Monday, October 03, 2005

Fauna of northern New Jersey

I ride my bicycle on most Saturdays and Sundays. My rides take me around our part of New Jersey. Although I take rides of varying length, my average ride is 25-30 miles. I climb a few steep hills on each ride; this is my penance for the cookies and ice cream I may eat during a given week.

The most common route I take is west into Montclair and then north to Paterson. I usually climb Garret Mountain, and from there I often proceed into Totowa along the Passaic River. I then follow the river into Little Falls, Wayne, Fairfield, and sometimes as far as Lincoln Park. I will then proceed back towards home through North Caldwell and Cedar Grove, passing the Newark Reservoir in Cedar Grove along the way.

On my trips I always see a variety of animals. Yesterday was a good day for sighting fauna. I saw four deer outside Garret Mountain Reservation in Clifton; they sprinted across Mountain Park Road into the park. This was an unusual occurrence for midday. Later on, I saw what I believe was a green heron perched on a log in the Passaic River in Totowa. I have seen this same bird several times before, but I am still not sure of its exact species.

I did not spot any wild turkeys on this trip, although I have seen some before on Garret Mountain. I did, however, see a dead woodchuck. Most the road kill I see consists of opossums, squirrels, and raccoons, so the woodchuck was something different. I do see the occasional live woodchuck in my travels, but there were none yesterday.

Hawks are another common sight, but I did not see any yesterday. Aside from the aforementioned heron/egret/bittern the other highlight of the trip was what appeared to be a turtle on a rock in the middle of the Passaic River. It was rather far away, so I could not tell for sure what it was. We’ll count it as a possible sighting.

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