Monday, November 30, 2009

Naturalist Profile: Frank DeBlasio

NJ Outdoors was fortunate enough to be able to interview Frank DeBlasio, life-long New Jersey resident and wildlife photographer. Check out the short interview below along with some of Frank's photographs.

What are your favorite areas of the state to visit?
My favorite part of NJ is Sussex County in the spring & fall. The Jersey Shore in the summer.

What are some of your favorite outdoors activities?
I love hunting, fishing & photography in New Jersey.

How did you first become interested in nature/wildlife photography (or photography in general)?
I have always carried a camera around since I was a child - you never know what you will see out there.

Do you have any favorite subjects (certain birds, mammals, etc)?
I think that the Wild Turkey is my favorite to photograph, but I love to photograph all wildlife. White-tailed deer and hawks are high on my list. I also like to photograph sports - especially football.

Any advice for novice photographers out there who might be reading this?
I am NOT a professional by any means. I am always learning. With wildlife you have to put a lot of time in. Even in a zoo it's not that easy to get the right shot. But in the wild it's much harder. You have to get to know where the animals & birds are at certain times ff the day, year, etc. Sometimes I wear camo, use calls, whatever it takes. Just learn your camera & get out there ! ! !

All photographs (c) Frank DeBlasio

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Late Autumn Feast

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to get some visitors before leaving for work. The berry tree outside our third-floor condo's window had welcomed the occasional flock of American Robins and even a few Cedar Waxwings, but it never seemed to be living up to its bird-attracting potential. Well, it certainly did on this morning.

The usual suspects like House Sparrows and American Robins were lined up for their turn at the red berries. A Dark-Eyed Junco, the first of the season outside our condo, showed up and snuck a few quick bites.

Our resident Downy Woodpecker, which we have affectionately named Robert Downy Jr., also joined in on the festivities - although he mostly stuck to the suet feeder. To my surprise a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker showed up for the first time outside our condo and downed a few berries!

A few American Goldfinches flew in, followed by some unwelcomed European Starlings. Some of my favorite birds joined in on the festivities as well - a small flock of Cedar Waxwings flew into the tree to feast. Such cool-looking birds!

If anyone knows what kind of tree this is, please let me know. I'm still fairly bad with plant IDs, unless it's a Sweet Gum or an American Holly.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fishers and tracking in New Jersey

In the latest issue of Trail Walker, a publication of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, Robynn K. Shannon takes a look at the return of fishers to Sussex County in northern New Jersey (page 7). These nocturnal mustelids are extremely elusive and were only confirmed in the state with the use of strategically placed camera traps.

The wildlife biologist who works most extensively with these camera traps, Charlie Kontos, has also written an article which appears on page 7 of this issue. He discusses the tracking of both fishers and bobcats in northern New Jersey during the winter. This knowledge helped him to eventually capture a fisher on camera in 2006, the first known record in the state since the late 1800s.

Photo by Charlie Kontos (c) 2006

Kontos, a PhD student in the Ecology & Evolution graduate program at Rutgers University, also runs his own website chronicling the history of the fisher in New Jersey. The site can be found here and also includes photos, interesting information about the predator, and much more regarding the Garden State's lesser seen wildlife. Check out both the Trail Walker and The New Jersey Fisher Experience to learn more about the state's most impressive hunters.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who says nature isn't funny?

I took this photo last year just down the block from my condo, near one of the man-made ponds. Coincidence? Or was this Belted Kingfisher stickin' it to the man? The world may never know.

This photo is currently being featured on the front page of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds site, a great resource for birders and nature-lovers.

The Flickr page can be found here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wawayanda State Park

Join Wild New Jersey's David Wheeler as he hikes Wawayanda State Park. His light-hearted "Wild Wawayanda" series is currently running on the Wild New Jersey site. Head over there now to check out part 3!

Photos (c) David Wheeler 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Big day in Cape May

This morning in Cape May a Northern Goshawk was spotted at the Meadows during a morning walk. A short time later, a Swainson's Hawk was seen flying over one of the fields at the Beanery. Add a Western Kingbird to the mix and it's quite the day for mid-autumn birding down at the tip of New Jersey!

Swainson's Hawk (c) Jerry Oldenettel 2007

While the Northern Goshawk's southern range does extend into New Jersey during the winter, it is still a treat to see one this early in the year that isn't flying overhead at a Hawkwatch. The Swainson's Hawk and Western Kingbird are true rarities in the state, as their eastern ranges do not usually extend beyond the Mississippi River. These three make for quite the trio - just remember to be courteous to both the birds and other people if you plan on heading down to search for them.

Western Kingbird (c) Matt Knoth 2009

Follow the Cape May Bird Observatory twitter for sightings and updates:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vote Yes Tomorrow!

For information on public question number 1 and why it is imperative that we all vote "yes", please visit - thanks!