More photos of the beautiful blue sky from a few days ago.
In the above photo you can see the ice begin to form on the surface of the marsh. Down below is a closer look at the ice.
It was a beautiful and cold three days ago at the refuge. After hiding for most of the week, the sun was out. The wind was blowing fairly strongly and lifted the clouds toward the heavens.
As I drove on Wildlife Drive, a Northern Harrier pair was hunting for food, such as voles and mice, among the low vegetation along the marshes. They cut in front of my car, disappeared in the grasses at times. I tried to follow them and only managed to get an occasional shot.
Meanwhile, ducks and geese took off in dramatic formations against the blue sky.
I started this blog in 2012. To make room for newer posts, I had to delete some of the older posts, but kept their images on my PC. Following are some of the most liked photos throughout the years.
I have looked many times at the following image of a Red-winged Blackbird chasing a much bigger Fish Crow away from the vicinity of its nest. It was actually chasing two Fish Crows, but only one was caught by the camera. Gumption and tenacity are words that apply well to the Red-winged Blackbird.
This year, one big bird was everywhere around the refuge. I shot many pictures and even have one post dedicated to it, Great Blue Heron. However, the following monochrome shot was liked by many.
In November, I saw Yellow-rumped Warblers for the first time. They were eating Juniper berries and did not fly away allowing me to take many shots. Here are two more unpublished until today.
Hundreds of egrets stay at the refuge almost year round from the end of February until December. They spend their time fishing, and sometimes fighting each other, jumping up like ballet dancers.
With so many egrets and other birds , I sometimes wondered whether there ever is enough fish for them. One day a few weeks ago, I looked down into a shallow part of the refuge and saw thousands and thousands of fish swimming around, with not a bird in sight.
This concludes this 2021 Images in Review series. I wish all of you a Great and Happy New Year in 2022!
I planted small sunflower plants this year. The deer left them alone since they had so much else to eat. The one below adorned a side of our driveway.
In the spring and early summer Sayen Gardens was the ideal place for photographing flowers. One day, their pond looked milky white (I don’t know why) and the few plants showing through the water got an unusual and striking background. The following shot is in monochrome.
My year-round favorite place is the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. In these days of coronavirus, it is the perfect place to find fresh air and solitude. Audubon groups of birdwatchers with their binoculars came there almost every day, but they tended to congregate at places near the entrance to the refuge. I prefer to drive on the 8-mile long Wildlife Drive.
In the summer familiar, and sometimes unusual, butterflies abound along Wildlife Drive.
Egrets were in abundance at the refuge and provided many photo opportunities.
2021 was the year of the 17-year Brood X cicadas. Tens of thousands of their shells littered our yard and their singing during the day was incessant, lasting from early morning well into sunset.
Some of my most satisfying photo captures are the following of a superb flyer, a White Ibis near its rookery in Ocean City, NJ.
In four more days, 2022 will be upon us. For the rest of this year, I will repost some of the images that you, the readers of this blog, have commented on or liked. A couple of them will be posted for the first time, since I suspect you may find them interesting.
This is my first post for Johnbo’s Cellpic Sunday challenge. Here’s the link to his post:https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/2021/12/26/cellpic-sunday-225/
So far I have not taken many pictures with my cellphone, a Samsung Galaxy S21. Following are some that I took over the past few months, in no particular order.
The following photo was taken two years ago, with an older Samsung Galaxy camera, a free one from the telephone company.
Peregrine Falcons stay year-round along the ocean in New Jersey. I see them occasionally but usually they fly too fast for a good photo. In the fall they make a habit of perching themselves on nests that Ospreys abandon when they migrate to warmer climates. Two days ago I saw a Peregrine Falcon on Wildlife Drive at the refuge, surrounded by several cars like mine.
Like a fashion model, it knew how to pose and obligingly turned its head for another shot.
Finally too many cars had stopped, and it flew to another Osprey nest on the other side of the road and turned its back on all the humans.
Then it flew away very fast.
Yesterday the refuge was mostly deserted. Only a few white egrets remained, the rest having migrated just before the cold arrived. However, there were many ducks which come and stay during the colder months, and Great Blue Herons which do not migrate. I found several of them as soon as I arrived and, when the light was right, got the following shots.
Last week, a flock of some twenty Tundra Swans could be heard whistling noisily as they fed on one of the refuge marshes. I did not see them until the last part of Wildlife Drive. They were swimming around near a similar number of Ring-necked Ducks. This was the first time I saw and recognized these ducks.
High in the sky a UPS plane was heading toward Newark airport, probably bringing in all those Christmas gifts.
