Thank You BCAS!!!

The NJSEA extends a HUGE thank you to the Bergen County Audubon Society for its donation of $8,000 to fund the Authority’s new Motus Wildlife Tracking System, a tremendous asset to the agency’s efforts to track migratory birds in the Meadowlands. Pictured is NJSEA Assistant Director of Natural Resources Management Terry Doss accepting the BCAS check from Bergen Audubon President Don Torino.

Motus is an international collaborative research network that uses coordinated automated radio telemetry to facilitate research and education on the ecology and conservation of migratory animals. Thanks again to BCAS for funding this very important project!

Here’s more about Motus from Terry Doss:

We all know that the Meadowlands is a unique place to find birds, and that these birds serve as a sort of compass to let us know how we’re doing and what the current health status of our region is. We’ve recently added a new tool to help us increase our understanding and knowledge.

This system is called a Motus Wildlife Tracking System.

In the past, to understand how migratory birds use the Meadowlands, we’ve been banding birds, which is a tedious effort. You have to band thousands of birds to successfully recapture a few individuals and ultimately gather data to learn about each individual’s journey or destination.

But by using Motus, we can look at migration routes in real-time using old fashioned radio telemetry.

We use this system by first fitting birds with small geolocators. Transmissions from the geolocators are then picked up by a series of towers placed in opportune areas.

Motus, which is the latin word for movement, is a new way to use older technology to track migrating birds. The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is an international research network that uses coordinated automated radio telemetry to facilitate research and education on the ecology and conservation of migratory animals. It was developed by Birds Canada in partnership with collaborating researchers and organizations.

These relatively small towers use radio signals and receivers to track birds. The small nanotags transmit a signal a few times every minute that can be picked up by a Motus tower. Staging these towers along migration routes creates a virtual net to capture the animals’ information. These towers connect to the internet and download tag ID numbers as they are detected in real-time, giving the researchers who deployed these tags the whereabouts of the bird as the individual migrates. The towers are the perfect blend of old and new technologies to make understanding the mysteries of migration more affordable, comprehensive, and collaborative with a wide range of hosts and partners deploying tags and hosting towers. The result is a better understanding of the full life cycles of imperiled migratory species in a cooperative scientific approach.

There have been many towers placed throughout Canada and the Americas, but more are needed to fully understand the migratory routes of birds. And despite the importance of the Atlantic Flyway in our area, there are few MOTUS towers within our region.

But now we will be placing a Motus Tower in the Meadowlands.

Thanks to the generous funding by Bergen County Audubon Society, we’ll be siting a MOTUS tower here in the District. BCAS provided us with the funding last week, and we are now working quickly with Cailin O’Connor Fitzpatrick from Kean University and Willistown Conservation Trust to get the tower up and running to capture data from this spring’s migration.

Similar to how we band birds, we’ll be working with Ms. Fitzpatrick from Kean University to place nanotags on small songbirds from the Meadowlands. These birds can then be tracked using the MOTUS towers set up around the world. And our new tower will provide information to all the scientists from around the world tracking their birds.

The new BCAS Motus Tower will be managed and maintained by NJSEA staff, so it will be a truly collaborative project that will inform not only us but scientists from around the world. We’ll learn a lot about the incredible journeys birds traveling through the Meadowlands undertake, and we look forward to telling you more about this project as it progresses.

So a big thank you to Don Torino and BCAS and his army of volunteers.

Reminder: BCAS Walk This Sunday, March 28 at Mill Creek Marsh

Killdeer

The BCAS returns to Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus this coming Sunday, March 28, for a guided nature walk at this great place for birding. The walk runs from 10 a.m. to noon. Keep your eyes peeled for early spring migrants, ducks and raptors.

There will be enough walk leaders to ensure adherence to outdoor gathering protocols. Social distancing (6 feet apart) and masks are required.

Contact: Don Torino at greatauk4@gmail.com or 201-230-4983.  

BCAS Walk Sunday, March 28 at Mill Creek Marsh

Killdeer

The BCAS returns to Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus this coming Sunday, March 28, for a guided nature walk at this great place for birding. The walk runs from 10 a.m. to noon. Keep your eyes peeled for early spring migrants, ducks and raptors.

