Taking in a Winter Beach Scene

Weathered wooden fence on beach lined with dried sea grasses in winter.

When one normally thinks of a beach scene, it’s populated with people enjoying the warm summer sunshine, blue skies and warm waters. Activities abound on both sand and ocean. It’s a busy and often crowded place to be. Living on both the East and West coasts, I spent may days indulging in the sand, surf and sun.

But come winter time, a beach takes on a much different persona. Devoid of people – the crowds long gone, it becomes open space. Seagulls dot the shoreline at low tide in search of crustaceans, clams and other tidbits that may wash in. People’s lunches are no longer part of their menu fare or even an option for that matter!

Depending on which coast you may be on as well as which state, a winter beach scene and its corresponding coastline may look completely different. In this case, these photos are from one of the mid-Atlantic states – the south Jersey shore to be exact.

Sunny, Cold and Windy – But Still Beautiful

sandy beach path to ocean in winter
The sandy path to the shoreline on a sunny, cold winter day.

My winters these days are primarily spent in more snowy, mountainous or high desert  terrain. Being from NJ, I’m proud of my roots. But this time being in South Jersey in the dead of winter was certainly not a planned event. Just getting out of Colorado for this trip was challenging enough due to the weather. However, life circumstances had prevailed and it was a deeply personal and tenuous time.

Seeking refuge from the turmoil, and the fact that the beach was little over a block away, the thought of taking some photos offered a temporary reprieve. So bundled up and with camera in tow, off I went.

Devoid of People – Just Sun, Sand and Water

calm ocean on a sunny winter day at low tide
At low tide, a calm Atlantic ocean with the winter sun reflecting off its waters.

A stroll along the beach in search of photo ops began with checking the tides. They can definitely dictate what may be ideal and I was looking for low tide. However, as always, Mother Nature will rule the roost when it comes to the wind and cold. Thankfully I had brought along my wool long-underwear and I needed them! Despite the brisk conditions, the sunny day was inviting.

It had been many moons since I had been to the Jersey shore – especially in winter. Given my state of mind at the time, I welcomed the absence of people. The calm Atlantic Ocean with the sun reflections off its waters against a blue sky was soothing. The low tide was perfect for walking along the shoreline and capturing some peaceful moments.

Familiar Fishing Piers and Seagulls

fishing pier extending out into ocean at low tide
Fishing pier with seagulls dotting the shoreline on a sunny winter day.

Continuing the stroll, I encountered the familiar fishing piers I knew so well from my youth. Usually these piers would be full of surfers – on the ready to catch the next wave. But this was winter and the Atlantic on this day was calm and cold. Being all too familiar with the Atlantic’s more turbulent nature it was rather serene.

As ii often the case, seagulls take their respective places along the shoreline. While in the summer they can be such an annoyance. However, in a winter beach scene they belong there. The wintering residents of the beaches scouring the shoreline for tasty ocean morsels.

seagull eating a horseshoe crab at low tide
A seagull making an easy meal of a washed up horseshoe crab.

Horseshoe crabs tend to wash in. Such ancient and prehistoric looking creatures they are. Their fates may be sealed should they find themselves stranded at low tide. Seagulls, forever the opportunists, waste no time in making one a meal!

Wandering Along a Barrier Island

wooden pathway leading down to beach
Wooden pathway leading down to the beach.

Growing up on what is technically a barrier island (Absecon Island to be exact), walking along the beach you can wander into neighboring cities. Unless you’re familiar with the landmarks, you likely won’t even realize that you’ve crossed from one city to another.

Heading north the beginning of the boardwalk is a tell tale sign – although history shows that it once spanned further than it does today.

As it had been some time since I’d been along the south Jersey shore, these wooden pathways down to the beach were new to me.

I love the look of weathered wood and found these pathways rather inviting. Another opportunity to explore.

It was nice to see that they had finally allowed sand dunes to more naturally form to help with beach erosion. For years they would plow them down. I remember them doing so as a kid. Never quite understood the theory behind that?

In Contemplation, a Solo Seagull…

A solitary seagull stands by a fishing pier
A solitary seagull having a quiet moment.

Walking along the beach in winter can be much like a meditation. At the very least the crisp, salty air can help clear your head.

This photo of a solo seagull resonated with me on a very deep level. As if away from its noisy counterparts, it was having a moment of peace. Perhaps it was contemplating its next meal? The pier in the background with calm ocean waters is something I could certainly relate to.

Much like the cacophony of seagulls, life can be very noisy at times. Given the personal circumstances that lay ahead and the intensity of their nature, there was much for me to contemplate. However, it was also an opportunity to simply be in the present – like the seagull, and have a moment of peace. 

I was grateful for some much needed time outdoors. Taking in a winter beach scene and capturing a few photos of my current landscape was a pleasant change. A temporary, but much needed redirect.

My stroll continued along the beach ultimately till the wind and cold drove me and my camera away from the blowing sand. A reminder that sand gets everywhere even in winter 🙂

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