Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Dragon Eyed Sunset

Although the skies were gray and not very inviting, we decided to head down to take a late day beach walk and enjoy whatever sunset might appear. It is mid-April.

As we walked, we noticed a beautiful plume cloud begin to form.

 and then the sun emerged below the clouds . . .

The cloud plume began to dissolve from the winds aloft.

and then it was over;

". . . rippling at water's 
edge, as
sunset splays one last outburst 
of gleam, her warming breath
lay your troubles aside while
earth turns a tired cheek - 
her last gasp of solitude, a
soliloquy of peace."

(Poem by Richard Provencher)

The contrast of white sand and dark blue night sky are striking here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Box Turtles Abound

In late April, as we were having the yard mulched, a box turtle was disturbed from his winter slumber. He was buried in a deep loose pile of leaf litter and it is definitely a male, identified by his red eye color.

A few weeks later, I found him with a female box turtle, identified by her lighter brown eye color. He had moved from the back yard to the front. Apparently, their territories are very small and range to just about 250 square yards.

He wedged himself first next to a rose bush and she then crawled on top. There intricate shell patterns and coloration are so unique.

This week, she is alone and meandering around, probably looking for grubs, worms or other tasty treats. Her plastron is flat and she is more domed in shape, all indicators that confirm she is a female. She is probably younger, too, because of her bright colorful shell.

This is a great site for further information:

If you find one, be sure to leave them in peace and in place. If moved, they can die.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Crabs, Kites and Castles

Under cloudy, threatening skies, calm seas, and a light breeze out of the east, I walked the beach to investigate the changes that had taken place since my last visit.

The Stites walkway is radically changed, with most of the wooden planks removed and a wall built to help control the dunes.

There are little ugly crabs with tiny pinchers washed ashore, some dead, some alive.

After researching awhile, I find they are Libinia emarginata or otherwise known as the portly spider crab, common spider crab or nine-spined spider crab. They are omnivores, not especially aggressive and burrow in soft sediment, as stated on this great site: I also found a interesting blog along the way that helped me identify this crab and the site has some great photos of the area and beyond:

The Atlantic Ghost Crabs or Ocypode quadrata have adapted to the changes along the shore by building holes in high ridges created by the tides, with their second entrances up on top. In the background, the dunes have grown taller with the vegetation capturing the shifting sands of the Point.

and despite the weather, there is still time for kites

and castles

Blooming at the Beach

At the end of May,
there are a number of native and non-native plants in bloom along
the beach access by Peter-By-The-Sea at Cape May Point.

Rosa rugosa, also known as the "beach rose" 
is a very hardy, salt tolerant plant and is readily seen along the coast. It is native to eastern Asia and has been cultivated there for a thousand years and because of its sweet delicate fragrance, 
is often used in potpourri. 

I have not been able to identify the next 2 flowers pictured below and have used the 
Native Plant List of NJ: 
and the Flora of NJ Project