most of us at the shore also migrate and soon we’ll be heading west and north.

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Earlier in August the Purple Martins were still around.  Here’s one heading home.

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Yet another sign of that brick wall called season’s end is the annual Quill-McCarty round-the-island trophy race for the kids.  Against a stiff headwind they clawed their way up Liberty Thorofare yesterday on the last leg of the race.  Somebody won.

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We had a lot of excitement this summer about Super Moons, and I pursued them as well.  This one’s been tweeked a little to bring out more moon detail.

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The above image is just about maxed out as far as showing both the moon and an interesting foreground so then one starts to look for other possibilities.   In this one, we know there’s a powerful moon up there somewhere and we enjoy its effects from another perspective.

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Here’s yet another perspective of the moon’s effect on the beach.

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This summer I also experimented with using a slow shutter speed to photograph wave action around a jetty, hoping for a creamy effect.  I neglected to compensate enough for the longer exposure and the result was this “blown-out” scene.  We prefer, however, to give it a fancier description and thus be able to charge more for it.  Hence, what you’re seeing is a high-key image.  That’s artier.

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One of the summer’s great memories is the annual Twilight Sail party.  Here’s one of my favorites.  I was also pleased that it was selected as the background for another major event’s invitation.

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Finally, it’s been a great summer, and I salute it:  I hope it’ll come back again next year.

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CLOUDY DAY COMPOSITIONS

I slept in until 7 (?).  I wondered why and discovered that cloud cover had kept the light level low.  While waiting for the caffeine to boot my head’s RAM I enjoyed the swirling cloud clumps.  Yep, picture time.

Here’s Liberty Thorofare and Mordecai Island, looking north to the center of  Beach Haven.

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At the foot of my street is Cotov’s boat landing, family owned and maintained for over seventy years, a unique reminder of Beach Haven’s past as a fishing community,.

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There have been two generations of Cotovs know as Captain Bly.  The third generation, young Nick Cotov, continues to maintain the property, rent boat slips, care for the martin houses, and harvest bait for sale to the island day-boat rental places.

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The original fishing boat, the Sultan, has been on blocks since I moved here in 2001.  She suffers a little more each year.  At one time, the late Nick,Sr. had offered it to the Tuckerton Seaport.  Not everything gets done.  Hemmed in by Sandy debris, the vegetation moves to enfold her.  Sic transit gloria.  No matter; if my RAM continues to work, I’ll know where she is.

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It’s hard for me to think about lobsters off-shore of central Jersey.  Everybody knows they come only from Maine.  But that wasn’t always so.  The family worked lobster traps off-shore here for many years.  Now, the traps age along with Sultan.

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In the brush and vegetation that is engulfing Sultan and the lobster traps there is still the here-and-there flash of color, seeking to reproduce itself.  As a centerpiece the wild aster says, even with a dark cloud cover, still, “It’s a beautiful day in Beach Haven.”  Thank you, Walter Smedley (R.I.P.) for this wonderful statement.

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SUMMER’S FIRST G&T

Yeah, yeah, I know.  It’s not summer yet but it sure felt like it.  The Memorial Day weekend was mighty fine.  I said to the family that it was as though we had been in a winter time warp;  then someone pulled the switch and we fell out into last August.  Bagels from the Bagel Shack; three trips a day to Murphy’s to get the food items we forgot to get earlier; fisherman and crabbers at the foot of the street;  flip-flops lined up at the beach entrance; surfers and beach walkers; the ice-cream guy’s bells; roller blades on West Avenue…

We enjoyed it while looking anxiously over our shoulders, half expecting the nice weather to be pushed away.  But, it didn’t happen even though we all remember wet, cold, Memorial Days in the past.  Clearly, the season has begun and we’re pleased that neither spring nor summer have forgotton how to do it right.  The Purple Martins know it; they returned to their condos a few weeks ago.

The celebration day was beautifully clear at Beach Haven’s Veterans’ Bicentennial Park, ready for the ceremony at the gazebo. 

The parade was “down-home” with the Mayor, our friend Professor Commissioner Nancy Davis, the Boy Scouts, the antique cars, Missy and John Maschal in their early 20th C., wood-sided Fudge Truck , the fire engines and first-aiders, and a super marching band.

