Thanks to Joe Koscielny for these great photos taken during Tuesday’s Bergen County Audubon Society nature walk at Losen Slote Creek Park and the Mehrhof Pond Wildlife Observaton Area, both in Little Ferry. If you haven’t already yet, be sure to take advantage of the BCAS Bird Blind at the Wildlife Observation Area!
I am often asked by reporters, friends and people I meet on our nature walks, “What is the greatest threat to our environment?”
I can tell they think they know exactly what I will say. At times they even try to answer for me. “Climate change right?” they cry out as they look to me to sadly agree. No, I say. “Ok habitat loss?” or “ It’s pollution right ?” “Plastic? Fracking??
Sill not agreeing with them they finally give up ask ok what then? My answer is the issue that scares me the most and is far worse than all those critical issues combined because, know unless we learn to somehow overcome and conquer it, in the long run nothing much else will matter.
If there is an issue that keeps me awake at night it is the seriousness of how many people are becoming disconnected from the natural world around them.
If the average person does not care about or even see the Robin on the front lawn or even glance at the hawk flying overhead how can we ever to expect to convince them to care about what happens to the future of our environment ?
Why would they even blink an eye about a bulldozer clearing a few acres of trees if they no longer feel that nature is important? Why care about climate change or vote for people that do care about the future if their connection to the natural world has been forgotten or at the very least ignored ?
There is more than enough blame to go around as to the causes for the disconnect. Urban sprawl has less nature for us to find close to home, technology occupies more and more of our free time, our educational system provides little or no time to keep our children interested in nature , and of course there is the big one, FEAR.
Our “fear,” or maybe just a serious lack of understanding of nature, is falsely creating more and more reasons to avoid a walk in the woods and meadows and close our doors and windows and just stay inside. The fears run the gamut from being attacked by a wild pack of coyotes to being hissed at by an angry goose or chased by an aggressive wild turkey as highlighted on the evening news.
From slipping in the mud to getting cold toe , their worries seem to have become extreme and now has limited their nature connection to a wilderness hike from their f ront door to the far off reaches of the driver’s side door of their SUV. Take precautions? Absolutely! But hiding inside is not my idea of living .
Ultimately as a result we continue to lose more and more natural areas. As the trees go to development, the fields to warehouses and the meadows to ratables we continue to lose our linking to nature. Our children have nowhere to walk through a forest or play in a pond, our seniors lose their places to rest and relax, and society losses a place to regain their souls. Study after study reveals evidence on how much healthier both mentally and physically a society is when they get to spend time communing with the natural world around them .
We will need to decide for ourselves if we no longer care to watch a Hummingbird sip nectar from a flower or see a Monarch Butterfly come to rest on a milkweed. Will we accept getting cold hands and feet to watch a Bald Eagle hunt for fish along the river banks or to see your first Snowy Owl perched silently on a meadow? The decision you make will affect all of us and the future of our natural world .
But there is hope and the solution is up to us all. Get outside and take a friend, a child, loved one, neighbor, whoever you can find on a walk in woods and meadows that we still have here in the Garden State. Conservation organizations cannot do it alone. We all must convey our respect and love of nature to all who will listen so that we all learn to care to be sure there will still be places that future generations of people and wildlife can survive and thrive.
Since humans first walked in a forest, felt the tall grasses brush their sides and looked for the answers to questions of the spirit in the wilderness we have known that we need to be in nature. We are part of it, it is part of us.
Wallace Stegner , writer and conservationist, once said, “Wildness can be a way of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.” Somehow, despite our long work days, family obligations and the stresses of life we all need to stay connected to nature in some way.
We need to realize that nature is real, it is happening just outside the door. So open it, go out and reconnect ! We are all depending on you .
The BCAS and NJSEA have a number of special events coming up throughout the year to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of our partnership.
In addition to our annual Butterfly Day, Moth Night and Birding Festival, we’re kicking off our new Native Plant Day and have some great guest speakers lined up for other programs. And don’t forget our guided walks throughout the Meadowlands on the first Sunday and Third Tuesday of each month.
We’ll have more details as the events get closer, but for now, keep these dates free on your calendar!! All events take place at DeKorte Park and the Meadowlands Environment Center in Lyndhurst.
Sunday, Feb. 3: Super Bird Sunday Nature Walk – Enjoy some time in nature before the big game! Prizes will be awarded to the first people to spot birds that are also National Football League team names: Eagles, Falcons, Cardinals, Ravens, Seahawk (Osprey), Wood(packer) and “Giant” Great Blue Heron.
Sunday, March 3: Climate Change Talk With Dr. Brooke Bateman – Dr. Bateman is the National Audubon Society Senior Scientist of Climate. Her work focuses on helping birds survive climate change. Dr. Bateman is also leading Climate Watch, a survey conducted by community scientists across the country who will test the predictions in Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report against real-life sightings.
Sunday, March 31: Birding for Beginners – A great opportunity for all ages who are interested in bird watching to learn from the best. The event consists of a program on birding tips and optics followed by a guided walk of DeKorte Park.
Sunday, June 30: Meadowlands Native Plant Day – An exploration of native plants in DeKorte Park and the Meadowlands region featuring talks and walks led by plant experts. Rain date Sunday, July 7. Stay tuned for more information!
