Friday, July 13, 2012

A walk on the wild side: to the north end of Brigantine

At our last installment our hero and heroine were about to embark on a walk to the north end of the island.  Let us pick up the thread: Diaristwoman was interested in getting a good look at the City's Observation Platform which I assume was built for birders.  However I do know that it's also used for other purposes such as an annual ham radio operator's demonstration.

The Observation Platform; used by birders and hams.

Although the platform can be accessed from a sandy road, inland, unfortunately one can't get to the platform from the beach.  My bride's displeasure can be read by her "hands on hips" body language.

Well, one could get there if one was prepared to hike through a lush stand of poison ivy.

So close but so far away.  The observation platform marks the limit of the City's reach into the wild beach.  Beyond this point the island is safely part of a  wildlife refuge.
This Herring Gull is glad of that!

A Natural Area--perhaps we'll encounter some naturalists (not to be confused with naturists...)

The beach was blissfully empty.

We passed the remains of an old wooden jetty.  The worn, black stumps of the pilings remind me of a mouth full of rotting teeth.  Years ago Brigantine had many similar wood jetties built in an attempt to stabilize the beaches.  The ones on the developed part of the island have now either buried themselves below the sand (the original intention) or have been removed because of the carcinogenic nature of the creosote used to preserve the pilings in those days.

As I walk along I always keep an eye open for interesting shells.  This razor clam caught my eye.

Midway on our walk we saw this dead bayberry "forest".  I'm unsure of what caused this die-off but I suspect it was due to salt water intrusion caused when Hurricane Irene came ashore last year.

Without the interference of humans the wind shapes the dunes and decorates the sand with dried reeds as it chooses.
Parts of the wild beach are closed even to foot traffic.

Don't take my word for it; read for yourself.  While it's OK to continue walking along the beach, ya can't go inland beyond this fence.

This diamondback terrapin became quite defensive as I attempted to take his picture. Perhaps he's Amish.

He was soon on the move again once he decided that I was just a nosy tourist.

As we approached the tip of the island the gull population increased.

Diaristwoman succeeded in capturing a close up of this brown Pelican.  He was one of three we saw.

At the north end one can see the water tank and other structures of Holgate in the distance.  Holgate is a community which forms the last few blocks of the town of Beach Haven which in turn is one of several towns along the southern end of Long Beach Island.  LBI is the next inhabited barrier island north of Brigantine.

Pullen Island is a small, uninhabited island in between Brigantine and LBI.  We used to sail our boats up from the yacht club and have picnics on Pullen Island.  Some members would also camp on the island after a couple of hard frosts in late fall knocked the bugs down to a tolerable level.  Now Pullen Island is completely restricted as a nesting area and you can't even beach a boat.
The inlet between Brigantine and Pullen Islands is unsurprisingly called Brigantine Inlet.  Unlike Absecon inlet at the south end of Brigantine, this inlet is marked "closed" on navigation charts because the Coast Guard makes no attempt to mark or maintain the channel which links the ocean to the bay at the north end of our island.  The sandbar in the inlet constantly changes depth and position but knowledgeable watermen can successfully shoot the cut as the next few photos of a boat moving through the inlet will show.

This boat is approaching the inlet from the bay side.

At first he splits the difference between the two islands.

Note the different shades of water color.  The water at this point of the inlet is a bit deeper over by Pullen this year.

At mid channel he cuts back towards the Brigantine side, but not too close!

The waves are breaking to his port and there's brown water to starboard.  The crew has an anxious moment as the skipper gives the depth sounder a close look.

The crew visibly relaxes once Rambler is over the bar, on the ocean side.

Continuing along we spot several types of seaweed.  I can't identify this one.  Anyone know?

I think this one is called Witch's Hair but I'm probably wrong.

This photo proves that oil pollution caused by ships pumping their bilges too close to shore is still common.  When I was a kid it was so bad that my brother and I had to wipe the tar off our feet with kerosene before we were allowed in the house.  Now the black stuff doesn't stick to your feet but it no doubt has a negative impact on the island's wild life.

A still life:  a whelk egg case with sea lettuce (I know sea lettuce when I see it!) and the red-brown seaweed seen in the earlier pix.

It's very peaceful here. Just the crash of the waves and the cries of the gulls.  Atlantic City with its hectic traffic and casinos seems a long way off.


  1. Replies
    1. And razor clams are one of life's finest pleasures.

    2. As kids we used to go at low tide and gather the blue mussels that hung on the jetty pilings like clusters of grapes. We used them for bait since even in those days people were afraid of the creosote.

    3. Who even says creosote any more? Chuckle.....

  2. On a hot summer day you can still smell that distinctive creosote smell coming off the older bulkheads and docks.

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