NJMC staffer Jim Wright, who keeps this blog, also writes a column every other Thursday for The South Bergenite.
His latest is a look back at 2011.
Here is the column:
Frequent bald eagle sightings, plenty of other amazing birds, plus a new park and launching ramp on the Hackensack River: With 2011 coming to a close, I thought that now might be the time to look back at the newsworthy events in the natural world in the Meadowlands over the past 12 months.
If you like to read good news, then read on.
After working in the Meadowlands and visiting its marshes and parks and natural for more than three years, I am still struck by the amazing wildlife that I see here on a regular basis.
For example, we added two new species of butterfly to our DeKorte Park checklist this year — a variegated fritallary and a pipevine swallowtail. Both are large exquisite butterflies and welcome additions to the Meadowlands menagerie.
We have also had a cavalcade of great birds passing through the region in the past year — including many that nested here as well. Here’s just a few of the unusual birds that drew bird-watchers to the Meadowlands this year: rough-legged hawk, sandhill crane, tricolored heron, little blue heron, curlew sandpiper, American avocet, red-necked phalarope
The bird that remains the ultimate crowd-pleaser, of course, is our national symbol, the bald eagle. Incredibly, we now see these magnificent raptors frequently – thanks in part to the fact that they nested successfully just outside the Meadowlands District this past spring.
Whenever we see a bald eagle (or as many as three) on our twice-monthly nature walks, even the most-jaded birder still gets excited. These birds are that big and that beautiful — and we sure hope they stay.
But an end-of-the year should also look to the future. One of the highlights of the year was the official dedication of the 5.5-acre River Barge Park in Carlstadt this fall. When the park opens in the spring, it will provide boat access to the Hackensack River from the western banks for the first time in decades.
In October, I launched my kayak at the park and did a quick paddle to a nearby marsh just up-river. I was immediately treated to great views of perched ospreys and great egrets, and got to see a couple of peregrine falcons overhead.
River Barge Park itself promises to be a great attraction as well, with a promenade overlooking the river, plenty of flowers and other plantings, and an outdoor environmental-education pavilion featuring a roof thatched with phragmites, the Meadowlands’ most common reed. The park promises to be a terrific destination. Visiting it in the fall was like watching the coming attractions in a movie theater — I can’t wait until it opens next spring.
In the meantime, here’s to a happy holiday season and a great start to 2012!