Monthly Archives: September 2015

Halloween at the Meadowlands!

halloweenJoin us on Oct. 29 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm for Halloween at the Meadowlands in DeKorte Park. Kids love this annual event, which includes hayrides, a Creepy Creatures of Halloween Spooky Walk, the Witch’s Den, and games, crafts, and other activities throughout the evening. Walks are recommended for children 5-12 and last approximately 30-40 minutes.

Registration is required and online only. Sign-up for your Spooky Walk time slot and come early to enjoy all the fun. Space is limited so register now here!

Most importantly, don’t forget to dress up!


Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Life Birds

original1.Rough-legged HawkBirders are like most people; our fondest memories revolve around family, friends, and events that have brought us joy and pleasure throughout life’s delightful and sometimes difficult journey. But birders are also blessed with wonderful reminiscences and recollections of their very own special birds, or what is known as “Life birds.”

What is a life bird? Put simply, it is a species that a birder has seen and identified in the wild for the very first time in their life. It can be any bird species that the birder sees for the first time. Each person’s life bird list is an individual creation based on where they live or travel and what birds may be located in their home range.

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Lots of Action on the Saw Mill Creek Mudflats

Roy Woodford reports: Ron Shields and I took a trip out in our kayaks from Laurel Hill into the Saw Mill Creek Mudflats on Tuesday. There’s lots of activity out there (aside from the Ring-billed and Herring Gulls).  We found scores of small Diamondback Terrapins, lots of Great and Snowy Egrets, a few juvenile Yellow-crown Night Herons, a few Great Blue Herons … and a few not often seen around these parts. You just never know what you’ll find around here. (Above are Roy’s photos of a Marbled Godwit and Black-bellied Plover.

Magnificent Marsh Wrens

Chris Takacs spent some time with Marsh Wrens on the Marsh Discovery Trail in DeKorte Park yesterday. Enjoy these pics to start your day!

Harrier Meadow Walk Recap

Harrier Meadow 9.15.15 WalkThanks to the more than 40 nature enthusiasts who joined us on this morning’s nature walk at Harrier Meadow in North Arlington. We were especially pleased to see many children on today’s walk. Species seen include Osprey, Lesser Yellowlegs, Semi-palmated Sandpipers, Ruddy Ducks and Palm Warbler. The kids were also thrilled – and some grossed out – by Barn Owl pellets found on the ground.

A Virginia Rail in Kearny

Ron Shields sent along some wonderful photos of the usually secretive Virginia Rail he photographed recently in the Kearny Marsh. Ron writes that he was especially happy to get these shots given that the Virginia Rail is tougher for him to locate and photograph than other marsh inhabitants like the sora or least bittern. Enjoy!

Reminder: Harrier Meadow Walk Tomorrow at 10 am!


Northern harrier marsh hawk

Northern harrier marsh hawk

Join us from 10 am to noon tomorrow for a guided nature walk of Harrier Meadow in North Arlington. The 70-acre natural area is normally closed to the public, so take advantage of this special opportunity! We’ll look for herons, egrets, shorebirds, ospreys and other raptors. (Pictured: A Northern Harrier flying over Harrier Meadow).

Harrier Meadow is located on Disposal Road off Schuyler Avenue in North Arlington. Park at the North Arlington Firehouse at the top of the hill and walk across the road to the entrance to Harrier Meadow. Please be careful as construction work is going on along the road and trucks will be traveling in the area.

For more information on Harrier Meadow, read Don Torino’s recent blog post here.

Never Forget

Today marks the 14th year since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our country. Please take time today to take a moment of silence to remember the victims of that horrific day. We also invite you to visit the WTC Memorial Cove at DeKorte Park. The memorial is located adjacent to the NJSEA administrative building, just before entering the Lyndhurst Nature Reserve trail. DeKorte will be open tonight only until 9 pm so that you may visit the memorial to pay your respects if you do not have time during the day.

Dickcissel Sighting

Dickcissel Kingsland

Dicksissel Erie





Chris Takacs reports spotting a Dickcissel yesterday flying over the Harrier Meadow Natural Area in North Arlington. While yesterday’s sighting was most likely a migrant bird heading south, the small, American seed-eating species did attempt to nest on the Kingsland Landfill  in 2013 (see photo on left above). A second picture shows a Dickcissel on the Erie Landfill in 2014. They can be a really tough bird to see in our area. The Dickcissel is a grassland bird that doesn’t nest near us. Usually there are one or two sightings a year around the area, with Liberty State Park and Overpeck Park being likely viewing spots.

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Harrier Meadow: Nature Restored

Harrier Meadow Walkers

northern harrier

Among Many Native American cultures the hawk is a visionary and bringer of life’s messages that teaches us to become more aware and look at the bigger picture of the world around us. In the Meadowlands, there is a place that pays tribute to the spirit of the hawk called Harrier Meadow, an urban wilderness which acknowledges an almost mystical raptor, the Northern Harrier. These incredible hunters of the sky can often be seen soaring above the marshland grasses in the very place that bears its name.

Harrier Meadow, located in the town of North Arlington, may be the best kept secret of the New Jersey Meadowlands. It is passed everyday by people who live and work close by but are not aware of its existence. When they do finally enter Harrier Meadow they find themselves transformed by this very different place than the one that endures outside. Gone are the trucks, warehouses and busy roads that surround Harrier Meadow.

Once inside, you enter a world of tidal mudflats that are critical areas for migrating shorebirds, upland areas for songbirds, and ponds for waterfowl and Egrets. Stands of Red Cedars line the trail, Groundsel shrubs show off their cloud-like blossoms and the native grasses wave in the wind telling birds like the Savannah Sparrows that they have arrived at Harrier Meadow.

But it wasn’t always like this. Like many places in the Meadowlands of the past, Harrier Meadow was exploited and abused. The natural area was once a dumping ground for construction debris from Route 280. In 1996, the then New Jersey Meadowlands Commission acquired the property and by 1998 had restored the one-time landfill to the important wildlife sanctuary it is today.

Harrier Meadow’s diverse habitats within the 77-acre site have attracted some rare bird species over the years. Curlew Sandpiper, Black-Necked Stilt, White Ibis, Grasshopper Sparrows, Orange-Crowned Warbler, Connecticut Warbler and Blue Grosbeaks are among the many rare birds that have paid visits to this wonderful wildlife haven. Improvements and restoration work continues at Harrier Meadow with the introduction of more native plants

If the Native Americans are right, and the hawk is the visionary, than the Northern Harrier must have brought that insight to the people that helped create such an extraordinary place, a sanctuary for both the wildlife that thrives there and the people that are lucky enough to visit Harrier Meadow.

Access to Harrier Meadow is limited and the natural area is not open usually to the general public. But you can join the Bergen Audubon Society for a free scheduled free walk in Harrier Meadow this coming Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 10 am.

Harrier Meadow is located on Disposal Road off Schuyler Avenue in North Arlington. Park at the North Arlington Firehouse at the top of the hill and walk across the road to the entrance to Harrier Meadow. Please be careful as construction work is going on along the road and trucks will be traveling in the area.