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March 2022

Thursday: My James Bond Talk at Hawk Mountain

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I'll be doing a free Zoom talk from my old stomping ground, Hawk Mountain, this Thursday4 at 7 p.m.

I'll be talking about the real James Bond, of course, with a bit of new material -- including Bond's connection to Hawk Mountain.

You can learn more and register here:

Hope to see you then!

Woodcock Walk!

Fyke Nature Association president Mike Limatola led last night's woodcock walk near Halifax Road in Mahwah.

Several were heard, and a couple were seen.

Above, a scene from "The Usual Suspects."

(Thanks, Mike! Fourth from left.)


John Pastore's Celery Farm Magazine

John writes: Img20220316_16005895

Introducing Winter at the Celery Farm Nature Preserve, the Winter 2022 edition of DECADE’S BEST, featuring the photography of John F. Pastore.

John first ‘discovered’ the Celery Farm in the late 1970s, and has been studying the preserve and its inhabitants with his camera since 2009.

Part one of a four-part series, this issue features the scenes of winter – skating and ice hockey, snowstorms and late winter birding.

John shares memories of some of his favorite winter experiences at the Celery Farm, along with his poem Ode to the Celery Farm – Winter.

Click on this link to view an abbreviated preview:

Copies of the full 60-page issue are offered ‘at cost’, for $13.99 (plus tax and shipping) from website:

John did a great job, with wonderful images. See for yourself.

My Column: Birders' 'Spark Birds'

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My column in The Record and other USA Today newspapers in New Jersey is all about birders' "spark birds" -- the birds that got them started in serious birding.

One of the birds -- of course -- was a Scarlet Tanager (above, photo by Darlene De Santis. Thanks, Dee!)

You can read the column here:

By Jim Wright

Special to The Record

  On a podcast many weeks ago, world-famous birder Noah Strycker discussed his “spark bird” – the bird that sparked his interest in birding. Screen Shot 2022-03-17 at 8.04.45 AM That got me wondering. Do other birders have spark birds as well?

   I decided to ask readers and other avian aficionados. As the answers arrived by email, I thought I detected a theme. Of the first four replies, two were for the great blue heron and the other two were for the ruby-throated hummingbird.

   What a perfect dichotomy: the largest bird and smallest bird in our region, each incredible in their own right. The great blue, an apparent throwback to the Land that Time Forgot, and the ruby-throat, a tiny acrobat of a bird that somehow survives in this great big turbulent world of ours.

   Then replies from other birders poured in, some lengthy, some short. I thought I’d share some highlights here, and follow up in my next column (March 31) with other spark birds – and the bird that got me hooked. The replies have been edited for space.

    Ed Canavan of Wayne writes:. My spark bird was a red-bellied woodpecker I saw in Little Falls many years ago. (I also saw a pileated right here in Pine Lakes last year).

    Fred Virrazzi, Colonia: “When I was young, we would read about dinosaurs and explore the local natural area and collect herptiles. One day on a willow in my yard, a striking ‘zebra bird’ was moving on the trunk.

     “Since we were often bitten by snakes while studying them, it kindled a realization that birds had the same patterns and were modern dinosaurs. The bird was a black-and-white warbler, It triggered me to eventually see about 4,500 bird species.” 

    Beth Goldberg, Fair Lawn: “ I had two spark birds seen at the same time in the same tree. I attended a weekend workshop in Sussex County meant to encourage women to engage in outdoor activities. I signed up for Birding 101. We took an early morning bird walk with them during the height of spring migration. 

     “I was amazed to see an indigo bunting and a scarlet tanager in the same tree. The vibrant colors were like nothing I had observed before. I was hooked and hungry for more!

    Landis Eaton, Princeton: “A common yellowthroat on a raft trip in Montana. I couldn't see the bird at first. Grrr! Very frustrating to hear its excited call and not see it! Round and round I went about the bush until finally – a glimpse! Whoa! The masked bandit! Elusive and beautiful. That did it!”

     Ilene Schneider, Marlton: “Until 1981, I had lived only in urban environments. When I moved to the suburbs, I quickly realized the birds in my yard were not pigeons or sparrows, I bought my first guidebook. I was hooked. Spark bird: Northern Cardinal.” 

      How about you? Email me at [email protected]. More in my next column.

   The Bird Watcher column appears every other Thursday.