I haven’t had much time in the swamps this year, but I was going through old pics and found this gem. The frog escaped, btw.
Some things change for the better. Some things change for the worse. Some things….just change.
The place I lovingly call “my swamp”, probably, fits into the last category, but I’m not ready to let go of what it once was.
When I first happened upon it in the spring of 2007, it was a vibrant place, teeming with life. That’s not to say it isn’t now. It’s just different.
This was my happy place, the place where I began my journey as a nature photographer. It was a place of surprises and wildlife encounters of the too close kind (see https://thejerseyphiles.com/2015/03/12/i-didnt-know-what-to-do-so-i-shot-her/). It was a place of mystery and learning and fun.
From great shots made to great shots missed, it was an endless source of joy and entertainment. Endless, that is, until August 28, 2011. That’s the day that hurricane Irene slammed into the Garden State, bringing with her torrential rains and record flooding.
The road to the swamp had been closed because of widespread damage to the roadway and bridges, but I decided to sneak up and see how “my swamp” had fared. This is what I found:
The force of all the water had blown a hole in the beaver dam that had created the swamp in the first place. I was devastated but told myself, “The beavers will rebuild. They have the technology. They have the capability.”
I had seen it in other places. Why not here? Here’s why. This quarter mile portion of creek had a series of beaver dams, and this section had already been abandoned by the beavers. They were happily residing farther upstream above another dam. But I returned week after week, hoping, yet knowing.
Although I was able to see things that I would not have seen if this spot had still been underwater, my visits became less frequent.
Then one day I found that someone had stolen the ladder stand I had overlooking the swamp, and that took the rest of the wind out of my sails. I’ve rarely gone since then. As a matter of fact, yesterday was the first time I had visited this year.
It’s quite beautiful.
Still, I don’t have a feel for it anymore. It had a schedule and a rhythm that I could count on and that I loved. This I don’t know. And so I’m torn. Is it time to become reacquainted or to just let go?
BUTTERFLY WEED is a bushy plant belonging to the milkweed family and sports clusters of bright-orange flowers. Butterflies are attracted to its bright color and bountiful production of nectar. It is the larval food of the the queen and monarch butterflies and also attracts hummingbirds, bees and other insects. It can be found in fields, meadows and along roadsides.
It is also commonly referred to as orange milkweed and chigger flower. Because Native Americans used to chew on its tough root to treat pleurisy and other pulmonary ailments, it is sometimes called pleurisy root.
GREAT SPANGLED FRITILLARIES are medium sized butterflies that can fly very quickly. They are very similar to the Aphrodite fritillary but can be distinguished by the wide, yellow band between the silver spangles on the underside of the hind wing. This band is much narrower on the Aphrodite.
These butterflies nectar on milkweeds, thistles, Joe-Pye weed, red clover, alfalfa, dogbanes and many other midsummer wildflowers. They mate in June or July, and the female lays her eggs in August or September.
The Delaware Water Gap NRA is on of the best places to see these beautiful butterflies in the NY, NJ, PA tristate area.
The Pinelands Preservation Alliance has just launched Pinelands Adventures in Shamong, New Jersey. Starting Saturday, May 2, they will be offering, among other adventures, guided kayaking/canoeing tours of the Mullica and Batsto Rivers.
You can win the “Explorer’s Package” Trip for two by entering here.
There is a volunteer project this Saturday, April 2, 2015, to do cleanup and to work on the gardens between 11am and 1pm. Interested individuals should meet at the Stony Lake Pavilion off of Coursen Rd. Map
For more info about Friends of Stokes State Forest, click here.