Jim Wright of the Meadowlands Commission, who maintains this blog, writes the "Nature Next Door' column every other Thursday for The South Bergenite. His latest column is about the Meadowlands Nature Blog's latest milestone.
This week, the Meadowlands Nature Blog – meadowblog.net — reaches a major milestone. In less than two-and-a-half years, the blog has reached 200,000 page views, mostly on buzz generated by word of mouth.
The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission asked me to create the blog in the summer of 2008 for two reasons: To give the public an easy way to learn about nature and free nature-related NJMC events and to celebrate the district’s amazing environmental resurgence.
From the beginning, the idea has been to post a new item about nature in the Meadowlands every weekday, using striking photography to underscore the natural beauty that abounds here – and to refute those stubborn stereotypes of the region as one big dump.
Along the way, the blog has expanded to alert the public when rare birds arrive and to showcase local photographers’ timely photos – from amazing birds in the Kearny Marsh to a misty morning along the Marsh Discovery Trail at DeKorte Park. We want readers of the blog to not only enjoy it but to participate in it.
We also have a weekly feature called the Tuesday Teaser, which has featured everything from unusual butterflies to Chinese snuff bottles with nature scenes. And we post monthly updates about the free programming available at DeKorte Park’s McDowell Observatory and Flyway Gallery.
The blog’s array of subjects in the past few weeks reflects the amazing biodiversity of the district: rare warbler sightings, free nature walks at Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus and DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, the return of the ravens to Secaucus’ Laurel Hill County Park, and a snapping turtle on Disposal Road in North Arlington.
The word about the blog is definitely getting around. At the very beginning, we averaged maybe 30 page views a day. For the past six months we have averaged roughly 10,000 page views a month – or more than 330 a day.
Our most popular items have been rare bird sightings with photographs. When we got such rare species as a northern wheatear, a northern shrike, a black-necked stilt and an American avocet, our page views have more than doubled.
Think of the nature blog as a gateway to the natural resources located just beyond your door step. Need a place to take out-of-town guests who love nature and bird-watching? The blog can tell you what free events are coming up, and what birds are around these days.
If you’ve been procrastinating about coming to one the Meadowlands Commission’s parks, please check out the blog and see what you’ve been missing.