Jim Wright, who keeps this blog for the N.J. Meadowlands Commission, also writes a twice-monthly nature column for the South Bergenite. Here’s his latest.
This time of year is an ideal time to look ahead — with an eye to the past.
In January of last year, the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC), literally faced a rebuilding year. As 2013 began, the Meadowlands District’s parks and natural areas were still in tough shape from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.
Over the course of several months, with a big assist from volunteers, the commission repaired and reopened its parks and most of its trails.
A badly battered Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus reopened in mid-February. DeKorte Park reopened in the spring, and its Teal Pond loop trail and the mile-long Transco Trail reopened in June. The World Trade Center Memorial Cove was completely rebuilt by mid-July — and rededicated on Sept. 11, 2013.
Once the parks and natural areas reopened, it seemed as though hikers and walkers and bird-watchers viewed these places with a new sense of appreciation. Folks no longer took them for granted — having sorely missed their natural beauty when they were under repair.
And once people took to the trails and visited the natural areas once more, they were again amazed by what they saw — from something as familiar as a spectacular sunrise or sunset to many surprising sights.
To give you an idea of what you might see in the Meadowlands in 2014, here are some highlights from the past 12 months:
* In February, several participants on a guided walk stopped by the Kearny Marsh in time to see a breathtakingly beautiful American White Pelican.
* In March, I photographed an amazing Harbor Seal sunning itself on the dock at River Barge Park in Carlstadt.
* In April, we had a golden plover in North Arlington’s Harrier Meadow; in May, a photogenic Killdeer mom and her babies along Disposal Road (photo by Ron Shields is above).
* In June, birder Chris Takacs photographed a coyote from the Saw Mill Creek Trail in DeKorte Park.
* In July, we had an influx of high-profile black-crowned night herons in DeKorte Park.
And so it went throughout the rest of the year, culminating with rough-legged hawks and snowy owls at the end of last month. The rare raptors from the north — in addition to local marsh hawks, kestrels and red-tailed hawks — had photographers lined up along Disposal Road day after day. They even got great photos of a bald eagle or two.
What wildlife awaits in 2014? Join us on one of our many free guided walks in the upcoming year and find out for yourself!
Our next walk is at Laurel Hill County Park in Secaucus on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Check meadowblog.net for details.