High Mountain Feed

Exciting Wild Turducken News!

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As I mentioned in my High Mountain Zoom talk for The Nature Conservancy (you can view it here), I may have made a major discovery.

While hiking near the summit recently, I found a huge turducken-like feather with a quarter next to it  (see image below, note quarter)-- the 25-cent coin a well-known turducken calling card.IMG_0074

A few days later, I came across what could be the first-ever Wild Turducken egg found in the wild (see photo above, note telltale quarter).

I have been seeking these elusive birds for years, ever since Joe Koscielny spotted one at the Celery Farm -- but to no avail.

I have tried every fowl and owl call known to science, including a Wild Haggis call imported from Scotland (see below, upper right), but have not been able to lure a wily Turducken yet.

I have notified the state about the egg discovery and sent the egg for DNA testing. I am told that because of the flood of Coronavirus testing, the lab probably won't report back to next spring -- perhaps by early April.

Stay tuned!


Monday Morning Mystery Answered for Real!

IMG_1435On Monday, I asked:

Near a stream by the Red Trail at the High Mountain Park Preserve, I saw several rocks with small holes in them.

Anyone know what's going on?

William Paterson University Geology Professor Martin Becker writes:

The rock does not appear to be a vesicular or amygdaloidal basalt.

It is also more rounded and not angular as one would expect from the local Preakness Basalt Formation.

The surface color is not a good match either for weathered basalt.  

I think it is a glacial erratic and piece of the Oriskany Sandstone of New York State and what you are looking at are one of two things:

a) non-quartz minerals that have chemically and physically eroded away leaving behind the “holes”

b) remains of ichnofossils in the form of “holes” or “tubes.”  

Prof. Becker asked me to do a test on the rock. Will try to do so...  (Thanks, Prof. Becker!)

A Classic July Trip to High Mountain's Summit

IMG_4275(1)This originally appeared on The Nature Conservancy's Blog. It's one of my favorite posts.

Sometimes a hike becomes more than a hike, and that’s often the case in The Nature Conservancy’s High Mountain Park Preserve in Passaic County.

But a hike that my wife and I took there to celebrate July 4 (2017) was a notch above.

We saw nature at its most beautiful -- butterflies and dragonflies. We saw nature at its most brutal (a Black Snake killing a young bird).

We used modern technology -- an app to measure how tall he summit of High Mountain is.

And we found centuries-old technology in the form of a chert arrowhead.

We saw sassafras and salsify. We met nice people. And we had a picnic lunch at High Mountain’s summit, with its sweeping views of northern New Jersey and Manhattan beyond. All in all, not a bad day.

Okay, the butterflies and the view weren’t really a surprise, but the magic of a walk in the woods is often found in the unexpected, like the delicate if unidentified bloom below.


High Mountain isn’t just any woods, mind you. The 1,260-care preserve, owned by Wayne Township, New Jersey’s Natural Lands Trust, and The Nature Conservancy, not only has 11.5 miles of rugged trails (maintained by the New New Jersey Trail Conference), but it has history and vistas. And it’s essentially in New York City’s front yard.

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A Classic Trip to High Mountain

The Paterson Rambling Club was founded in 1904. The group's first hike was to the summit of High Mountain -- after they had taken a trolley to Haledon.  Joseph Rydings, the group’s leader, wrote many essays about the group's hikes over the years, and “certain choice annals” were collected in his book Country Walks in Many Fields in 1934.

Here is Rydings’ essay about High Mountain, prefaced by a note from the book's Introduction.

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