The William D. McDowell Observatory in DeKorte Park begins a new month of programming on Monday night.
Free public access is from 8 to 10 on Monday and Wednesday nights this month — weather permitting, of course.
Dress for the weather; with the dome open, you are basically outside.
Each evening at least two major objects in the night sky will be viewed, plus one or two other celestial objects or events depending on the observing conditions.
For more information about free public viewing nights and to check out the observatory's website, click here.
For a recent South Bergenite column by the NJMC's Jim Wright about the observatory, click here.
To figure out what we might be seeing in the Meadowlands in March, we thought we'd look back to last year.
Here are some highlights (click on text to see the full post):
Here are some highlights from April (click on text to see the full post):
April 5: More 'Mazin' Meadowlands Mammals
April 9: Meadowlands Birds Checklist Online
April 12: Jeff Nicol's Meadowlands Photos
April 13: Little Blue @ Harrier Meadow
April 18: The Ultimate Tree Swallow Nesting Box
April 21: Horned Grebe and Snowy Egret Pix (Roy Woodford's photo is at right)
April 23: Not Just Another Pretty Face Part II
April 27: Kearny Marsh Report (Ron Shields' photo is above)
We saw this Ring-necked Pheasant Thursday afternoon, hanging out at the entrance to DeKorte Park. Photographed him from a vehicle so as not to flush him.
We saw the Red-necked Grebe on Thursday morning — it was once again providing passersby insanely wonderful views.
West Hudson Park itself is a nice little oasis iotself — thought we'd provide a photo so you get a feel for the place.
No telling how much longer the grebe will be there, so if you get the chance…
To get to park, click here and then enter where you are coming from. Park in lot on left, and walk under bridge to pond where the grebe has been seen.
We have not had any new submissions from photographers, so this is just a head's up that next Monday's "Photography Showcase" is a bit amateurish compared to the excellent photography we have had thus far.
We apologize in advance, and hope no one's feelings will be hurt.
Ron Shields of Kearny photographed this Osprey eating a fish dinner on March 17 of this year.
Jim Wright, who keeps this blog for the Meadowlands Commission, also writes a twice-monthy column for the South Bergenite. Here's his latest, on Ospreys.
For bird-lovers, there are four guaranteed signs of spring in the Meadowlands: killdeer, tree swallows, great egrets and ospreys.
The killdeer arrived near DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst in mid-February. The tree swallows followed suit two weeks later. On Saturday, March 16, came the first great egret.
Then, last week, came perhaps the best news of all. Photographer Ron Shields e-mailed me to say that he had seen his first osprey of the year – eating a fish on top of a pole on Disposal Road, not far from DeKorte Park.
Ron’s comment: “I believe that's a white perch on the menu.” [See the accompanying photo].
As far as we know, this particular osprey did not stick around. But several sure did last spring, including a pair that successfully nested on a nesting platform on Berry’s Creek along Valley Brook Avenue. It was the first time in several decades that ospreys had successfully nested in Lyndhurst.
The story continues below.
The Rules Committee has been asked whether the Red-necked Grebe in West Hudson Park can be counted as part of the Meadowlands Big Year.
After much deliberation, we have decided that it is up to you. If you feel comfortable counting a bird that is technically not in the district, that's fine. After all, we certainly didn't mind posting all these wonderful images of said grebe, like this one by Ron Shields.
However, if you saw the bird from Harrison, not Kearny, then it is tough noogies — unless the bird was in Kearny when you were in Harrison. Sorry you asked?
We have plenty of nifty nature events on tap for April, beginning with a DeKorte Park bird walk at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 7. The park should be open until 3:30 p.m. that day.
Our Third-Tuesday walk is in Harrier Meadow. Both events are sponsored by the Meadowlands Commission and the Beregn County Audubon Society (BCAS).
We are also hosting the BCAS' Birding for Beginners series on three Sunday afternoons in the Marshview Pavilion at DeKorte Park.
Full listings follow.
We stopped at Laurel Hill last week to see how the Common Ravens are faring. We arrived at the ballfields below the nest site in time to see a raven chasing a Red-tailed Hawk across the cliffs and out of sight.
As we turned to look at the nesting site, the other raven left the newly rebuilt nest and flew overhead on its way to feed.
Last spring, Peregrine Falcons likely prevented the ravens from nesting. Last fall, Hurricane Sandy washed away the nest altogther.
Peregrines willing, we are hopeful the ravens will nest on
Laurel Hill once again.
A photo comparison of the nest site from last November and last week follows.
Roy Woodford writes:
"What a great day … and great weekend.
"Our new friend seems to be getting used to having cameras pointed at him. He's been surrounded several times and he doesn't seem to mind our presence very much.
"Ron [Shields] and I got some good shots this morning of the Red-necked Grebe fishing.
"He battled with a 6-inch bluegill for a few minutes … losing the fish several times in the process … but, in the end, he did get his meal."
Two more pictures follow. (Fish lovers, avert your eyes.)