Today is the 15th anniversary of the last flight of TWA Flight 800, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island on July 17, 1996.
One of the crew members on that flight was a young Rutherford resident named Jill Ann Ziemkiewicz, for whom DeKorte Park's beautiful butterfly garden is named.
Jill loved sunflowers, so it was only fitting that one grew and bloomed all on its own in the garden this summer in time for the anniversary.
Ron Shields reports:
I observed a single Black Skimmer Thursday night around 7:15 p.m. at the beginning of the Saw Mill Creek Trail. After working the mudflats, the skimmer perched on the exposed mud for about ten minutes.
As the tide rose, he flew off towards Harrier Meadow. Could he have been searching for calmer water? The wind was quite strong on the flats this evening. (Thanks, Ron!)
Ray Duffy reports:
I had another Northern Pintail sighting this evening at DeKorte. The bird was in the shorebird pool swimming by the first floating dock.
It was with a group of mallards. I'm not sure if it's the same bird as last week, it's possible it is going through a serious molt, but this one's head was much tanner and didn't seem to have any trace of neck stripes.
I also had a Short-billed Dowitcher in the middle of the phrag islands by the boardwalk. (Thanks, Ray!)
We had two more Variegated Fritillaries (one is pictured above) at DeKorte today — at Jill's Garden — as well as Black Swallowtail, Wild Indigo Duskywing (below), Monarch, Viceroy, Silver-spotted Skipper, Red Admiral and the usual sulphurs and Cabbage Whites.
Let's hope they stick around, and their buddies join them, for Butterfly Day on Sunday, July 24. It's free and family-friendly, and it runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
On Monday, this blog gave a tip of the hat here to the volunteers who recently removed the nasty, invasive Mile-a-Minute Weed at Skeetkill Creek Marsh.
By way of update, the head of the NJMC's Natural Resources Department, Dr. Ross Feltes, writes:
Mile-a-minute vine (MAM) is an invasive species that has become a significant problem for upland areas in the northeast U.S. and in the Meadowlands in particular.
Our Natural Resources staff have been working with N.J. Dept of Agriculture on biological control of this species. In recent years beetle larvae (photo above) have been released at Losen Slote and then Mill Creek Marsh for this purpose. The beetles eat only Mile-a-Minute.
According to Mark Mayer of NJDA, the beetles should be throughout the District in about three years and in five to 10 years MAM should no longer be a significant problem here.
Mike Newhouse and Gabrielle Bennett-Meany of the NJMC's Natural Resources staff have been assessing the activity of these beetles on MAM at sites as they conduct other studies and monitoring.
I asked them to stop at the Trust’s Skeetkill Marsh site Wednesday. They noted a conspicuous presence of the beetles on MAM. Though still present over many of the upland areas of the site, in their opinion the extent of MAM was much reduced relative to last year. [Thanks in part, no doubt, to the efforts of the volunteers.]
To be effective, it is necessary for the beetle population to grow at a site over successive years.
More on the beetles and Mile-a-Minute here.
We have been getting Least Terns and Forster's Terns (including juvenile Forster's Terns) the past couple of days.
The Least Terns are on the state's endangered list. Link is here.
Ron Shields writes:
Please find attached some images from the Kearny Marsh over the past weekend.
The Common Moorhens (above) have been putting on quite a show and have been seen and heard throughout the marsh.
Least Bitterns have been found in several locations and I was finally able to capture one with my camera ("on the jump").
The water level is dropping and, as a result, mudflats are now exposed and awaiting the influx of migrating shorebirds.
Ron's Bittern and Eastern Kingbird images follow.
We are not yet getting good butterflies in good numbers at DeKorte, but in the past 24 hours we have gotten a (partially chewed) female Pipevine Swallowtail (above), a Question Mark (below), and two Viceroys (one is at bottom), plus a Red Admiral, skippers, sulphurs and the old reliable Cabbage Whites.
Also had a Monarch and Black Swallowtail (photos available on request).
Kevin Bolton took this Digiscope shot earlier this — the turtle was one of a pair of behemoths at Mill Creek Marsh.
Yes, that is a female Cabbage White — congrats to Mike G. for answering correctly.