WCAS Forum


Field Trips - Winter 2016-2017

For more information or notification of cancellation of field trips, call Field Trip Chair Brad Merrit at (609) 921-8964; if the trip is described as co-sponsored with the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association (SB-MWA), advance registration is required. To register for such trips or to get more information on them call SB-MWA at (609) 737-7592. There is no fee for most of our field trips; exceptions are noted in the trip description.

Birds of Shark River

A field trip on Saturday, November 12 at 9:00 AM, led by Brad Merritt, Andrew Bobe and Mary Doscher.

Migratory birds from northern climates more frigid than New Jersey's head our way to spend the winter in the warmer, open, and fish-filled waters they find here. Mary Doscher helps us see these winter arrivals as they add beauty and interest to the fresh, brackish, and salt waters along the Jersey shore.

Directions: Take I-295 to I-195 to Route 35 in Belmar. Meet at Marina in Belmar. Bring lunch and beverage, dress for the weather. For more information, contact Brad Merritt (609) 921-8964.

Abbott Marshlands: Marsh Cleanup

A program on Saturday, November 19 from 9:00 AM

Bring gloves, water to drink, wear long sleeves, long pants. Meet at Spring Lake - Roebling Park, Hamilton.

Directions: Take South Broad St. to Sewell Ave. turn onto Sewell at traffic light; at road's end, turn left and continue downhill to parking lot. Contact Mary Leck, 732-821-8310.

Cosponsors: Friends for the Abbott Marshlands, D&R Greenway Land Trust, WCAS.

Winter Bird Walk

A field walk on Saturday, December 3, 8:00-10:00 AM, led by Jeff Hoagland, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association (SBMWA).

Join Education Director, Jeff Hoafland, on a hike of the Watershed Reserve in search of wintering birds. Bring binoculars and dress for winter weather conditions. 15yo+. Free to SBMWA members; $5 Non-member. Register by calling the SBMWA Education Dept, 609-737-7592. Co-sponsored by Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association.

Abbott Marshlands: Bordentown Bluffs

A field walk on Saturday, December 3, from 10:00AM-Noon.

Directions: Take US-206 South; first right after Pointe Breeze apartments. Look for Abbott Marshlands sign.

Cosponsors: Friends for the Abbott Marshlands, D&R Canal State Park, Bordentown Township Environmental Commission, WCAS

117th Annual Christmas Bird Count

Sunday, December 18, 2016 (Princeton Count) Saturday, December 31, 2016 (Trenton Count)

National Audubon Society urges volunteers in central New Jersey to participate in one of Audubon's great traditions, the annual Christmas Bird Count. WCAS sponsors both the Princeton Count, which this year will be held on Sunday, December 18, and the Trenton Count, to be held this year on Saturday, December 31.

This year marks the 117th anniversary of the first Christmas Bird Count, when 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by ornithologist Frank Chapman, changed the course of history. On Christmas Day 1900, the group initiated an alternative to the traditional holiday 'side hunt,' in which teams competed to see which could shoot the most birds. Instead of hunting, the group counted the birds they saw and founded a century-old institution.

Today, over 50,000 volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Pacific islands will count and record every individual bird and bird species encountered during one calendar day. About 1800 individual Christmas Bird Counts will be held during a two-and-a-half week period. Each count group has a designated circle 15 miles in diameter-about 177 square miles--where they try to cover as much ground as possible within a 24-hour calendar day.

Christmas Bird Count serves as an up-to-the-minute bird census. Counters catalogue every bird and bird species they see over one calendar day, from midnight to midnight. Growing in popularity since its inception, the count serves an important scientific function as well. Birds are one of the first groups of animals to be affected by environmental threats like pollution and habitat destruction, and CBC data provide indispensable information, not only on long-term health of bird populations, but also the status of the environment that birds share with all living things.

Apart from its attraction as a social, sporting, and competitive event, the annual count reveals interesting and scientifically useful information on the early-winter distribution patterns of various bird species and the over-all health of the environment.

The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running ornithological database. It continues to grow in importance as a means to monitor the status of resident and migratory bird populations across the western hemisphere. The CBC is 100% volunteer generated data that, over the years, has become a crucial part of the United States Government's natural history monitoring database. Count data from 1900 to the present are currently available through BirdSource (www.birdsource.org), a cooperative project of the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

All counts are open to birders of all skill levels. For more information, contact:

Brad Merritt, P.O. Box 178, Rocky Hill, NJ 08553

609-921-8964, balmerritt@aol.com

Winter Birds at Barnegat Light

A field trip on Saturday, January 7, 2017 at 9:00 AM, led by Brad Merritt.