There will be enough walk leaders to ensure adherence to outdoor gathering protocols. Social distancing (6 feet apart) and masks are required.

Contact: Don Torino at greatauk4@gmail.com or 201-230-4983.  

Mill Creek Point Magic

Check out these photos of Mill Creek Point Park and the Secaucus Greenway taken recently by Mickey Raine during the magic hour, the period right before sunset that provides for some breathtaking photos. The last shot is looking towards the Hudson Yards complex in Manhattan. Thanks Mickey!

Woodcock Walk at Mill Creek Point Part Rescheduled to This Saturday, March 20

Due to the forecasted implement weather, the Bergen County Audubon Society’s special woodcock walk at Mill Creek Point Park in Secaucus has been postponed from tonight to this Saturday, March 20. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive Timberdoodle! This walk runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. There will be enough walk leaders to ensure adherence to outdoor gathering protocols. Social distancing (6 feet apart) and masks are required.

Contact: Don Torino at greatauk4@gmail.com or 201-230-4983.  

Credit: Jim Macaluso

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Birding and Time

Lately some of my days out birding feels more like an old vaudeville routine than a day in the field. A good friend of mine has a problem hearing and I have a big problem seeing but together, as we jokingly like to put it, we equal one complete birder. He depends on me to tell him what I heard and I need him to tell me what I missed. Its part of nature’s many intricate symbiotic relationships I guess. But there is no time to feel sorry for ourselves; nature doesn’t not allow for that. After all, there is nothing more perfect than friends helping each other especially when it comes to birding.

As much as birding is about the birds themselves it is also about our life’s unique journey and as it all comes together to connect and intertwine with the natural world around us. Of course being part of the natural world means that just like everything else, from the trees to the rivers, time passes by. Some may look on that law of nature as being sad or even final but if it was not for those past years and times I would not have ever had the pleasure of seeing the many incredible birds that I have enjoyed so much, or for that matter having the joy and honor of birding with some of the most amazing people I have ever met.

Back when I was the younger guy, I had the privilege to learn about nature from some great folks, all much older and wiser but also along with that they had the knowledge, passion and forethought of any zealous evangelist willing to preach to all who those who cared to listen and learn about our birds and the natural world around us.

They were a little slower up the hill, fumbled for their glasses when looking at the field guide and didn’t always pick up on your many bird questions right away. But they had what seemed like the knowledge of the entire natural world at their fingertips. But as things have always been in nature and always will, nothing stays the same and nothing is forever, and with the inevitability of nature’s perfection many of those special people are no longer here with me.

I can remember feeling everything from sadness to anger when some of my friends as they got older would hang up their binoculars for good, many times with no other choice but for some others out of frustration from not being able to bird with the same precision as they once had. Maybe it was selfish on my part but I was mad that they would deny me more time to spend afield with them. But I also knew many others were being denied their passion and knowledge and even though I thought they had a lot more to contribute they felt it was time to call it a day for good.

Of course now I am that older guy and understand all too well the frustrations my friends had many years ago. And now of course those same maladies have somehow been transferred to me. Now my old legs will no longer take me to the top of mountains, my eyes will deny me the warbler in the tree tops and my ears may lessen the song of a Wood thrush. But hanging up the binoculars will not be an option, at least for me. In fact I would not have it no other way than to be where I am right now.

Age may be catching up to me as it is to many birders but to be frustrated or give up would mean that I am ignoring where I have been, the way nature has always worked and that the birds that I have come to love over those many years are now meaningless and the great people I love birding with not important, something I could never consider or surrender to.

When we accept that we are part of nature then we can better understand where we are in life is where we are meant to be and that it should be joyfully embraced and shared to understand how magnificent life is and that each phase of it is no less special than the other, young or old.

Although there are those days when I wish I had better legs that would take me farther and my eyes see a little better I would never wish that I was any younger than I am now. With my age comes the knowledge and love of all the places I have been, the people I came to love and the birds I will never forget just as nature as intended it all to be.

Get outside, never stop wandering the meadows and woods, and share your years of knowledge and love for nature with everyone you can. For that in the end is what our long journey has been all about.