Daily Archives: January 12, 2012

DeKorte Common Goldeneye Continues

Yes, we know the pic looks like one of those fuzzy pics of the Loch Ness Monster, but the weather was icky and the bird was distant. If you squint long enough your can see the eponymous golden eye.

Seen on the far side of Teal Pool (toward the Saw Mill Creek Trail) around 2:20. It flew to the Saw Mill Creek tidal impoundment around 2:30 p.m.

Our Latest ‘Wild New Jersey’ Post

Raven NJMC JWOur "Focus on the Meadowlands" post on the wildnewjersey.tv blog features:

* One of the Common Ravens at Laurel Hill County Park, photographed last week. We hope to see them againn on our guided walk next Tuesday. (Scroll down for details.)

* Another nifty DeKorte Sunset

* The Horned Grebe we keep looking for at DeKorte — not seen since the Christmas Bird Count.

The link is here.

Our Latest South Bergenite Column: Laurel Hill

Jim Wright, who keeps this blog, also writes a twice-monthly nature column for The South Bergenite. Here’s his latest, on Laurel Hill County Park.

 Laurel Hill County Park in Secaucus is a great place to view nature any time of year, but few people realize that it’s a pretty cool place in mid-winter — if it’s not too cold, that is.

The 70-acre park, located at the south end of town along the Hackensack River, features great water views, plenty of winter birding and Laurel Hill itself, that huge cliff  that can be seen from almost anywhere in the Meadowlands.

“Even in the coldest temperatures of winter, Laurel Hill is one of the only places where you can find open water and waterfowl in the water,” says New Jersey Meadowlands Naturalist Gabrielle Bennett-Meany.

According to Bennett-Meany, the best places to look for the waterfowl are along the shore line and the distant marsh and tidal impoundments to the south.

“You might see Ruddy Ducks along the shore, or an occasional rare grebe,” Bennett-Meany says. “We often see Common Mergansers — a dynamic, sleek duck — swimming in the impoundment just south of the N.J. Turnpike Bridge, but you’ll want to bring a spotting scope.”

This time of year, you’ll have a good chance of seeing Common Ravens flying near the cliff. These beautiful, huge black birds have nested here for several years, and they should start getting their nest in order again any day now.

One other winter attraction for bird-watchers: Great Cormorants like to perch on the old railroad bridge toward the park’s south end. The winter is the prime time to these fish-eating birds in the Meadowlands.

For Bennett-Meany and many other folks, Laurel Hill is a special place because of all the history that holds. Once known as Snake Hill, the site housed most of Hudson County’s institutions, including a penitentiary, a poor house and an insane asylum.

“This park is a favorite place for me because of all that history,” she says. “There is so much history about the park and the area that many people don’t know.  I especially enjoy the connectedness that people once had to it being a natural resource, for food, recreation and shelter. Life today differs from how it may have been 100 or so years ago.”

Although the park is visible from many places in the Meadowlands, it can be hard to find. For directions, go to the Meadowlands Commission’s nature blog, meadowblog.net, and check the left-hand column.

Better yet, join the NJMC and the Bergen County Audubon Society on a free guided nature walk at Laurel Hill County Park next Tuesday (Jan. 17). The two-hour walk starts at the ball field parking lots at 10 a.m., or you can carpool from DeKorte Park at 9:30 a.m.

Just be sure to dress warmly — the winds down by the river can get mighty cold. To register or get more information, contact the BCAS’ Don Torino at greatauk4@aol.com or 201-230-4983.