Thursday, April 17, 2008

Scouting the North for WSB: Bears and Raptors

[Black Bear, second year cub, up a tree in the Pequannock Watershed, NJ, April 17, 2008. Photo digiscoped by Don Freiday, click to enlarge all photos.]

One of the greatest delights of exploring the natural world for me has been scouring New Jersey for birds in preparation for the World Series of Birding, which raises about $500,000 a year for conservation. [More info on this year's May 10 event here, or learn about CMBO's "century run" team here (check May events for details).] I've done the WSB for 18 years as part of CMBO's team, normally scouting the northern part of NJ, and this year is no exception. Today Pete Dunne and I took a rare day off to explore the Pequannock Watershed in Sussex County, where we tied down Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, and Sharp-shinned Hawk for our team's effort in some of the most amazing habitat anywhere. We also bumped into some bears. . .

In spring, there is no better place on earth to look for birds and other wildlife than northern New Jersey - I do not say that lightly (and yes, Cape May is equally good). It's a delight to experience this richness of life in NJ, and a reward for the hard work of NJAS/CMBO's staff, volunteers, and members, who have helped protect many of the state's most important natural resources.

CMBO will this year offer a Birding By Ear North - School of Birding Course, which I'll lead with Cape May's Mark Garland, to cultivate our senses to the voices of Cerulean Warblers, Hermit Thrushes, Golden-winged Warblers, and other gems of the northern NJ's forests.

[Two cubs and their mother were up a tree in north Jersey, thanks to a nearby male bear intimidating them. CMBO's Carl Zeiss Optical WSB team's scouting efforts today found raptors and 6 Black Bears. Photo by Don Freiday.]

[Pete Dunne points to the bears we spotted today. Photo by Don Freiday.]

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