|Winter at Sandy Hook Bay and Navesink River
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Two of many waterfowl on the small pond at the junction of Hartshorne Road and Grand Tour near Hartshorne
One of several swans on Navesink River near Hartshorne Woods Park at sunset time.
We came to Sandy Hook Bay and Hartshorne Woods Park area in Middletown near Highlands, New Jersey to
enjoy sunset views and bird watching on January 2, 2012.
Many brants (geese) on the lagoon between Plum Island and Hartshorne Drive in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. It
was a very windy and cold day with rough waves even in Sandy Hook Bay. Many brants stayed in this
sheltered calm lagoon with less waves.
落日為雲彩鑲上金邊，灼灼閃光， 霞光四射，夕陽晚霞， 詩情畫意，
Gorgeous view of sunset over Navesink River as viewed from Hartshorne Woods Park at about 248
Hartshorne Road in Middletown, New Jersey near the junction of Hartshorne Road and Grand Tour
near Highlands, New Jersey on January 2, 2012.
Two of several swans on Navesink River near Hartshorne Woods Park
Five of many waterfowl on Navesink River near Hartshorne Woods Park.
Cloudy, windy and cold afternoon of January 2, 2012 over Sandy Hook Bay as viewed from Sandy Hook, New
Some Brants (geese) in flight in Sandy Hook, New Jersey.
More brants in the lagoon.
Many seabirds (may be Scoter or Scaup) were bobbing up and down on the rough waves in Sandy Hook Bay.
They dived into the water from time to time to eat something.
After enjoying watching the seabirds and the spectacular sunset views, we went to the Chinese Restaurant
"Asian Taste" in Airport Plaza at 1358 State Route 36 in Hazlet, New Jersey to enjoy a nice dinner. Airport
Plaza is at the junction of State Route 36 and Middle Road.
A map of and directions to Sandy Hook in Middletown/Highlands in New Jersey are available on my web page
A list of several good locations for bird watching and bird photography in winter season in or near New Jersey
is on my web page at:
On February 3, 2008, we visited Sandy Hook when it was not very windy and saw thousands of seabirds
floating on the calm Sandy Hook Bay as shown on this picture. It is called massive raft of seabirds that
extends beyond both to the left side and the right side of this picture for very long distance on the Sandy Hook
Zoom in for a closer view of a section of the massive raft of seabirds floating on Sandy Hook Bay. However,
the zooming power of my camera in 2008 was still not powerful enough for me to see what kinds of seabirds
were in such massive raft (may be Scaup).
Some other seabirds were closer to the shore for us to see more clearly.
In late March and early April, many large sea birds, gannets, begin to migrate north along American
east coast towards their summer breeding grounds in eastern Canada. There are good opportunities in
early spring to see many gannets in action on Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay and Delaware Bay as
shown at the following websites:
The sun in the early spring warms the water in the Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay and Delaware Bay,
and the sun thaws out the mud and soil in wetlands. Additionally, spring rains discharge nutrients and
food into the water in these bays. All these activities help to create vast populations of plankton in the
water in these bays, which in turn help to feed many small fish, such s herring. Plankton rich food in
these bays, along with warmer water temperatures, attract large schools of fish, such as Alewife,
Blueback Herring and Shad in Atlantic ocean, to enter into Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay and Delaware
Bay. For the several weeks in early spring, these fish have been waiting patiently off the coast of New
Jersey for just the right conditions to enter these bays to feed, and then to head upstream to
freshwater portions of the Navesink River, Shrewsbury River, Raritan River and Delaware River to
These large schools of fish in early spring attract many migrating gannets to enter these bays in
pursuit of herring, mackerel, menhaden, and other prey.
Therefore, the last week of March and the first week of April provide excellent opportunities for bird
watchers to see many gannets in action in these bays as shown on the 3 websites listed above.
More photos and commentaries on Winter in Sandy Hook are available on May Lee's web page at:
In the winter of 2012 when we visited the town of Highlands near Sandy Hook Bay, a man told us that there
are often seals on the sand bar in Sandy Hook Bay in the winter season. But I have never seen them
previously. On March 3, 2013, we came to Mt. Mitchill Scenic Overlook in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey to
enjoy the panoramic view of Sandy Hook Bay and New York Skylines. We were very happy this time to see
many seals on a sand bar in Sandy Hook Bay as shown in this picture by using my new compact super-zoom
camera (Canon PowerShot SX50 HS) with 50X optical zoom to zoom in because the sand bar and those seals
are very far away (about 2 miles).
Map: Click here for interactive Google Map showing location of Mt. Mitchill Scenic Overlook
In addition to those seals sun bathing on the sand bar, these two pictures seem to indicate that there are
additional seals swimming in the water near the sand bar.
We then drove to the nearby Navesink River at Hartshorne Woods Park at about 248 Hartshorne Road in
Middletown, New Jersey near the junction of Hartshorne Road and Grand Tour near Highlands, New Jersey
on March 3, 2013 and we saw many waterfowl in the river.
Then I zoomed in to get closer views of these waterfowl in the river.
It seems that these waterfowl are Lesser Scaup.
Oceanic Bridge over Navesink River as viewed from 248 Hartshorne Road, Rumson/Highlands, New Jersey
Wonderful view of the pond with reflection at sunset time near the junction of Hartshorne Road and Grand Tour
near Highlands, New Jersey.
Panoramic view of Sandy Hook Bay from Mt. Mitchill Scenic Overlook. The sand bar where seals are sun
bathing is the light corlor patch in the middle of this picture. It is so far away such that naked eyes cannot see
those seals on the sand bar without the aid of powerful binoculars or telescope. Regular cameras without
powerful zoom also cannot get the pictures of those seals on the sand bar. No wonder that I had never seen
those seals in Sandy Hook Bay in previous years.
I zoomed in a little bit on this picture so that the curved sand bar can be seen more clearly. The seals are not
on the wide portion of the sand bar, but are on the curved narrow right arm of the sand bar. I had to use the
entire 50X optical zoom of my camera to zoom all the way in to be able to get the pictures of those seals on
the sand bar in the pictures shown above. There are coin operated public binoculars at Mt. Mitchill Scenic
Overlook for visitors to use.
This is the map of Sandy Hook Bay on the Interpretive Display on Mt. Mitchill Scenic Overlook Park. The sand
bar where seals are sun bathing corresponds to the Skeleton Hill Island on this Interpretive Display. However,
recent severe Hurricane Sandy wiped away all the greenery on this small island, and changed its shape into
the curved sand bar shown in the two pictures above.
Direction to Mt. Mitchill Scenic Overlook County Park:
1. On Highway 36 (Memorial Parkway) in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, turn north into Orchard Avenue
2. After about 500 feet at the junction of Orchard Avenue, Scenic Dr. and Ocean Blvd., turn left (west) into
Ocean Blvd. and go west along the curving road for about 1,000 feet, turn right (east) into Mt. Mitchill Scenic
Overlook County Park.