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Denise Ippolito

Written By onci on Thursday, September 23, 2010 | 1:02 PM


 The Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, NJ
which is located at the northern end of Long Beach Island is where you will find the famed “Barnegat Jetty”

If you are a birder or bird photographer as I am, this is a must visit destination during the winter. Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstone, Black-bellied Plover, Sanderling and Herring Gull can all be viewed easily from the jetty. 

Horned Lark and Snow Bunting can usually be seen on the sand dunes.  In some years Snowy Owls have been spotted on the dunes.  The water way is a great place to see Harlequin Ducks, Long-tailed Ducks (formerly called Old Squaw), Common Loons, Red-throated
Loons, Red-breasted Mergansers, Surf Scoters, Black Scoters, Common Eider and Brant. 
Last winter I saw several Harbour Seals. I was able to create some great images of a few that were sun bathing on the rocks. I did see one small seal that was bleeding from it’s tail and side. I’m not sure if it was hit by a boat that was going through the inlet or from a fight with another seal.
The Harlequin Ducks often preen themselves and rest on the rocks, if you are patient and slow moving you will be rewarded with some great intimate shots. There is a colony of 25-30 Harlequin Ducks that over winter at Barnegat.  Jetty photography has some unique issues to deal with. For one thing the rocks are spaced unevenly and that will make using your tripod more difficult. I always use a sturdy tripod and I have learned to be very careful where I place the legs. Sometimes the rocks are slippery and they can also be icy. Be careful where you walk. Knowing what rocks are wet or slippery (from algae) is important. Good shoes with a strong grip are important. A lot of fishermen wear  spiked shoes similar to golf shoes. I wear Merrell hiking shoes with a Vibram outsole. 

During the winter it is important to dress warmly. I wear gloves, a hat, a scarf and a down jacket. I also wear water proof pants over top of my jeans. Sometimes you will need to sit in duck muck, water or even ice to get the shot. I know a lot of photographers that shoot at the jetty and never kneel or sit. They are still able to produce lovely images. When I am photographing birds in flight I stand. I recommend going with a friend. It can be dangerous to be alone on the jetty in case you fall. I remember one elderly gentleman who was alone and fell between the rocks. He used his cell phone to dial 911. He was lucky he brought his phone.
The Long-Tailed ducks often fly back and forth through the inlet. They often fly close to the jetty  to take advantage of the very swift currents. This makes photographing the ducks at fairly close range much easier. 
Some interesting facts about
 Sea Ducks:
 They are capable of diving to depths of 200 feet.
Many sea duck species have specialized salt glands
that help them tolerate salt water.
Their feathers are thicker and have more down to provide
insulation against  severe cold. 
They eat primarily fish, crustaceans and mollusks.
 Three out of the four migratory birds on the endangered species
 list are sea ducks.

 Sea Ducks are the least studied group of North America waterfowl. Harlequin Ducks are on the endangered and threatened sea ducks list according to The Sea Duck Joint Venture. Here is a link to their site for some more in-depth information http://seaduckjv.org/endangthreat.html

Direction to Barnegat Lighthouse:
        Take Garden State Parkway South to Exit 63 to Highway 72 East for Manahawkin and Island Beach
       Go over the bridge into Island Beach/Ship Bottom
        Turn left (north) onto Long Beach Blvd north /N. Central Ave
which  will become Central Avenue
        Go north for about 8 miles all the way to end of Central Ave, then Turn left 
             (west) onto 4th Street west. Turn right onto Broadway (north) The Park entrance is on the right at the corner of Broadway and 3rd Street.

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, New Jersey
  (609) 494-2016

The parking lot closes at 4:30pm sharp and your car WILL get locked in if you are not back in time to get your car out.  I recommend parking outside of the main parking lot. There are several parking spaces that are in front of the main gate. 

The Park Office building next to the parking lot has public restroom facilities. The restrooms and office are closed on holidays.
For additional information about the park
Join me and Roman Kurywczak Saturday December 18th (rain-date 19th) for a half-day workshop at Barnegat Jetty in New Jersey. Barnegat is a great birding and photography spot during the winter months.  Afternoon session available.  $195.00  dinner included.
This is a very popular workshop and should sell out soon.  Early booking is advised.
e-mail me  for more details.

or visit my blog


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