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June 2007

Goldfinch in full bloom


     Today's dispatch is regrettably short, but tomorrow I will write about some nifty bird-baby sightings.

    The flowers aren't the only ones blooming of late. In the lower lefthand corner of the image is a male goldfinch.

    Not sure about that yellow flower just to the right, but the orange flowers are butterflyweed.  Some weed!

Invasive plants



    I wrote a big story for The Record yesterday on invasive species.

   I decided to do it after garlic mustard really starring appearing on my radar screen.

   There was some discussion of how to pull it up in the Celery Farm, and I noticed on a trip to Hawk Mountain that volunteers on boardwalks there were pulling the weed and putting it into black plastic bags.

    I called a few other natural areas, and the directors and rangers all had their lists of nasty invasives. Garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed seemed to rank high on the list.

    When I walk through the Celery Farm these days, I see all sorts of plants competing -- some good and some bad.

    The Japanese knotweed by the Franklin Turnpike entrance is semi-amok  (photo at the top of this post). I often trim it back with clippers, but it is probably nine or ten feet tall in places.

     It blocks the views of the Celery Farm entirely, and it has migrated into my backyard. Unchecked, it will eventually spread to the driveway and actually grow up right through the macadam.

    I plan to attack it as best I can in the next couple days -- time I could be spending on "more important" projects.

    I do not profess to be any sort of plant expert -- far from it -- but I think I saw some Japanese stiltgrass Stiltgrass as well.

    These invasives typically grow fast and spread like poison ivy. They are best addressed before they get too big a foothold, or they require constant attention.

   Garlic mustard seeds can lay dormant for seven years before sprouting. My guess is that volunteers will be pulling up garlic mustard in the spring at the Celery Farm for the foreseeable future.

    The good news is that the ironweed seems to be flourishing (birds and butterflies love it), and I am seeing plenty of jewelweed.

    You don't need to live near the Celery Farm to have invasive plants like garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed sneaking into your yard.

   When I run on River Road in Bogota, N.J., I notice knotweed in a side yard, right next to the sidewalk. You might want to check the fringes of your yard, yank the nasty stuff and put it plastic bags for disposal.


A twilight Celery Farm walk

  Just before dusk on Thursday, the day with the longest daylight, I grabbed a camera and did a quick tour of the Celery Farm. 

   About halfway, I saw the lightning and heard the rumble of thunder, and I picked up my pace. 

   For those who haven't seen the Celery Farm recently, I give you a quick 10 photo tour, in the following order:

1. A view from the Warden's  Watch (obligatory egret shot)

2. Wood duckling pond with duckweed (very good stuff)

3. The Allendale Brook

4. A view from the Pirie Platform

5. The path north of Pirie

6. From the Pink Potty Bridge

7. Parnell's Path

8. The Butterfly Garden

9. The path on the west side

10. A field of jewelweed














  A couple of weeks ago, I went dragonflying in Sussex County and got a whole new appreciation for both the hobby and the bug.  (The birding was darned good, too.)

    I did a story on dragonflying in today's Record, pegged to a dragonfly conference in Sussex, which has the most recorded species in the entire country. 

  (The story's on Page L-3, for those who get The Record at home.)

    I am told that places like the Celery Farm are very good dragonflying spots for beginners and for people who just like to watch these nifty bugs.

    For those who keep life lists, pristine places like High Point State Park are more attractive.

    The reason that Bergen County does not have rarer species is that the rarer species need clean water to breed.

    The Celery Farm and its streams, which get hit hard with stormwater runoff (pesticides, road grime, pet waste) every time we get a heavy rain just don't have much of a chance.

    The Celery Farm does have several nice species, however, including (I am told) ebony jewelwings, blue dashers, lots of amberwings, and lots of common whitetails.  (No, not deer, though I know we have plenty of those, too.)

    It might be fun for some of us to start keeping track and comparing notes.

   Dragonfliers, arise.

   (Note: The photo at the top of this posting is a relatively rare one that I photographed in Sussex after an expert had caught it with a butterfly net. It's called an arrowhead spiketail.)

Hello, Summer


   I thought I'd begin the first day of summer with a walk to the Warden's Watch at the Celery Farm, a relaxing way to start a hectic day.

   The rains of the spring have made the natural area lusher than ever, and I tried to keep my mind off the amount of clipping that needs to be tended to in the next few days.

    I also tried to keep my mind off the 50 Canada geese that had beached Geese_621 themselves on the peninsula to the Warden's Watch. Aside from the mess they were making, they weren't a bother.

   The view of Lake Appert from the Warden's Watch was what I was there for, and it provided just what I was looking for, a sense of calm.

   The lake was still, with nary a ripple. Most birds had already had breakfast. Only a few chimney swifts were darting back and forth above the water.

   In the distance were several great blue herons and an egret stood still near the water's edge.

   Peace and quiet.

    Hello, summer. Stay as long as you can.