The Meadowlands Commission is honoring Black History Month with a weekly post on this blog. Today the focus is a Tuskegee Airman from Rutherford.
In future weeks we'll look at the Underground Railroad in Jersey City, a slave cemetery in Little Ferry, and a famous black actress and civil rights activist who worked in Kearny.
Calvin J. Spann, who grew up in Rutherford, served with the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. From 1943 to 1946, 1st Lt. Spann served in the US Army Air Force, 332nd Fighter Group, 100th Squadron, as part of the famed Tuskegee Airmen — the first-ever group of black Army pilots. Spann was among an elite group of Tuskegee Airmen who escorted B-17 bombers and reconnaissance planes over Nazi Germany during World War. Spann flew 26 combat missions.
In a phone interview yesterday from his home in Texas, Spann said: "My growing up in Rutherford inspired me to be a Tuskegee Airman. Planes from Teterboro Airport took off right over my house.
"I was able to do everything any young man in high school did, and when I got into the Air Corps and they said they didn't think I could learn to fly, I thought that was preposterous. I'd been doing everything everyone else was doing all my life, and it really stuck with me. That was my experience growing up in Rutherford."
Click here for more with Tuskegee Airman Calvin Spann.
The Meadowlands Commission's team of three birded on Sunday from 6 a.m. until after 5 p.m. at commission locales and came up with 62 species, including a Bald Eagle, a Rough-Legged Hawk, three species of owls, Orange-crowned Warblers and Horned Larks.
More later this week.
Click the button at right for more information on the count nationwide.
If you've ever walked to the beginning of the Saw Mill Creek Trail in North Arlington or gone birding along Disposal Road, you're probably familiar with the AMVETS Memorial Carillon.
Friday, Oct. 17, is the carillon's first anniversary, and the local AMVETS group is having a commemoration at the site at 11 a.m., followed by coffee at the Meadowlands Environment Center just down the road in Lyndhurst. The public is invited.
The carillon chimes on the quarter hour, with a lengthier anthem on the hour. Then first time you walk by when it chimes, it catches you by surprise but the pealing appealing once you get accustomed to it.
There are several AMVETS carillons nationwide, including one at Arlington Cemetery in Arlington, Va. For more information on the AMVETS Carillon program, click here.
The rough stretch of road connecting Schuyler Avenue in North Arlington and DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst is officially called Disposal Road or AMVETS Way, but these days it's Raptor Road. Every trip we've made along the road in the past week, we've seen a redtail or kestrel or marsh hawk. The female marsh hawk was seen hunting along the Kingsland Landfill last Thursday.
One of the Meadowlands Commission’s missions is to revitalize and diversify the region’s wetlands.
To replace the invasive species phragmites, a tall inhospitable reed that tends to dominate a marsh, NJMC has been planting all sorts of native marsh grasses in marshes throughout the 14-town district.
To measure the success of those efforts, the NJMC’s Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute has been using some innovative methods, including the use of helium-balloon photography (see video above).
On Thursday, MERI is holding a workshop for wetlands professionals on the use of such remote techniques to monitor marsh vegetation.
NJMC naturalists are conducting a study to see what kinds of habitats should be created on the Meadowlands’ landfills to attract a greater diversity of migrating birds and to provide nesting habitat for threatened or endangered grasslands species, such as Savannah Sparrows and Grasshopper Sparrows.
As part of the study, Meadowlands Commission naturalists have been mist-netting birds on the Erie Landfill in North Arlington, banding them and recording their vital statistics, and then releasing them.
We will post the bird data for the week here on Friday afternoons through early November whenever possible.
Click "Continue reading…" immediately below for this week’s tally.
We thought this guy was one attractive pigeon when we photographed him with a telephoto lens late yesterday afternoon. When we looked at the photo closely (see below), we realized he was a real thoroughbred — a racing pigeon or a show pigeon. He was seen atop the pavilion at the Meadowlands Environment Center. If you can tell us more, please do!
The Meadowlands Festival of Birding had a great turnout today, including this female Blue Grosbeak who showed up for the bird-banding demonstration in Harrier Meadow. Also making several appearances: Peregrine Falcons, Ospreys, Green herons, Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned and Great Blue Herons, umpteen egrets, Stilt Sandpipers, yellowlegs and so on. Oh, and an estimated 240 birders. Some 50 birders went on the Harrier Meadow morning bird walk, and more than three dozen attended the early morning bird-banding, which provided up-close looks at a Red-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, Magnolia Warbler and Redstart. A total of 36 birds were banded and released.
Starting next Monday (Sept.8), the William D. McDowell Observatory in DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst,is opening it state-of-the art telescope to the public every Monday and Wednesday evening, weather permitting. The viewings are free. The observatory will be open for two hours each night, with 8 and 9 p.m. viewing sessions.
The observatory houses a research-grade, optical telescope with a 20-inch mirror within a six-meter retractable dome.