Franklin Clove Video by Jim Longo

For folks who love local history in general and High Mountain in particular, the sudden passing of Franklin Lakes and Wyckoff historian Jim Longo last month came as a shock and great loss.

Jim used to lead an annual walk to the Franklin Clove, and Jim graciously took me to the Franklin Clove a couple of times when I was researching High Mountain.

On one of our walks, Jim gave me a copy of the video he and his daughter Lauren did about Franklin Clove several years ago. With the Longo family's permission, I have posted it on YouTube so more people can learn about the Clove -- and see and hear Jim in action. The video is approx. 22 minutes.

A terrific guy in all ways. (A post I wrote about Jim last month is here.)

I hope to lead a walk to the Clove in Jim's memory in the fall.


Lake Tappan Sunset

DSCN9096-001Went on a Moon Walk with Bergen SWAN the other night at Lake Tappan (special permit required), and caught the last vestiges of a setting sun before we walked along the edge of the reservoir.

Birding wasn't great (it was dusk and night-time after all), but I may have had a first --  possibly heard a Barn Owl calling.

I saw quite a lot of Barn Owls when I worked in the Meadowlands, but I'd never heard one.

Before the walk, SWAN intern John Adriance played the call for the participants, and what we hard sure sounded like it.

You can hear a Barn Owl call and other common owl calls here.


Celery Farm Pix by Sandee Faust

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Sandee Faust, a friend of this blog, passed along some photos of  classic Celery Farm summer sights -- a Green Frog (I think), a Spicebush Swallowtail (taken on Saturday's Butterfly Walk), and a Milkweed Bug (above).

As with the Monarchs that use the Common Milkweed as a host plant, the Milkweed Bugs taste terrible to any bird that tries to eat them.
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Bluebird Box Mystery Answered

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On Monday, I asked why the above bluebird nesting box was unusual.

Tough question, and as with almost any question involving bluebirds around here, the answer also involves Celery Farm Marsh Warden Emeritus Stiles Thomas.

The bluebird box was built in 1950s from plans drawn up by Stiles, and it even had Stiles' "brand" on the side of it.

Inside was an instruction sheet explaining where and how to place the nesting box, along with this warning:

"DO NOT UNDER [ANY] CIRCUMSTANCES ALLOW ENGLISH SPARROWS TO NEST IN THE BLUEBIRD HOUSE.

"You'll have to use ingenuity to defeat them. If removing their nests doesn't work, plug up the entrance hole for a few days. Another successful method is to place house with bottom just three feet from the ground. English sparrows don't normally nest this close to the ground. Bluebirds do."

NOTE: Correct me if I am wrong, but I think Stiles was referring to the bottom of the bluebird box, and not any other kind of bottom.

Congrats to Barbara Dilger for coming up with a mostly correct answer. 

(The box was on the ground, by he way, because it has never been used. There's a concern that some of the old boards made from manmade materials won't stand up well to the weather.)

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A Walk at Mill Creek Marsh

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Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus is one of my favorite places to visit, the weather yesterday was not as oppressively muggy as it has been, and Bergen County Audubon was sponsoring a walk there.  Who could  pass that up?

It was a great time to catch up on old friends and the various summer birds that MCM attracts -- including Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and a cameo appearance by a Peregrine Falcon.

Oh, and the Marsh Wrens were sure calling loud and clear, everywhere we went.
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