Jim Wright, who keeps this blog for the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, also writes a twice-monthly column for The South Bergenite. Here's his latest, on the upcoming free "Birding for Beginners" classes at DeKorte Park.
Interested in learning more about the amazing birds of the Meadowlands and the nature that awaits you just beyond your doorstep?
Over the next three Sundays, the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society are offering “Birding for Beginners.”
BCAS President Don Torino says the series of three free classes and nature walks are designed to help you getting to know and enjoy birds more, adding: “Another goal of the classes is to introduce people to the Meadowlands and show everyone know how great the birding is there.”
Torino says he enjoys the classes as much as the students. “This is our favorite event each year,” he says. “We love nothing better than to help beginners enjoy nature. We still have folks that go birding with us every weekend that started in our beginners class many years ago. It is a hobby that creates friends forever. I remember the look of many of our students when they saw a bald eagle for the first time — something I will never forget.”
The good news is we have already seen a bald eagle on one of our guided walks this month, and migratory birds are already flocking to the Meadowlands, with plenty of egrets and herons, tree swallows, and sandpipers for nature lovers to enjoy.
The classes begin this Sunday (April 15) in DeKorte Park’s Meadowlands Environment Center. From 1 to 1:30 p.m., Bergen Audubon will talk about the basics of bird identification. We’ll then go for a 90-minute bird walk in DeKorte to put our just-acquired birding tips to use.
The classes are open to new birders of all ages and skill levels, though Torino cautions: “Each session will start with a classroom lesson — we leave it up to the parents to decide if the kids would enjoy that part.”
On Sunday, April 22, Bergen County Audubon will talk about choosing the finding the binoculars that are best for you, and about spotting scopes – telescopes designed for birding that enable you to identify birds from great distances. They can sometimes come in handy in the Meadowlands! We’ll then go for a 90-minute bird walk in DeKorte and test-drive some binoculars and spotting scopes.
(Note: Sunday, April 22, is also Earth Day, and there’ll be a free slide show at 10 a.m. in the MEC on the endangered raptors of the Meadowlands, followed by a free bird walk. Pack a lunch and stay for the class at 1 p.m.)
On the third Sunday, April 29, the topic will be field guides, with a selection of birding guidebooks for this region available for display.
Although the final class won’t feature any graduation ceremonies, the newly fledged birders will get some great looks at some amazing birds, and they’re invited to stop by the MEC’s newly revamped Tideland Treasures Gift Shop to check out the birding books, Meadowlands T shirts and other nature-oriented items. All proceeds support MEC educational programming.