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February 2023

Monday Morning Mystery 022723

Mystery shoreird chick 842A2772
A recent mystery involved a carving on display at NJ Audubon's Lorrimer Sanctuary.

While I was visiting, sanctuary director Alexa Fantacone gave me a look at a large and ancient collection of taxidermied birds. (Yes, we wore COVID masks and gloves in case any of the birds were preserved with arsenic.)

Some proved to be of value, including several labeled bird skins from the Smithsonian.

Other proved to be mysteries, like this unlabeled young taxidermied shorebird.

What is it?


More about that High Mountain Painting

Fletcher High MountainLast week I wrote about my artist friend Bob Fletcher, who died recently.

One of my favorite paintings of his featured High Mountain in the distance. I've always loved the story behind it -- Bob said that in the winter, after a heavy snowfall, the sight of the local bus plowing snow meant that the school would soon be open.

Susan Serico, director of the North Haledon Public Library, adds to the story:

"We have a copy of this painting in the library. I remember my mother, who lived up on the top of Manchester Avenue from 1942 basically until her death in 2005, telling me the Bingler bus (one that went from North Haledon to downtown Paterson) plowed the roads.

"The bus got stuck up there one year and she was asked if they could use one of her large oak trees as leverage. She fiercely protected her tree and somehow they managed to get the bus out without tying a rope to her beloved tree. By the way, the tree still stands!"

I'm sure that Bob would have loved the story.

Free Nature Talk This Friday

Passing this along...

Feb. 24, 2023, Friday - Fyke Monthly Meeting: 8 pm via Zoom
Grassland Birds Are Thriving in the Least Likely Place (A Former Landfill)

The number of birds in North America has fallen by about 30 percent over the past 50 years, and grassland birds have suffered particularly large losses. But something of a miracle is happening to grassland species on a small scale—on Staten Island.

At the 2,000-acre Freshkills Park, formerly the site of the world’s largest landfill, 1,000 acres have been restored to grasslands. And grassland birds are thriving. In just a short time Freshkills has become the home of 300-plus pairs of nesting Savannah Sparrows, 82 pairs of Grasshopper Sparrows (likely the largest population in the region), and 8 pairs of Sedge Wrens, plus Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks.

In this zoom presentation, two researchers—Dr. Shannon Curley and Jose Ramirez-Garofalo—present their ongoing research involving grassland birds at Freshkills, and highlight the conservation successes in a maturing grassland habitat. Shannon is an ecologist with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and an adjunct professor at CUNY College of Staten Island. Jose is a PhD student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources at Rutgers University.

Shannon says they'll be adding updated results from the last breeding season, and some "exciting upcoming work" they'll be doing with tracking grassland birds. So don't miss it.

Here's the link to register:

Since 2015 Fyke's monthly meeting costs have been funded by a generous grant from the Winifred M. and George P. Pitkin Foundation.

Monday Morning Mystery Answered

842A2789Last week I asked:

What is it? Who carved it? Where can you see this carving? And, a toughie -- who donated it?

The answers.

The bird is a Northern Flicker.

Stiles Thomas carved it.

You can see it at Lorrimer Sanctuary in Franklin Lakes.

It was donated by Fyke member Nancy Drabik.

Sad News about a Great Man & Great Artist

Fletcher High Mountain
I learned this week about the death of a dear old friend, Bob Fletcher, a wonderful artist who lived with his wife Betty in Warwick, N.Y.

Back when I lived up that way, I had seen his fine-arts prints of Warwick scenes in a local bookshop and immediately became a huge fan.

Patty, Corie and I would visit Bob and Betty at their farm, admire Bob's paintings, and bask in the warmth of their friendship and kindness.

Of all his paintings, the one that stays with me is one that Bob did from a childhood memory of North Haledon. It is pictured above.

Bob said (and I hope I get this right) that in the winter, after a heavy snowfall, the sight of the local bus plowing snow meant that the school would soon be open.

Later, when I fell in love with High Mountain, I remembered Bob's wintry print.

There in the background, beckoning like a beacon, is High Mountain.

Bob will always be in our hearts.