What's In Bloom?, NJ Barry Caselli
May 16, 2009

First I went into Egg Harbor City to buy something for lunch. While in town I photographed a very nice 1977 Dodge Royal Monaco (mentioned for you 70s car fans). Then I went up the road I live off of, to where it becomes a dirt road, and drove into the wildlife management area. I went partly to eat lunch in the woods and partly to check on how far along the Turkeybeard are. I parked my truck right before the dirt road goes into the cedar swamp. Just before I parked I saw some Pine Barrens Heather in bloom, though not in *full* bloom. I walked over to the junk wood pile that someone dumped a long time ago, and saw one of my little friends, an Eastern Fence Lizard. Several weeks ago I got some good closeup photos of 2 of them (it took lots of patience and time). I then walked past the wood pile and up the path to see the Turkeybeard. Several more had sent up flower stalks, and the flowers are starting to appear now. At one point I walked past some
 Mountain Laurel and saw the beginnings of flower buds. I'm sure the Mountain Laurel all over the Pine Barrens will be in full bloom by mid-June.
I then walked into the cedar swamp to where there is the remains of an old corduroy road. There is enough of an opening in the tree canopy there for pitcher plants and sundews to grow. I found round-leaf sundews and pitcher plants, though I couldn't get close enough to the pitcher plants to take good photos. I walked back to my truck and drove back down our road again. Before I reached the paved road I scared up 5 Turkey Vultures. So I stopped the truck and shut off the engine and watched them awhile. Then I got going again. After getting on the paved road I stopped where there's a stream and a cedar swamp. On the right side of the road there's a stream running along the road itself. There I saw tons of lance-leaf violets, all in bloom. I then drove to a particular road in Egg Harbor City where there is a bog next to the road, to see if I could photograph sundews. There I found spatulate-leaf sundews. It's too early in the year for orchids, such as
 Rose Pogonia and White Fringed Orchid, both of which grow there.
I then turned down another dirt road and drove through the ghost town of Gloucester Furnace, where there is tons of Prickly Pear Cactus and tons of Sickle-leaf Golden Aster. It's too early in the year for either of those to be blooming though. I continued along this dirt road and drove by the recently burned forest, and took some more pictures. The Bracken (fern) is now coming up througout. I got on another road and drove across Galloway Township, into Port Republic where I bought something to drink at the general store. Then headed back west again. At one point I passed a wild turkey walking around next to the road. It's unusual to see just one though. It's more normal to see at least half a dozen, or even 12-15 or more. Also on the same road I stopped to help a turtle across the road (and take his picture). I have to get out my field guides to see what kind he was.
I drove to the Batsto/Pleasant Mills Church (I showed pictures of it here before, I think). I walked into the woods on the dirt road that starts next to the church. The bridge is closed to vehicular traffic for some reason, so I can't drive in from there. This is Wharton State Forest. I walked in and got onto the nature trail. Almost right away I saw a snake, very quickly. I'm quite sure he was a Black Racer, and pretty good sized. I then saw the foot bridge where the beavers had built a dam all along the bridge and caused flooding, which after some heavy rain, caused damage to the bridge. I continued down the nature trail and found some Sand Myrtle (in bloom), and tons of Pine Barrens Heather (some of it in bloom), and tons of Pine Barrens Sandwort (not in bloom yet). After I was done with the nature trail I headed back to my truck and found two Pink Lady's Slipper orchids, both in bloom. I also found what I think is the second largest Pitch Pine
 I've seen yet. I estimate the CBH to be over 6 feet. The biggest I've ever found is 6'10" I think. I did not measure this tree though. I just took one picture of the trunk. Then before getting in my truck I photographed the big old Post Oaks in the cemetery. I was worried about them last year after the defoliation from Gypsy Moth caterpillers, but the trees are still going strong. They are the largest and oldest Post Oaks I know of anywhere, but I have not measured any of them (it's funny, I never thought to). After taking the picture I went home.
So there you have it- no reports of monster trees, but lots of cool plants and animals.


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