John Denver once said he loved to "share the joy that he found in living." I suppose if that's the only thing the preacher can say about me at my funeral, it will be sufficient. And so, let me introduce you to a wonderful area known as Cape May Point State Park; an awe-inspiring marshland abutting the Atlantic Ocean, an area rife with joy. This past Tuesday (Summer Solstice) I found myself wandering through the marshes and dunes of this diverse habitat, simply observing. Simply shrinking away from the madding crowd and getting close to the dust from which I was made.
What did I see? I'll let that speak for itself...
This Great Egret was hunting Bunker Pond with all diligence. Great Egrets tend to be quite languid in their pursuit of fish and frogs and such. But when they strike, those sharp bills can do some damage.
Here's the Great Egret's "little cousin": the Snowy Egret. He's much more frantic when foraging than his relative, and is a lot of fun to watch as a result. He has bright yellow feet, which he often uses to imitate worms, luring unsuspecting prey to the surface.
A side view of a snag (dead tree) occupied by young Barn Swallows. These guys were anxiously expecting Mama to come with a fresh bug, alerting me to her presence with much excited chatter.
And a frontal view of the same birds.
This little beauty is my all time favorite butterfly: the American Copper. The coppers like to lay their eggs in certain types of grasses, and can be found in abundance in localized areas. I had a friend count over 200 individuals in one field! The more the merrier I say.
Here's the same bug with his underside showing. I made sure he was fined for indecent exposure.
This is a Little Wood-Satyr butterfly. His cryptic colors come in very handy against the hungry avian occupants of the park.
Here's one of the Bluette Damselflies. Damselflies are similar to Dragonflies, but are generally much smaller, with their wings closed behind their backs. This little fellow was only slightly thicker than a pin.
But for all the beauty in the world, there must be bullies. Here are two Fish Crows, which are a nuisance because they've developed an appetite for the endangered Piping Plover that nest on the beach at the park. They should really stick to Cicadas.
The most elegant, but also the most problematic, bird I saw this Tuesday, would have to be the Mute Swan. Mute Swans are non-natives, having been introduced for aesthetic purposes about 200 years ago. They are aggressive, often killing the other inhabitants of the ponds they frequent. They are destructive, pulling up the vegetation by the roots, instead of clipping it, a feeding style that will eventually sterilize an area. And perhaps most importantly, they're dangerous, having been known to break the legs of unwary passer-by's.
Lastly, here's my friend the Red-winged Blackbird inviting you back.