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September 2007

August 2007

Hello, hawk season



   Tomorrow, Sept. 1, marks the kickoff for several hawk watches in North Jersey and nearby New York State.

  I have a story about the hawk watches and the fall migration in The Record today. The State Line Lookout in Alpine, featured in the story, is pictured above.

   Of special interest to fans of the Celery Farm, a natural area created in large part because of Marsh Warden Stiles Thomas, is the fact that he also founded the hawk watches at Mount Peter and Hook Mountain in nearby New York State.

    Mount Peter will be doing its 50th autumn hawk count this year. Below is a photo of Stiles Thomas at Mount Peter in the 1960s.



    A little known fact along those lines: The hawk watch at Hook Mountain is on "Stiles Summit," named after the Celery Farm's marsh warden.

   My story also contains a list of hawk-watch Web sites -- including several that could use volunteers to help with the counts. I am providing the links here.

   The Fyke Nature Association, by the way, is planning a field trip to Mount Peter for Sept. 15, which just might be a peak day.

   I used to live at the foot of Mount Peter, and I became interested in hawk-watching as a result of a newspaper story about a Boy Scout project to build an observation deck on Mount Peter.

   And yes, it was an Eagle Scout project Artieas I recall.

  Typically, the peak of the broad-winged hawk migration occurs in two weeks or so.

   On Sunday, Sept. 16, I plan to be at Hawk Mountain, and Stiles Thomas is planning to be at Hook Mountain.  

   If it's a big day at Hook Mountain in the morning, the broadwings could well be coming through Hawk Mountain later in the day.

   We hope to compare notes by telephone -- call it "by Hook or by Hawk." 

   I'll post the results as soon thereafter as I can.

    Here are the links:

State Line Lookout:

Montclair Hawk Watch:

Wildcat Ridge:

Hook Mountain:

Mount Peter:


Bat update w/short video


   I did my second summer bat count for the state's Endangered and Non-Game Species program recently.

  I counted 50 bats, large and small, emerging from under the roof-line of my neighbor's house. Earlier this summer, I had counted 39 bats.

   The trick to counting is to count them only as they fly out for the night. Otherwise, you could easily count the same bat twice.

    They don't live in the attic, just under the wood trim, and she is nice enough to let them stay there.

   The goal, however, is for them to move across the driveway to my nice new bat houses (top).

   I am told by bat experts that this won't happen until next spring at the earliest.

   I can't wait. Bats are a vital part of the food chain, eating thousands of insects, and bat residences near places like the Celery Farm are ideal.

   I am a little jealous that my neighbor has bats and I don't.

   During the recent  count, I kept an eye on the new boxes but saw no bats leaving. I also aimed my camera up one of the boxes' baffles (below), and they werNo_batse clean as a whistle.

No tenants yet, as expected.

   I did do a four-second video of a bat leaving next door, linked here. You can see the bat leaving from under the trim on the left side.

   Just don't blink. Trying to count these guys is the challenge and fun of bat counting.

Download MVI_3037.avi 

Celery Farm swan



  Saw a mute swan on Lake Appert this morning [insert positive or negative reaction here].

   Also of note. The waxwings are still chowing down on bugs at the Warden's Watch. Waxwing 

I have never seen them so close for so long

   Meanwhile, a great blue heron flew in and perched maybe 10 yards away and seemed to want his picture taken -- no doubt his bill was out of joint with all the attention the egrets have been getting on this blog.


Squirrel update



     The squirrel family is still living in another tree condo somewhere, and I think it's in the neighborhood.

   I saw Mrs. Squirrel in our back yard the other day, making off with a black walnut. At first glance, it looked like a lime.

   She disappeared into the jewelweed patch, then I saw the leaves shake on our nearby arbor.

  Soon after, Mrs. Squirrel popped up (uper right-hand corner, photo above) without the nut.

   Later, I went down to the arbor to investigate. I found the black walnut on top (in center of photo), wedged into some vines. Walnut

   Storing up fuel for the winter?

   Speaking of nuts (insert "crazy" joke here), the acorns have been falling so frequently on the path near the Warden's Watch the past couple of days that I thought it was raining.

   A local chipmunk was indeed going nuts, and I'm told that wood ducks consider acorns a delicacy as well.