Juche: The Demon of Yodok is the first book in the Juche series by Adria Carmichael a writer who lives in Switzerland. I read it last year and found it hard to put down as it is one of the rare fictionalized accounts of life in North Korean concentration camps, Yodok being the most notorious.
If you want to read the book, Adria is offering the Kindle edition for free on Amazon at this link from December 4 until December 8, 2021.
Yesterday, driving along Wildlife Drive I saw several birds jumping in and out of a juniper tree on one side of the road. I stopped and took photos of Yellow-rumped Warblers, birds which are quite abundant in the fall as they eat the plentiful berries on the juniper. These birds normally eat insects but in the fall they love the juniper berries which are too bitter for human consumption.
I think they were female warblers. Some took time to look at the photographer.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, even if you are not in the US.
This morning a Bald Eagle perched on an abandoned Osprey nest was surveying the marshes.
It looked directly at me as I got out of the car to take its picture.
I took a few shots and turned away. At that instant it flew up in the air and I missed most of the flight shots, except for the following.
The other day, when I arrived at the refuge a flock of several hundred birds flew up into the sky as if they were starting to migrate. They did not look like Canada Geese, and could have been Lesser Yellowlegs starting their migration to warmer places. Please let me know if you can identify them as another kind of bird.
Two Great Egrets were fighting at the refuge. I have seen them do that before, with most “fights” lasting a few seconds. The following lasted almost a minute, over several bouts in succession until everything quieted down. Were they competing for territory, or for some female egret?
Adria Carmichael is the author of the highly addictive Juche series of dystopian novels set in the totalitarian nation of Choson, a very realistic fictional portrayal of North Korea. She has completed the first three books, which are currently available on Amazon, and is working on the fourth in the series.
Having grown up with movies and TV series about the war in Vietnam from a US perspective, it was truly enlightening to read a book on this topic from another perspective, written by a South Vietnamese native who himself had to flee to America when his country was invaded by the north.
The book is part love story in the midst of a devastating war, and part history book with detailed accounts of the two-month long siege of the small, but strategically important city of An Loc. For me, it was the stories about the people fighting for their lives and freedom that captivated my interest, and I have to admit that I skimmed though some of the lengthier descriptions of military events that were not directly connected to the main story. The characters were fantastic though, and I followed their struggles and development with great interest.
Love was at the heart of the story, and I liked that the book kept me rooting for the sweet but fragile romance between the protagonists Trung and Ly that started so innocently in a restaurant in Saigon and then continued down into the muddy trenches of An Loc under the constant enemy bombardment that gradually turned the city into dusty piles of rubble.
Another aspect that fascinated me was the contrast between the self-image of the northern army and the view of the people of the south. While the north portrayed themselves as “liberators” coming to the south to free their brothers and sisters from the evil puppet regime that was holding them in its clutches, the South Vietnamese saw them as nothing other than an invading army whose only interest was to subjugate them, and not minding to kill hundreds of thousands of people in the process. The contrast became abundantly clear when the author let us follow North Vietnamese soldiers who entered An Loc expecting to be met by cheering masses of people greeting their liberators with flowers and praise, but found nothing but petrified people fleeing for their lives at the sight of them. Very well portrayed.
At the very end of the book (and this is not a spoiler for this story) I must admit I was very surprised by a sentence saying that the protagonists will face even greater hardships three years later… and then the book ended. This statement made me incredibly curious and made me to wonder if there is a sequel on the horizon.
While I was photographing egrets at the refuge, a hawk flew down and landed no more than 20 ft (6 m) from me. I adjusted my camera and got the following shot.
It did not stay long and I only got three shots before it flew away. The other two shots don’t show the hawk’s face.
Following are some photos I took today of cranberries being harvested in southern New Jersey. The harvest starts in October and usually lasts until the beginning of November.
First the cranberry fields are flooded with water. Then the ripe cranberries are separated from their plants with the use of machines called “egg beaters”. The berries, which have four air sacks, inside float on the water and are corralled as shown below.
While driving toward the town of Chatsworth, the center of New Jersey cranberry industry, I noticed some bright red colors beyond the pine trees lining the highway.
Coming closer to the red areas, I saw a lot of cranberries on the ground.
They may be cranberries discarded by the Ocean Spray processing plant, but I have no way of confirming that. In past years, when a season brought in too many cranberries, growers are legally allowed by the Capper-Volstead Act to dump part of their crops to keep cranberry prices stable.
Fishing by humans is not allowed at the refuge. But the birds are free to fish since it is sometimes their best way to obtain what they need to survive. The Great Egret shown below is an excellent practitioner of fishing. Yesterday, I watched from beginning to end as it plucked a fish out of the marshes.