2003 World Series of Birding: WE DID IT!
Team Hackensack Riverkeeper lists 100+ species for the third year in a row
By Hugh M. Carola
Bird number one was an Eastern screech owl poking its head out of its Montvale nest box at 5:20 AM and number 106 was a male Red-breasted merganser flying across the Hackensack River from Secaucus to Carlstadt at 8:00 PM. It was a long day that saw Team Hackensack Riverkeeper – Stan Blumenfeld, Kerul Kassel and me, team leader Hugh Carola – pull off a stunning come-from-behind effort to once again list over one hundred bird species within the confines of the Hackensack River watershed. Don’t laugh – by 1:30 we only had seventy species listed and any birder will tell you that the climb to one hundred only gets harder as the afternoon wears on.
May 10, 2003 marked the twentieth year of the New Jersey Audubon Society’s World Series of Birding (WSB) and the third year of our participation in this “extreme birding” event. Since 1984, many millions of dollars have been raised for local environmental groups by teams of birders who scour the state listing as many bird species as they can during the 24-hour “birdathon” and the good people who pledge them money. Here are some of the highlights from our part of the action:
· 17 Warbler species listed (down from 21 in 2002)
· Newly-listed species this year: Red-breasted merganser, Dunlin
· Utterly unexpected listings: Red-necked grebe, Virginia rail, Tri-colored heron, and Great horned owl (the last having been flushed by a model plane).
· Easiest listing: 2 Wild turkeys at the birdfeeders in Greenbrook Sanctuary.
· Strangely absent: Turkey vulture and Great blue heron. Go figure!
· Best “new” birding hotspot (AND the place that literally ensured us a three-figure finish): Losen Slote Park in Little Ferry.
I would be remiss if I ended this report without recognizing some folks whose help was critical to our success: For the third time, the folks at United Water New Jersey allowed us to bird “inside the fences” at Lake Tappan and Oradell Reservoir. Because of their hospitality, three-peat kudos are in order to Ray Cywinski and his colleagues in Harrington Park. Second, through its corporate sponsorship, Shop Rite Supermarkets allows Team Hackensack Riverkeeper to take part in the WSB as a Level One Team – right up there with the team from Nikon who won the Series with an all-time high score of 231species! Without our friend (and MIA team member) Tim Vogel, we’d never have gotten our name on the official T-shirt. Finally, our team wouldn’t even be a team without Kerul and Stan. Thank you both (and your spouses) so very much for making the day a winner!
And finally, the bottom line: when the pledges were tallied and all the donations were in, we raised over two thousand dollars – literally DOUBLE what we raised last year – to support the ongoing work of Hackensack Riverkeeper. Many were people who pledged before but a whole new “flock” of supporters joined with us this year. On behalf of the team, Capt. Bill and all of us at Hackensack Riverkeeper, thanks to all of you who helped make the 2003 World Series of Birding a success!
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