The contented person enjoys the scenery of a detour. – Author Unknown

I headed out of the house late this afternoon with scope and camera and no real plan about where I might end up. I was hoping to find the large rafts of scaup and goldeneye than I’d heard mentioned on the bird hotlines; the river had begun to freeze during the last few days of cold weather so I thought they might be hanging out in the bay, but there were only the usuals there.

I know of one other spot on the river where large groups of scaup often settle and set about trying to get there. The problem is access. While I live in an area surrounded by rivers and marshes and the ocean, it’s near impossible to get to any of them because of the multi-million dollar homes that line the shores of every waterway. I swear those views are wasted on the wealthy! We commoners have to settle for the view from the one public dock along the river or the bridge that spans it, but of course the ducks were nestled in that little cove beneath the castle on the far shore. The dead end street that runs beneath some of those mansions on the water is often a good place to see ducks close, but when I finally found my way there today and got ready to set up my scope – along came two fire trucks with sirens blazing, followed by a few police cars, and then the blue-light yahoos and off the ducks went to the far shore of the river.

But I did have this view from the day – from the bay side at Sandy Hook with the company of gulls and a few cold fisherman.

13 thoughts on “Detours”

  1. I’d like to think that I’m a contented person. (Unless I’m in a desperate hurry!) The picture is lovely but I understand the frustration of being kept from what you want to see. That’s the way it seems with the many lakes in Minnesota. Development of the shorelines has gone wild.

  2. A glimpse of the ocean would be a treat for me! We have an area in our city called Hidden Valley near “my” river. It is an environmentally sensitive area and the only place eagles have been seen in the region. It is now being developed for a subdivision of million dollar homes. All kinds of protests have done nothing to stop those out to make a profit.

  3. One of my enduring memories of NJ was trying to get to the ocean with some friends on a road trip, at night. We finally just paked on a dead-end street and went out on a private beach acting as if we belonged there, giving big friendly waves to the beach patrol. (Probably wouldn’t have worked if we hadn’t all been white.)

  4. Grrrr to those trucks and cars that had to scare the ducks just as you were getting ready to scope them out!
    Same thing with Lake Ontario – I live a mile from the lake and a mile from the bay and have very limited access to both because of the huge mansions. I keep trying to find new spots along both to look for birds.

  5. My aunt in CT says that there aren’t a lot of public beaches in her state for the same reasons you cite. I think it’s sad that a small group of people can monopolize so much natural beauty.

    You ended up with at least one cool-looking photo, though. That counts for something!

  6. I must be a contented person, too. I love detours. I have found neat places when the road doesn’t go where I think it goes.

    Stupid person had to go and catch something on fire and spoil your duck-viewing.

  7. Lynne: Mostly we have to settle for a peak between houses. Very unsatisfying.

    Ruth: That is an awful shame – will they name the subdivision “Eagle’s Den” or somesuch?

    Dave: Yes, it pays to act as if you belong. Although us locals can usual tell otherewise.

    Beach access isn’t so much a problem here on the northern part of the shore as I think it is in southern NJ. There are some stretches lined with beachclubs and condominiums, but in between we have lovely Asbury Park and Seaside Heights. 😉

    Naturewoman: It’s a challenge to find places without trespassing! What kills me is that many of the homes are empty during the winter months anyway.

    Bunnygirl: Close to home (and on the way to Sandy Hook) there is a stretch of land with the ocean on one side and the river on the other. And houses in the middle along the road. There’s a seawall that blocks access to the ocean and the homes block access to the river. Each home on the river side also has private rights to the stairs that go over the seawall on the ocean side – they don’t own the beach, just access to it. It’s maddening!

    Susan: The nerve of the them, I know! Never have I seen so much traffic on that little road.

  8. Your photo I would say is mood altering – I love the effects. Very nice.

    I would hope the people living in those waterfront mansions sincerely appreciate their own view of nature. Something makes me think they don’t.

    I regret not taking more time to appreciate the beauty of the ocean, rivers, bays in MD and DE. Now I miss it.

  9. I think all waterways should be public. There should be at least 100 foot public-access easement on all waterfronts. If the wealthy want to build their McMansions beyond that on the river or ocean, that’s fine, but they should have to put up with the public in their yard. Waterways support so much wildlife, it is an outrage that they can be privately owned.

    I saw my first Goldeneye about a month ago in Port Townsend Bay. It definitely has a very golden eye!

  10. I was by over the weekend, gawking and lurking. As usual, I got side tracked to various blogs from all the good linkage. Thanks gain for being such a splendid hostess all month.

    The thing about this post- I don’t think those people ought to be allowed to own big chunks of the shoreline anyway. And when their houses slide down the dunes we’ll all be bailing them out so they can rebuild bigger. GRRRR. Don’t get me started.

  11. Beautiful shot.
    I love waterfowl. Too bad the founding fathers (and mothers) didn’t reserve 75% of river watershed lands as a public resource.
    How different our world would be today.

  12. Mary: I think they must enjoy the views, but not in the same ways you or I might. Maybe they see nature as an abstraction, or as a pretty backdrop for their fabulous parties.

    Really, it’s awful that I should assume so much about people I’ve never met.

    Robin Andrea: You make an important point I think, in that some fair use should be available to all.

    Everyone else found the Goldeneye and Scaup yesterday according to reports – I don’t know why I didn’t find them. Probably spent too much time watching the fisherman!

    Vicki: That’s the purpose of the seawall in one town – they flood out anyway because of the river that’s in their backyard – but we pay to maintain the seawall and haul sand around so that they’ll have a beach of their very own.


    FC: I think there may be instances where private ownership can be a good thing – like quiet lakes in the north that keep boaters away. Mostly I think the mindset is to preserve ownership and use, rather than preservation for its own sake.

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