Last Sunday, I went, by myself, to the jetty at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park in New Jersey to photograph the Harlequins and other sea birds. Unfortunately, I slipped and
ended up inside the jetty, upside down and trapped between two fifteen foot, granite boulders. My feet were straight above me and I could not move. I tried for fifteen minutes
and finally had to give up. It took me another ten minutes to reach the cell phone in my back left hip pocket. When I opened it, it said “No Service!” I won’t tell you what I said.
Still, I was able to thumb in 9-1-1, speaker and then raised my left arm as high as I could (my right arm was pinned beneath me!) Thank God, the 9-1-1 service came on and
good old Ronnie was able to get the Coast Guard, the Barnegat Light Fire Department and the Barnegat Light First Aid Squad to come after me. It took them over an hour to
find me and I cannot describe how terrifying the wait was. Here was this foolish old man trapped inside a jetty, no one around, upside down with the tide coming in!
     In any event, all’s well that ends well and when I heard Vince’s voice and saw his red-helmeted face smiling at me…oh well, you know how I felt. It took six of them to carefully
lift me out of my predicament and get me to the ambulance headed to Southern Ocean County Hospital. Now I am
 back home with a bunch of stitches in my head, a bump on
the side of it the size of an orange; two black eyes; a broken wrist; a sore shoulder and a greatly damaged dignity. I will be ever grateful to 9-1-1, Nextel-Sprint, all the
Emergency volunteers who came to help me, and, of course, Dr. John Sullivan and the folks at Southern Ocean County Hospital who took such good care of me.
     We returned to the scene of the crime yesterday (March 22nd) so that I could, 1)walk the beach adjacent to the jetty to confront my fears, 2) of course, take some pictures, and
3) stop by the Barnegat Light Fire House to thank all those truly dedicated guys who rescued me two weeks ago.
All the photos captioned in red were taken on March 8th
and those captioned in green were taken yesterday.
     I wrote and posted this accounting of my ordeal at Barnegat for a couple of reasons, 1) to celebrate my very good fortune and survival, and 2) to try and warn others which,
in turn, would hopefully prevent them from making the same mistake that I did. I have also been asked by many how my camera, lens and binoculars fared and I am happy to
report that they all came through without a scratch. The three very graphic images of yours truly being trapped in the rocks and then being rescued were taken by Scott Ahern
and his wife Cindy. The Aherns were also birding at Barnegat and just happened to see all the emergency equipment and ruckus at the end of the jetty.

The Barnegat Lighthouse
  My Nemesis, The Jetty At Barnegat Inlet
The Understated Sign
Vince Holds My Hand                             Photo by Scott Ahern
  Rescue Squad Figuring Out What To Do Next          Photo by Scott Ahern
The Foolish Man Lives To See Another Day                      Photo by Scott Ahern
Much Ado About Nothing  Photo by Lou D. Gura
                            Between A Rock And A Hard Place
    (the Saga of how Howard fell Head over Heels for a Duck at the Jersey Shore!)

            To Barnegat, some Birds to view,
            And Photo Ops, perhaps, a Few;
            Dark Seas flow calm, the Weather fair,
            Both Harlequins and Shorebirds there;
            I left the Lighthouse far behind,
            And walked the Jetty, what to find;
            Savannah Sparrows on the Beach,
            Or Yellow-Rumps, my Lens might reach;
            While Turnstones, Ruddy, Mussels found,
            Formations, Dunlin, flew around;
            Wet Long-tailed Ducks would swim right by,
            Yet Herring Gulls are not too shy!

            I marched atop those algaed Rocks,
            And searched both Sides for feathered Flocks;
            My camera clicking, left and right,
            Sandpipers, Purple, framed in Light;
            Smart Fishermen stayed way, way back,
            Though Picture Takers just attack;
            I kept on going towards the End,
            Perhaps a Scoter or its Friend;
            Sad Beacon's Horn wails out to Sea,
            To warn the Ships, the Jetty, be;
            But Howard did his Mission press,
            All Caution to the Winds, I guess!

            Aha, a Common Eider, shows,
            But will it stay; but will it pose;
            My Camera swings, its Quarry spies,
            What happens next, to my Surprise;
            Both Feet slide out, as I recall,
            I cannot stop; I start to fall;
            Into a Hole, I disappear,
            Between huge Boulders, Granite sheer;
            I’m upside down,  
"   Please Help! "   I  shout,
            I hope to God, the Tide stays out;
            There’s no one there; no one can hear,
            I cannot move; I’m locked in Fear!

            “OK, Smart Guy, what do I do,”
            “The Rocks have got me, stuck, like Glue?”
            “I can’t get free; I know I’m hurt,”
            “I’ve got to try, to stay alert;”
            “My Cell Phone’s in my Pocket, deep,”
            “If I can get this Thing to beep;”
            “It’s in my Hand, ‘
NO SERVICE’ shows,”
            “Don’t drop it now; stay on your Toes;”
            “So 9-1-1, is what I’ll try,”
            “Now lift your Arm and hold it high;”
            “Then 9-1-1 came on the Line,”
            “Thank God, they're there, all will be fine!”

            A Ronnie asks, “Where are you now?”
            “I’m in the Jetty, trapped , somehow;”
            “At Barnegat, out towards the Beach!”
            “It will take Time, for you, to reach!”
            “Keep talking, though, they’re on their Way,”
            “And just stay calm; it helps to
            Brave Firemen came,
“Are you OK?”
            “Right now, I am, thank you!”
I’d say;
            They got me to the ER fast,
            And stitched me up, put on a Cast;
            Then sent me Home, as was their Plan,
            This foolish, yet, a grateful Man!

            As Morals of a Story go,
            There are some Things, you ought to know:
            Please don’t take Risks; just act your Age,
            It’s Common Sense, you must engage;
            When Birding, do not go alone,
            Make sure you’ve always got your Phone;
            Most Heads and Boulders do not mix,
            Some Things a Doctor cannot fix;
            We're fragile Folks, still Flesh and Bone,
            So stay off Jetties made of Stone;
            Oh yes, I’ve really learned a Lot,

And yes, I also got the Shot!

 Common Eider Drake

And here are more photos taken from my favorite jetty of some of the other beautiful sea ducks
and shorebirds. Please click on either the captions or the thumbnails to see a larger image...thanks!

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 © Howard B. Eskin 2009                                                                                                                                        Revised May 12th, 2009


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