Sunday, July 7: Meadowlands Talk With Jim Wright – A decade ago former New Jersey Meadowlands Commission staffer Jim Wright and BCAS President Don Torino joined forces to start twice-monthly nature walks to celebrate the region’s environmental comeback. That became the foundation upon which the partnership between Bergen Audubon and the Commission (now the NJSEA) is based. Wright led the agency’s partnership efforts until his pseudo-retirement in 2015, though you can be sure to see him participating in walks and special events. He is the author of several books including “The Nature of the Meadowlands.” Wright also pens “The Bird Watcher” column, which is published in The Record newspaper and on northjersey.com every other Thursday.
Tuesday, July 23: Meadowlands Moth Night –Our annual Moth Night is part of National Moth Week, which promotes a better understanding of the importance of these amazing, lesser-known cousins of butterflies. Hear a talk by a moth expert and then venture out into DeKorte Park where we’ll be attracting moths using industrial lights and sugar bait.
Sunday, July 28: 10th Annual Butterfly Day – Our most highly-anticipated event of the year! Butterfly Day has evolved from a walk that drew 70 people a decade ago into a family-friendly event that now attracts upward of 1,000 people to DeKorte Park each summer. The day includes walks, talks, onsite experts to help identify the various butterflies and kids activities including a Scavenger Hunt, Face Painting, Butterfly costume contest (12 and under) and crafts. Rain date Sunday, Aug. 4.
Saturday, Sept. 14: Meadowlands Birding Festival – The day will include bird walks, talks, raptor visits, kids activities and more celebrating the Meadowlands amazing bird population. This year’s keynote speaker is Sharon Stiteler aka The Bird Chick – http://www.birdchick.com/ (Rain or shine)
Join the Bergen County Audubon Society this coming Tuesday (Jan. 15) for a guided walk of Losen Slote Creek Park and the Mehrhof Pond Wildlife Observation Area. Both sites are located near one another in Little Ferry and provide great opportunities for bird watching. They’ll be looking for waterfowl, Eagles and wintering birds.
The walk runs from 10 am to noon. For more information contact Don Torino at email@example.com or 201-230-4983.
Check out Jim Wright’s column in The Record today all about the celebration of the return of the Bald Eagle being held on Sunday, Jan. 20, at New Bridge Landing in River Edge. The free event, “Historic New Bridge Landing; Where Eagles Fly,” runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features speakers including Wright and Bergen County Audubon Society President Don Torino. Don’t miss this great event on the amazing success story of the return of Bald Eagles!
Join the Bergen County Audubon Society next Tuesday (Jan. 15) for a guided walk of Losen Slote Creek Park and the Mehrhof Pond Wildlife Observation Area. Both sites are located near one another in Little Ferry and provide great opportunities for bird watching. They’ll be looking for waterfowl, Eagles and wintering birds.
The walk runs from 10 am to noon. For more information contact Don Torino at firstname.lastname@example.org or 201-230-4983.
The NJSEA will host a viewing of the upcoming Total Lunar Eclipse at its William D. McDowell Observatory in DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst from 10:15 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, to 1 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21. This is the first Total Lunar Eclipse visible from North America since 2015. The eclipse begins at 10:34 p.m. The moon will be in full eclipse from 11:41 p.m. to 12:43 a.m.
The Observatory holds 20 people at one time. The eclipse can also be viewed from the ground with binoculars and portable telescopes. Visitors are encouraged to bring lounge chairs and their own viewing instruments while they wait to enter the Observatory.
In addition, astronomers and volunteers will talk about eclipses and answer questions throughout the evening in the Science Center, which is adjacent to the Observatory.
Note: No food or drinks will be available. Please dress appropriately for the weather. The Observatory is not heated.
In case of inclement weather, the event will be cancelled. Check www.meadowblog.net for updates, or call 201-615-8570.
About the Total Lunar Eclipse:
A Total Lunar Eclipse occurs when the Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon. The moon usually appears a reddish color due to refraction of light in the Earth’s atmosphere and is sometimes called a Blood Moon. Totality during a lunar eclipse normally lasts about an hour, whereas a total solar eclipse lasts only a few minutes. Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to view without any eye protection or special precautions, as they are dimmer than the full moon.
Join the Bergen County Audubon Society on a guided walk through Harrier Meadow in North Arlington this Sunday (Jan. 6) from 10 am to noon. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for ducks, wintering birds and raptors. Harrier Meadow is located off Disposal Road near DeKorte Park.
You don’t want to miss this walk: Harrier Meadow, a stunning natural area, is usually closed to the public. For more information, contact Don Torino at email@example.com or call 201-230-4983.
Could George the American White Pelican be back in the Meadowlands? The rare visitor for these parts has been seen as recently as this morning in the area.
Chris Takacs sent the following update:
Return of George?
December 7 an American White Pelican was being chased by a Bald Eagle at Mill Creek Marsh and photographed by Sandy Sorkin. The bird could not be refound. On December 10 a White Pelican was spotted in southern Maine in Wells, for a day. December 11 a White Pelican was spotted in Rye, NH. By December 14 the pelican was in Little Harbor, NH east of Portsmouth for about 2 weeks. It made a Christmas Eve appearance in Falmouth, ME, but returned to the Little Harbor area (Odiorne Point SP) and last spotted New Year’s Eve.
January 3, Ed Borowik reports American White Pelican at Kearny Marsh East from radio station driveway Rt. 7. I made a trip this morning and spotted the Pelican far out in the impoundment, but still here in our Meadowlands. This is the only American White Pelican being seen in northeast United States currently. Is it George and did he take a trip to NH/ME? I’d like to believe in George.
Photo was from the morning and map shows his spot