During the service, veterans were invited to gather before the podium.  Feeling inadequate in the presence of those who had been in harm’s way I went up anyway, proud to have served my country.  I never fired a shot in anger but I served, helping to maintain our defense establishment with the Atlantic Fleet Seabees in Morocco, Spain, and Puerto Rico.  Here’s Bergie and his construction company of Seabees in front of a completed vital defense structure (a base commissary ;-))  (For this I had to master navigation and seamanship??)

The Memorial Day Pig Roast was fun and filling.  Fun also to see old friends again to begin the season.

Other signs of the seasonal change are here.  There’s usually a tiki of some sort nailed to the top of a post along the boardwalk from the street to the beach.  Here’s this year’s…whimsical and endearing.

And, just by that walkway are the beach roses, Rosa Rugosa, sometimes called Nantucket Roses, which are most lush and prolific at this time of year:

This is also the season for the exotic, beautiful mountain laurel blossoms.  The reddish cast, a departure from the usual light pink, is rare for the area, and is seen mostly in the nearby pine barrens.

And, finally, the regal,delicate ballerina, the iris.

The G&T?  Oh, yeah, we had a couple.

AUGUST AMBLES AWAY

August is getting ready to follow July; I can feel it.  Aside from Irene it was a pleasant time.  Even though I expected Irene to slam us we escaped with minimal damage.  The eye touched Jersey about five miles from my house.  My damage?  One half of a shingle; no water on my utilities/storage floor with its elevation of 4.7 feet.  I live as far from the beach as I did when a 140 mph hurricane (life was simpler then; no storm names) brushed Margate in 1944.  During that storm I watched room-sized sections of boardwalk float by the house and became a believer.

Anyway, August is heading out.  The morning light is warmer on the spartina grass, emphasizing its fall shades of amber-brown.  This year’s flock of almost 200 Purple Martins left about three weeks ago and Nick’s son, Nicky, lowered the houses before Irene. 

Vacancy

 Below is the annual August round-Mordecai-Island trophy race for kids.  We see this and we sigh, “Summer’s almost over.”  I’ve enjoyed seeing more and more paddle-boarders out this summer.  I missed one earlier this month who was out there with his dog on the board!?!

Sorry ladies. Those hulls are not allowed in this race.

Of course we had a couple other routine August storms.  It’s nice sitting on the deck under the rotunda roof and hearing the rain patter above.  Even nicer to see the promise that sometimes shows up.

Tomorrow's coming.

There was sadness in August, as well.  I lost my friend, Nick Cotov, a second generation fisherman.  He operated the boat landing at the foot of my street where we’ve kept our boats since we moved here.  He and his father had commercially lobstered from here and also brought in other fresh fish from off shore.   Our friends speak of going there on a Friday night in the 50’s and buying fresh lobsters.

Cotov's Boat Landing

For Nick in retirement it was a place to come to be back by the water, to build stuff, to work on the restoration of Sultan, the family fishing boat, to inspect for tenants at the Osprey rack across the thorofare from his place, or just to get away from it all. 

Rack for rent. Nick's phone number on the sign.

Nick was a solid citizen, a great guy, and a genuine local.  His father had become known as Captain Bly and Nick cheerfully adopted the title.  My first exposure to his style was our first New Year’s Eve here.  As night descended I saw the Sultan emerge all gussied up for Christmas.

Sultan at Christmas

Nick deserves more coverage than this post can provide.  There are some great stories.  I’m sad that there’s an empty chair there now.

An empty chair.

ENDLESS SUMMER ISN’T

When I came down in late June I thought, “Gee, I’ve got the whole summer ahead of me.”  Technically true but so deceptive.  July is over Thursday and I’m bewildered as to where it went.  Anyhow, the images of summer are a comfort.

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Shades of the 60’s, the girls experimented with batik.  Here are the colorful and interestingly patterned results laid out to dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Purple Martin Motel is full as always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The A. J. Meerwald, a Delaware Bay Oyster Schooner visited Beach Haven and took people for cruises out on Manahawkin Bay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Polly’s Dock, long a Beach Haven icon, has gone upscale.  The shed roof and walls no longer sag towards collapse, bulkheading has displaced the mud launching ramp, and — horrors! — there are jet skies for rent.  But, it’s still one of the most colorful places around.