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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Tony Croasdale
March 27, 2010 (Saturday)
Franklin Parker Preserve, New Jersey
Ten members and 28 non-members attended the DVOC field trip to NJ Conservation Foundation's Prairie Warbler Preserve and Franklin Parker Preserve in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. We were guided by NJCF's Dr Emille DeVito. Emille's intense charisma, encyclopedic knowledge of the natural world and insights into local politics were a huge hit with the crowd. He guided us through these reserves with a narration presented in a style that was almost like a rock front-man mixed with a New York city comedian.
Our first stop was in Brendan Byrne State Forest to look for barred owl. Although we were unsuccessful, we were treated to Emille's synopsis of Atlantic white cedar history and politics, and were informed that this floodplain was the second largest white cedar swamp in New Jersey. New Jersey in the stronghold of Atlantic white cedar.
Next stop was near New Lisbon on the edge of the Prairie Warbler preserve. This area of the Pines was hit with a tornado and has left an extensive area of dead trees. This has been able to sustain a growing population of red-headed woodpecker. We were fortunate to see at least four of these spectacular birds. We also had great views of eastern blue bird and pine warbler.
The last half of the trip was in Franklin Parker Preserve. This is one of my favorite places on earth! This reserve is a large area of old cranberry bogs, impoundments and pine barrens. We toured the reserve and Emille filled us in on the reserve's back story, current status with Atlantic white cedar restoration and the dirt on cranberry farming. Over the bogs had several northern harriers including a gray ghost and were treated to a view of an incubating bald eagle with her mate soaring overhead.
Overall it was a fantastic trip. While everyone enjoyed all the good birds and beautiful scenery, it was certainly Emille's infectious personality that was the hit of the day.