The Calm Before The Storm: A Walk On Long Beach Island And Cedar Bonnet Island.
The news of an epic coastal snow storm brought me back to Long Beach Island in New Jersey this weekend. I have never seen snow on a beach. It has been on my bucket list a very long time. I visited here four weeks ago, on New Year’s weekend, with the hope of seeing some snow near the ocean, . It was rainy and foggy my entire two day stay. Sadly no snow on the beach. When I heard the news of a Nor’easter , with up to 18 inches of snow and blizzard conditions, it sure got my attention. So early Friday morning I decided to take the three hours drive to Long Beach Island and hopefully see snow some on the shore.
It was a last minute decision, I quickly packed after my morning appointments at my law office, and I was on the road by 11;30. I arrived tat he LBI Hotel around 2;30, checked in, and was soon out the door, hiking over to the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge trail on Cedar Bonnet Island.
It was so different from my previous two hikes on his trail four weeks ago. On my last visit I experienced rainy and foggy weather with very poor visibility. On Friday, although it was cloudy when I started my hike, the visibility was so much better. I was still able to see the the intercoastal waterway and surrounding landscape as I walked over,
and then under the bridge that connected Long Beach and Cedar Bonnet Islands.
The wildlife refuge is noted for it abundance of waterfowl. Like last time I saw a lot of ducks on the waters under the bridge. This time I was able to get some better photographs, including photos a few lesser scaups,
and a lot of bufflehead ducks
There were also a lone common golden eye duck swimming with a female bufflehead duck and
some mallard ducks.
A herring gull was swimming on the waters of the waterway that separated the islands.
After walking under the bridge I followed the sidewalk along the edge of the wildlife refuge. The refuge consists of vast expanses of tidal salt water marshes and wetlands. Clouds were obscuring the sun. There was a somber feeling in the calm air before the storm. The heavy snow and winds were forecast to arrive later in the evening.
The trailhead was about a 1/4 mile from the bridge and I followed it into the refuge.
On my last visit I saw hundreds of yellow-rumped warblers, song sparrows and robins in the small patch of rare coastal forest at the beginning of the trail . Not a bird was seen as I walked here on Friday.
I followed the trail towards an observations pavilion where I could now see the homes and water tower on Long Beach Island in the distance across the intercoastal waterway.
Near the pavilion I saw a harrier hawk flying over the marshes and wetland,
with it’s head turned downward looking for a meal.
And I soon learned there were plenty of meals for it to feast on in the wetlands and marshes. As I started my hike back, a large flock of American robins landed on a small frozen puddle along the trail. There were dozens of them. And they appeared to be drinking from some water that melted at the edges of the frozen puddle.
They were soon joined by dozens of yellow rumped warblers,
who also were drinking water from the puddle.
This photo will show why they are called yellow rumped warblers.
After photographing the birds I continued my walk back on the trail through the wetlands and marshes.
and in addition to the mallards, scaups. and bufflehead ducks, I also saw a few American black ducks swimming on the ponds in the marshes. Here is a link to a gallery with photos of some more of the birds I saw on my hike. Long Beach Island Hike birds January 28 2020.
After leaving the wildlife refuge I walked back, passed my hotel, and continued about a 1/2 mile through the town of Ship Bottom, and came to the dunes above the Atlantic Ocean.
As I have said I never saw snow on the Atlantic Ocean and I was hoping to see it this weekend. The clouds in the skies were increasing when I arrived,
as was the wind and the ferocity of the waves. It felt noticeably colder as I walked along the beach.
It was nearing sunset so I took a short walk along the shore line observing the flotsam and jetsam that washed ashore. This included some sea shells,
and this interesting sea shell. I am not sure what it was. I could spend hours walking along the shoreline looking for seashells and wildlife.
It was getting too late to continue walking on Friday. I had walked almost five mile and was hungry. The snow was supposed to start around 7 p.m. but I didn’t want to take any chances. I hiked back to my hotel and had an early and delicious dinner at the Black Whale restaurant. I was driving home and noticed the first snow flakes start to fall. There would be many more but more about that in my next blog post. I returned to my room and feel asleep before the winds and snow arrived. But I knew I would get my wish and see some snow on the beach in the morning. Here is a link to a gallery on my website with some more photos from my hike. Long Beach Island hike January 28 2022.
“My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea. And the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow