UPCOMING FIELD TRIPS
Saturday, March 10, 5:30 pm
Saturday, April 14,
Saturday, May 5,
Enjoy a “woodcock walk” at Big Brook Park with Monmouth County Audubon Society March 10
The Monmouth County Audubon Society will sponsor an evening field trip to Big Brook County Park in search of American Woodcock on Saturday, March 10, at 5:30 pm. Participation is free.
Located on County Road 520 in Marlboro, the original 379 acre parcel of land that established Big Brook Park was formerly used as farmland for patients at the Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital, located across the street. The Monmouth County Park System purchased this property, which once contained a piggery, dairy farm and other agricultural operations, from the state in 1997, around the time it closed the hospital. In 2010, the Park System purchased an additional 36 acres, bringing the park total to 415 acres. Named for Big Brook, which drains into the Swimming River Reservoir, the park contains forest made up of young wetland and maturing American beech, white oak, tulip poplar and hickory trees. Perhaps the park is better known for its rolling fields; made up of grasses, goldenrod and other perennials that provide a contiguous field habitat for butterflies, birds and other wildlife.
One bird species in particular is the target for this trip: the American Woodcock. American Woodcock spend most of their time hidden in fields and on the forest floor, where they probe for earthworms. On spring nights, however, their priorities change, and attracting a mate becomes more important than remaining camouflaged. Males advertise for a mate with a buzzy “peent” call. That vocalization signals the start of one wacky courtship display. The male takes flight and climbs from 50 to 100 yards into the air. He descends, zigzagging and banking while singing a liquid, chirping song. This high spiraling flight produces a melodious twittering sound as air rushes through the male's outer primary wing feathers. This display is truly like nothing else in nature and is why the group is making a special trip at dusk to experience it.
The group will meet at 5:30 pm in the parking lot of the park, located just off County Road 520.
Participants should dress in weather-appropriate clothing, keeping in mind that temperatures drop quickly toward evening.
Visit Sandy Hook with Audubon Society April 14
Spring is officially here, and with it comes the annual migration of raptors and songbirds along the Atlantic Flyway. Join the Monmouth County Audubon Society for a spring Bird Walk to look for these migrants. The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 14, on Sandy Hook.
The peninsula of Sandy Hook acts as a natural funnel to the north-flying migrants. The birds prefer flying over land to flying over water and often “lay over” at Sandy Hook to feed and renew their energy before flying over the expansive Raritan Bay and New York Harbor. This geography makes Sandy Hook an excellent place to observe many species of migrating birds in a limited area, including the nesting Osprey (shown above). The bird “guest list” changes daily at Sandy Hook, depending on weather conditions and food supply.
The trip will be led by members of the Monmouth County Audubon Society who are familiar with Sandy Hook and its birds. Linda Mack, past MCAS president and Sandy Hook trip leader, explains, “The lure of Sandy Hook isn’t just the birds. Sandy Hook is a peaceful, beautiful natural area with a variety of interesting habitats to explore. And spring is one of the best times to visit,” she concludes, “because of the abundance of birds and wildlife. Falcons such as the American Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon migrate north along the coast. The songbirds begin arriving in late March, along with the Osprey (listed as “Threatened” by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection) and the federally threatened Piping Plover.”
Anyone interested in participating in the event can meet at 10:00 am in the parking lot of the former Sandy Hook Visitor’s Center, located 1.8 miles north of the park entrance. This is across the road from the Spermaceti Cove observation boardwalk.
About our field trips
MCAS field trips are open to both members and non-members of the Monmouth County Audubon Society, and admission is always free. (Some trips occasionally require admission fees to parks, or special fares. These will be noted.) Advance registration is not required. Participants should bring binoculars and field guides and should dress appropriately for the weather, including clothing suitable for rain if the forecast is questionable. Conditions along the coast can be blustery and unpredictable at this time of year. Pets are not permitted. Why?
In case of inclement weather...
We try to run our field trips even if there are showers predicted. However, in the event of severe weather that would affect the safety of the group and restrict travel, trips are occasionally postponed or cancelled. The decision on whether or not to hold a field trip will be made by 6:00 pm the night before. In the event of a cancelled or postponed event, we will post a notice on this page as well as our Facebook page. Please check back if there are any questions.
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