Some Sad Raptor News

Got an email from a resident on Grey Avenue in Allendale on Sunday morning to report a dead hawk in the middle of her backyard.

I retrieved the young, unbanded hawk and showed it to Stiles Thomas and Bergen County Audubon president Don Torino. We believed it was a young Red-shoulder but weren't 100 percent sure. (Or in denial. Two of the Red-shoulders' previous nest sites are nearby.)

Deputy warden Gaby Schmitt took the bird to The Raptor Trust for an autopsy/necropsy in hopes of finding out the cause of death.

We have since learned that the I.D. was confirmed.

A necropsy should be performed this weekend. 

Will post the results after they have been confirmed.

Stiles does not think it was one of our local Red-shoulders because we do not think they nested successfully last spring  Any thoughts?




Crowphy Update -- Not Good!

For the legions of birders who thought that this would be the winter when the Fyke Nature Association finally wrested the highly vaunted Crowphy trophy from Bergen Audubon, I have some troubling news.

This year, on the Christmas Bird Count, Fyke tallied 82 species. A 12-bird handicap meant that the BCAS needed to record 95 birds to retain the blackbird.

Lo and behold, the BCAS announced at its meeting on Wednesdsay night they indeed had seen 95 species -- thus retaining the trophy. This means Fyke's handicap will be 13 birds next winter. Some year we will win.

Above, BCAS president Don Torino accepts the Crowphy from an arguably embittered Fyke President Mike Limatola.



Thanks to All Who Attended My Talk

A big thank you to everyonw who braved the cold (and occasional ice) to hear my talk about my "Bird Watcher" column for the Bergen County Audubon Society..

Could not have asked for a better audience.

If you would like me to talk about "The Bird Watcher" for your group, email at



A Couple of Celery Farm Shout-outs

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If you've parked in the Celery Farm parking lot recently, you probably noticed that it's nice and smooth, with no big bump as you go over the sidewalk. 

A big thanks to the Allendale D.P.W. for the new millings.

Also want to thank Celery Farm regular Bill Kempey for picking up litter on his daily rounds. Much appreciated.

The Winner of The John Fell Trophy Is...

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As far as I know, the John Fell Memorial Fantasy Football League just might be the most prestigious fantasy football league on the Eastern Seaboard. Or not.

It is named for Founding Father John Fell, whose estate included the Fell House and the Celery Farm, then called Fell's Meadow.

The winner this year was some guy from Allendale.

His team's name was Eggs Benedict Arnold. I'd like to think that John Fell would have found that amusing.

I could be wrong, but it appears that the trophy is several feet high, which bespeaks it prestige.


Last Sunday's Eagle Fest

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Better late than never, here are a selection of photos from Sunday's Eagle Fest. The Bergen County Historical Society and the Bergen County Audubon Society did a great job with terrific free event.

Joe Koscielny took the great raptor shots. I took the others.

(BTW, the fiddler, Ken Miller, is also a Revolutionary War re-enactor who plays John Fell every spring at the Fell House.)


My Next Talk: Wednesday, Jan. 17, BCAS

My next talk is all about my "Bird Watcher" column in The Record.

I've been writing (and often photographing) the column since May 2009, and have seen some cool birds, met some great people,  and visited some amazing places in those eight-plus years, though not necessarily in that order.

I'll run through the highlights and low lights of the column over the years, all in a mirth-filled 32-minute, 46-second talk. [Note to self: Double-check what "mirth" is exactly.] 

A brief question-and-answer session may follow the event, or not.

What my biggest factual error? What was my most popular column? What generated the most reader feedback? What is with all these questions?

Find out this Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 8 p.m. at the Teaneck Creek Conservancy, 20 Puffin Way, Teaneck.

(BCAS Business Meeting at 7:30 pm. Program begins at 8 pm. All programs are free and open to the public.)

Monday Morning Mystery: 011518

Temp muskrat
Until the recent thaw, I have been out on the ice on Lake Appert regularly, often on cross-country skis, looking for Meaty McMeat Goose (the abandoned Chinese Goose) and just checking on stuff.

I fear Meaty is no more. I have also noted a total lack of muskrat huts this winter.

In years past, I have counted as many as four, and three winters ago Marsh Warden Mike Limatola photographed a huge muskrat hut here.

I notice that I posted a similar mystery seven years. Maybe these things are cyclical, or not.

I came across an explanation, with a link in this post.

That's a pretty good guess as to where the muskrats went.  Julie McCall took this Celery Farm muskrat shot six winters ago. (Thanks, Julie!)