Monthly Archives: September 2020

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: The Last Flowers of Summer

Golden Rod and Wild Ageratum

The Hummingbirds still scuffle over the last failing flowers of the trumpets vines. Bumble Bees now feed franticly over the Asters and Ageratums, and the Monarchs still search out the Goldenrods on their long perilous migration south. The last flowers of summer, though fading, are not only critical to the lives of countless wildlife but also allow us to survive and fill our souls with joy and delight and at times present us with a sense of quiet grief as the last blooms begin to dwindle away.

The evening skies look different now. There is a cool, crisp morning pinch in the air. We begin to notice we are crunching on early fallen leaves and the lonely anxiety of the unknown coming season grabs at our hearts.

Trumpet Vine

We have all been through a lot this past season. Our profound sense of loss and fear still holds us all hostages and yet through it all nature has become our solace. Nature is now our new support system, our friend and family when we needed it most. Our counselor and therapist, our personal consultant and spiritual advisor. Some have discovered nature for the first time, others are now rediscovering it and some have known it was there all along but never knew how important it truly was. But all now will depend on it more than ever to get them through the oncoming season.

Already Bald Eagles are bringing sticks to their nests preparing for spring and the next generation. Broad -winged Hawks still fill the skies on their long migration as they have done since time and immemorial, and the Blue Jays cache food to get ready for the winter ahead.

After all, the last flowers of summer are the first flowers of the fall and just as nature welcomes in the change of season we will do the same. And like the backyard Chickadee and the Monarch Butterfly we will endure what is ahead and like the wildflowers of the meadows we will still be there, as much a part of the natural world as the Hawk or the Butterfly. Nature is always there for us just patiently waiting for us to come home to its wonders.

 We should not fret over the fading flowers but rather rejoice in the change and embrace the colors of the fall and the raptors of winter and know that like the seasons the flowers of Spring will return with all its eternal beauty as we will emerge with the endless knowledge and understanding that nature will always be a part of who we are wherever and whenever we are ready to listen

See you in the Meadowlands

Rare Bird Sighting (Wood Sandpiper) at DeKorte Park!

Credit: Milton Collins

Milton Collins spotted and photographed a rare for the East Coast Wood Sandpiper at the eastern end of the Shorebird Pool at DeKorte Park yesterday (Sunday, Sept. 20). Chris Takacs reports:

A Wood Sandpiper, a Eurasian bird, was found yesterday morning by Milton Collins. This is the first NJ state record, pending records committee approval and possibly the 6th was east coast sighting ever. 

It’s a small sandpiper, about solitary sandpiper sized. It’s in the company of both Yellowlegs and dowitchers in the east end of the shorebird pool. Shorebird is being controlled to keep water levels lower. 

Credit: Milton Collins

Reminder: Birthday Walk at DeKorte This Coming Monday, Sept. 21!

Help Bergen County Audubon Society field trip leader Lindsay McNamara celebrate her birthday on Monday, Sept. 21, as she leads a walk of DeKorte Park, the gem of the Meadowlands park system! We’ll keep our eyes out for shorebirds, egrets and raptors. The walk runs from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m.

Info: Don Torino at or 201-230-4983.

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: The Magic of Losen Slote Creek

Flickers flew from the ground like a flushed covey of quail, a flock of Grackles greeted my presence and an Osprey stood alert atop an old White Birch. The sweet smelling white flowers of the summer sweet have all faded now. the Sassafras, Sweet gums and the Oak trees still hold on as fall fast approaches and I was sure the Great Horned Owls watched as I walked purposely along the forest trail.

Ferns still stood tall in tribute to a time long ago. A Hairy Woodpecker suddenly clings to a tree right over your head and a Red-tailed Hawk watches over its empire from its nearby perch. You are in Losen Slote Creek Park in Little Ferry.

Losen Slote (Dutch for Winding Creek) is one of the last stands of hardwood lowland forest in the Meadowlands District and one of the last that is accessible to the general public. A 22-acre hidden gem in an otherwise congested part of Bergen County, where birders can see migrants such as Hooded and Blackburnian Warblers, where the music of the Wood Thrush still echoes through the forest and the Kingfisher’s rattling  call can be heard along the creek’s edge. A critical and highly sensitive lowland forest habitat where the Muskrat, Red Fox and our natural sense of wonder are still allowed to roam free.

At times it is very easy to forget where you as the Losen Slote trails take you to places that could easily be mistaken for the valleys of Sussex and Warren counties and yet as beautiful as our northern forests are Losen Slote Creek Park. Considered by the US Fish & Wildlife Service as critical wildlife habitat, Losen Slote may actually be even more significant to the many unique species of plants and wildlife that still thrive and depend on it for their survival.

Biodiversity takes precedence at Losen Slote, from the unique plant life to vast number of migratory birds that utilize the wooded as well as the meadow habitats. Fourteen native tree species, 12 Native Ferns, and 20+ native Shrubs still thrive there and well over 150 bird species nest or use it as their migratory stopover as they battle to continue on their long treacherous journey.

The park, like many in our area, has not been without its problems. Some like and cherish it and fight to preserve it while some others still wish to exploit and abuse it for their own selfish purposes. Some like to still point the finger at who is responsible for caring for the park. But I will end the controversy right here and now. I am responsible for the care of Losen Slote Park, and oh yes, you are responsible too, as is anyone that cares about having such a special place for both wildlife and people.

Credit: Jim Macaluso

My late younger brother Todd was my partner. We grew up loving every minute we spent in the Meadowlands. He still walks with me at places like Losen Slote Park. It is a wonderful place, a gem in the middle of suburbia. It needs to be protected, cherished and looked after by all of us who care about the future of such special places.

Take a walk in the wilderness of Losen Slote.  The trails, the birds the flowers and the magic are waiting for you.