A Number 10 Day and Birding at the NJ Meadowlands

I drove to the NJ Meadowlands again yesterday for a bird walk that I read about on the Meadowlands Blog. What I really wanted was to respond to an inner voice calling me back to something familiar but…distant. It would be easy to ignore and allow it to grow more distant with all that the world is going faster these days and there is always so much to do. But my passion for nature is reclaiming me and I say come and get me. So I went on the gently guided bird walk with people who also wanted to spend a brilliant Sunday morning wandering dirt trails and bouncing boardwalks, and stopping to listen and look and be.

Our leader, Jim Wright of the NJ Meadowlands Commission

It was one of those precious September days edging on melancholy, when the sun was warm and the humidity low. A cool breeze rustled the phragmites, making them sound like ocean waves hissing onto the sand. Fists of spent Queen Anne’s lace brandished the sky as they curled into the advancing season. My mother calls these “Number Ten days.”
The water level was high in this tidally flowed area. You could barely see the top of a Great Egret’s stick legs. We found four Black Ducks with heads tucked into the down of their backs, floating peacefully before a curtain of reeds, sound asleep, soaking up a few moments of rest before getting back to the business of surviving another day.

These small birding groups are attended by people with a sense of curiosity about everything: birds, bugs, binoculars, cameras. We exchanged and accepted information without the hard and sometimes jaded edge of some of the more experienced birders. Admiration and appreciation are not limited to birds but include flowers, bees, butterflies, less popular insects (I have yet to see anyone kill a spider. Mosquitoes are another story).

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth
Viceroy Butterfly

A Hummingbird Clearwing Moth graced the butterfly weed, as Viceroy butterflies bobbed among the blooms. This one had a torn wing, a sign of prior attack but also of age. I hate that when they reach this stage of life, they are called “rags” and consider it yet another sign of the denigration of age in our society. The chunk nipped from its wing is actually a sign of evolutionary survival. For Viceroy butterflies, imitation is not only a sign of flattery; its coloration is similar to the Monarch butterfly, which is poisoness to birds, so it is usually left alone.
Here is a stand of Black-eyed Susans backing up a troupe of flowers called “Obedient Plant,” which earned its name by its ability to bend any which way without breaking, a skill I have yet to refine.
It is now Monday morning, and a holiday. I hear that voice again.

See ya….

This entry was posted in Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, NJ Meadowlands, Obedient Plant, Viceroy Butterfly. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Number 10 Day and Birding at the NJ Meadowlands

  1. Chris Petrak says:

    We haven't had many No 10 days – and I don't associate NJ Meadowlands with birding – sports and industrial pollutants. But that is when I'm driving by on the turnpike. ah, there is always so much more than we think, and so much that we miss.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey D!

    Always a pleasure to read your blog (loved “fists of spent Queen Anne's lace”).

    Great hear you 1) got some time in the Meadowlands; 2) saw the Swallow-tailed Kite, and 3) to see you at the sod farms a week ago in southern NY state (admiring the American Golden-Plover).

    All best, and enjoy the coming cooler weather!

    John W.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful pics, beautiful lines.
    Glad you had a # 10; you deserve it!
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. dAwN says:

    So glad u had a 10 day! what wonderful photos..and great times with other birders!
    I have never been to that area..but will put it on my list of places to bird and butterfly!

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