Barnegat Light, located at the north end of Long Beach Island, is a great site for wintering birds. The inlet, beach, and jetties are well known for unusual visitors, including at times the beautiful harlequin duck. Bring lunch and beverage, and dress warmly.

Call Brad at (609) 921-8964 in the evening one or two days prior to the trip for date, time, and directions.

Welcome Winter Walk in Princeton

A field trip on Saturday, January 7, 2017 at 9:30 AM, led by Jeff Hoagland.

Join SBMWA Education Director Jeff Hoagland on a morning walk at the Mountain Lakes Preserve in Princeton to explore the wonders of the natural world in winter. Discover the unique survival strategies of local plants and animals, learn where animals store food and how they survive the season's relentless chill. If weather permits, we will play the 'Hibernation Game'. Dress warmly, boots are recommended.

Abbott Marshlands

A field trip on Saturday, January 14, at 9:00 AM, led by Brad Merritt, Charles Leck, Andrew Bobe.

Roebling Park is a Mercer County park adjacent to the Hamilton/Trenton marsh. We plan to follow the trails and see how the marsh and its wildlife adjust to the cold weather. In case of inclement weather, contact Brad Merritt at 609-921-8964.

Directions: Take South Broad St. to Sewell Ave. turn onto Sewell at traffic light; at road's end, turn left and continue downhill to parking lot.

Please see the Friends for the Abbott Marshlands website (www.marsh-friends.org) for listings of additional outings that complement those of WCAS. Cosponsor: The Friends for the Abbott Marshlands.

Return to Shark River

A field trip on Saturday, January 28 at 9:00 AM, led by Brad Merritt, Andrew Bobe and Mary Doscher.

The Shark River area allows us to visit a number of interesting habitats (bay, ocean, and fresh water ponds). We can compare the list of birds we saw in November with the birds that decide to stay for the winter.

Directions: Take I-295 to I-195 to Route 35 in Belmar. Meet at Marina in Belmar. Bring lunch and beverage, dress for the weather. For more information and confirmation of trip location, contact Brad Merritt at (609) 921-8964.

Groundhog Day Celebration

A field trip on Saturday, January 28 at 10:00 AM, SBMWA

Celebrate Groundhog Day with the SBMWA Teacher-Naturalists at the Watershed Reserve. Join us on a hike to check out several burrows of these furry weather forecasters, learn about their life history and role in the ecological community and then enjoy the challenge of the hibernation game. After our hike and game, warm up by our outside fire to enjoy roasted marshmallows and a hot beverage.

Round Valley Reservoir

A field trip on Saturday, February 4, at 8:30 AM - noon, led by Mark Witmer and Brad Merritt.

This reservoir in northern Hunterdon County covers over 4,000 acres, is more than 180 feet deep, and is a popular recreational site year-round. Winter is a good time to search for bald eagles, various waterfowl, and gulls. Depending on weather conditions, we will combine this with a tour of the adjacent Cushetunk Mountain Nature Preserve or nearby Spruce Run Recreation Area. For further information, or notice of trip cancellation due to weather, call Mark Witmer at (609) 730-0826.

Tracks and Trails

A field trip on Saturday, February 4, at 8:30 AM, led by Jeff Hoagland, SBMWA

Join SBMWA Education Director Jeff Hoagland for a winter hike out on the Reserve trails and learn how to identify animal tracks. We don't always see the wild animals that live nearby so Jeff will help you interpret the signs that they leave behind. Dress warmly and wear boots.


Sat, Mar 11, 8:30 AMAssunpink WMA
Sun, Mar 19, 1:30 PMWashington Crossing
Sat, Mar 25, 7:30 AMCumberland County
Sat, Apr 1, 8 AMMercer Meadows Pole Farm
Sun, Apr 9, 9 AMPeace Valley PA
Sat, Apr 29, 8 AMAbbott Marshlands
Sat, May 6, 7:30 AMGarrett Mountain
Sun, May 7, 8 AMPrinceton Institute Woods
Sat, May 13, All DayWCAS Birdathon
Sat, May 20, 8 AMPrinceton Institute Woods
Sun, May 21, 8 AMBaldpate Mountain
Sat, May 27, 8 AMNegri-Nepote Grasslands
Sat, Jun 3, 7 AMDelaware Water Gap
Sat, Jun 10, 8:30 AMWashington Crossing SP
Sat, Jun 17, 8 AMAssunpink WMA
Sat, Jun 24, 8 AMMercer Meadows Pole Farm
Sat, Aug 19, 9 AMAllentown Sod Farms
Suggestions to WCAS If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact us at:   contact.wcas@gmail.com

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Last revision: Saturday, November 26, 2016