A big thank you to the two dozen hearty souls who braved the single-digit temps and chilly winds for today's bird walk — which featured a (distant) Rough-leg, a Bald Eagle (early and late) and great looks at a Gray Ghost and plenty of White-crowned Sparrows.
We will post a full list in the next couple of days. A thank you to Bergen Audubon for leading the walk with the Meadowlands Commission — and to Kevin Browne and Rob Fanning for bringing the extra scopes and eagle eyes.
Kevin reported three Long-tailed Ducks "tucked against the rocks with a raft of Canvasbacks on the far side near the towers. There was also an adult Bald Eagle sitting on the ice, and he dove into a bunch of mergansers on the other side of the turnpike. (I saw him dive, and mergansers went scattering everywhere.) There was a Golden-crowned kinglet right where we saw the pintail and canvasback. Also better looks at the 2 kestrels chasing a harrier."
Sunday's bird walk should be a blast — of freezing air. Please dress accordingly.
Even the ducks, like this Lesser Scaup seen Friday, are bundling up. Details on walk are here.
In honor of the Meadowlands' Jets team and in anticipation of the 2014 Super Bowl at the New Meadowlands Stadium, we had to share this shot of the Empire State Building (right) tonight, lighted in green in honor of a local pro football squad. This photo was taken from DeKorte Park.
Hard to believe, but Super Bird Sunday II is 16 nights away.
If you like snow, DeKorte Park should be a great place to visit this weekend. A blanket of several inches covers the park, and the Canvasbacks, Ruddies and other ducks have congregated along the shoreline of the Saw Mill Creek Mud Flats.
You can cross-country ski in the Lyndhurst Nature Reserve and go snowshoeing almost anywhere.
Just remember to dress warmly and stay dry — the weekend forecast is for cold weather, and the winds of the Meadowlands can make it seem even colder.
A free winter bird walk is scheduled for Sunday at 10 a.m. (see below). See you there.
With the Rough-legs making almost daily appearances on Disposal Road, we added a free nature walk for this Sunday, Jan. 23, at 10 a.m. at DeKorte Park.
We'll check Disposal Road for an array of raptors, from Rough-legs to Northern Harriers (like the Gray Ghost, above, photographed last weekend by Ron Shields) to American Kestrels — and we'll look for ducks as well.
The walk is brought to you by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society.
The Rough-leg at left, photographed earlier this month, is a frequent flier — we can distinguish it by the missing tail feather.
Stay tuned to this blog for the latest Meadowlands raptor sightings. Details follow.
Last week, we talked about the benefits of birding by snoeshoeing at DeKorte Park.We are thinking that Paula Dias may have done us one better. She writes, in anticipation of our next snowfall:
The challenge of winter for me has always been the cold and snow limiting my outdoor activities and causing me to hibernate.
This does not bode well for my love of nature and the outdoors. A close and wonderful nature fix for me is DeKorte Park. Not wanting the cold and snow to limit me, I ventured there after the last blizzard, trudging around almost knee deep in snow.
I ran into someone out on cross-country skis and was immediately inspired. The next day I dusted off my snowshoes which had been collecting dust for a couple of years. Dressed warmly head to toe in my snowboarding gear, I headed out.
Freedom! The snowshoes made walking atop three feet of snow a breeze. I could go virtually anywhere I wanted with ease and it was fun not to feel limited.
It was a whole new world. With my pocket digital camera I photographed untouched snow-covered beauty (photos top and bottom).
And what great exercise! It certainly beats being stuck indoors walking on a treadmill. I enjoyed the beauty of the icy white landscape and the company of myriad waterfowl, hawks, and other rare winter visitors like the White-crowned Sparrow.
No need to drive an hour to enjoy this fun winter sport, I discovered I could do it right here at DeKorte Park.
Mike Girone reports seeing a light-morph Rough-leg, 4 Northern harriers, a falcon trifecta, two Red-tails and a Muskrat on Disposal Road yesterday after 2 p.m.
His Muskrat (Happy Meal) shot is above, His full report follows. (Thanks, Mike!)
Ray Duffy reports seeing four Rusty Blackbirds at DeKorte Park's Kingsland Overlook this morning just before 9:30. (Thanks, Ray!)
This bird is especially noteworthy because, as New Jersey Birding points out:
The Rusty Blackbird has been steeply declining with estimates of an 85-99% population drop over the past 40 years.
The cause for this alarming decline is not known and the increasingly sparse and patchy winter distribution of the Rusty Blackbird makes it challenging to learn more about distribution, abundance, and ecology as a basis for conservation efforts.
A "Rusty Blackbird Hotspot Blitz" begins in nine days.
More info follows.
Here is NJMC Staffer Jim Wright's latest "Nature Next Door" column for The South Bergenite's latest editions:
As readers of this column know well by now, the N.J. Meadowlands Commission’s DeKorte Park is a great place to go birding.
But did you know that it is also a great place to go cross-country skiing and – better yet – bird-watching while cross-country skiing.
When Lyndhurst got seven inches of snow last week, I took advantage of the opportunity and brought both my binoculars and cross-country skis to DeKorte Park.
Dave Rotondi reports:
"Took a walk on Disposal Road Saturday morning. About 100 yards in from the Valley Brook Avenue entrance [and DeKorte Park entrance] I flushed a male Ring-necked Pheasant.
"It ran into the phrag far quicker than I could snap a picture though. I've always heard them, but this was my first visual." (Thanks, Dave!)
We have had similar sightings this month as well. The photo ar right is from last March, when we did a longer post about Ring-necked Pheasants in the Meadowlands — one of the few places they exist in the wild in New Jersey.
Link to that post is here.