Monday, September 6, 2021

Identify This Mammal

 Some of my most popular posts - and most frequent comments and emails - are about identifying a species. Some queries have a clear photo but many do not. Some sightings have no photo or video or other information (location, time of day, habitat, activity etc.) 

Since people seem to enjoy these, here is one that came to me recently from Paul H. in Byram Township (Sussex County). A nice sharp photo of a _____?______   Can you identify? Looking online for help is encouraged. Let's see what the crowd says in the comments and we'll post the answer if no one gets it.

A few things to note. No white patch seen on the underside. Dark claws. Check out that tail and the water background.

Post a comment answer and give us a reason why.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

September Programs at Sandy Hook


Sandy Hook Lighthouse

Here are some featured programs this month at Sandy Hook.

Junior Ranger Color Guard: Stars and Stripes Forever
Monday, September 6 - Labor Day  1 PM – 2:30 PM
Guardian Park, Fort Hancock Post

The Junior Rangers will learn about the history of the American flag, how it has changed several times throughout the nation’s 244+ years, and the meaning behind its symbolism. Call (732) 872-5970 to make a reservation.

Ktàpihëna, “We Are Here”: Finding Connections in Lënape Land
Friday, September 10   5:30PM – 7 PM
North Beach - Beach Plaza, Upper Level

What makes you feel connected to a place? Join us for an exploration of Sandy Hook's first peoples, the Lënape, and their historic and current connections to this landscape. Along the way, we will discuss Lënape lifeways, hear their voices, and how we acknowledge who is connected to a landscape. Call (732) 872-5970 to make a reservation.

Killdeer Chick, Sandy Hook  N.J.
Killdeer chick at Sandy Hook - Flickr

Who are the “Black Brain Scientists” and How Did They Change the Future of America?Sunday, September 12   4 PM – 5 PM

Fort Hancock Museum Grounds, Building 28

Learn how Fort Hancock helped to usher in the Dawn of the Space Age. Explore the little-known history of Fort Hancock's role in providing a place that allowed a diverse group of scientists and engineers to create the technology that would lead to the development of radars, satellites, GPS, drones and much more. Examine the connection between Fort Hancock and Fort Monmouth's black scientists dubbed the “Black Brain Center” of America.  Call (732) 872-5970 to make a reservation.

The Sandy Hook Foundation will host an All-Star Benefit Concert
Sunday afternoon, September 26.

Proceeds from the concert will support The Sandy Hook Foundation, which directly supports the park. The concert is a fair-weather event. If a storm or COVID restrictions cause a cancellation, your tax-deductible ticket donation will directly support programs and projects within Sandy Hook. To learn more go to

For the full calendar of activities at Sandy Hook and the rest of the Gateway National Recreation Area in NY and NJ see

Sandy Hook New Jersey 2020
Sandy Hook NJ - Wikimedia

Friday, August 27, 2021

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Found in Burlington County

The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in a deer recently sampled in Burlington County. EHD is not a threat to public health, but we advise against consuming meat from any game animal that appears ill.

EHD outbreaks typically begin in late summer and disease transmission ends when the first hard frost kills the midges that carry the disease.

The Division is asking the public to be alert for deer that may be affected by EHD and to report any suspected cases. Symptoms include difficulty standing, drooling, lethargy, respiratory distress, foam from the mouth or nose, and swelling of the face, tongue, and neck. Sick or dead deer are often seen in or near water.

Reports can be made to:

Monday, August 23, 2021

Every Sound Has a Memory To It

Diane Moser

In December 2020, we lost Diane Moser who was known as a musician rather than an environmentalist. We were acquaintances, perhaps even friends, but we became closer in the last years of her life because of a project she started involving the music of bird songs.

Come Walk and Listen from Dennis Connors on Vimeo composition by Diane Moser
Improvisations by Diane Moser - piano, Anton Denner - flutes - Ken Filiano - bass.
Music recorded at Rockland Recording, Orangeburg, NY April 22, 2019.
Recording engineer, mixing and mastering by John Guth.

Diane wrote me last summer after a conversation we had at a party. She said "Here's something for you that I came upon today, through my research. It is Barry Truax's book Acoustic Communication (he worked with R. Murray Schafer on The World Soundscape Project). There is a chapter called "Listening to the Past" that you should read.

I read it and this was the quote that I wrote down. 
"The individual listener within a soundscape is not engaged in a passive type of energy reception, but rather is part of a dynamic system of information exchange. Similarly, soundscape composition is an open circuit in which the composer communicates the essence of a place to listeners."
Diane said that quote was pretty much what she was after with her new project. The project was recording endangered and threatened coastal and wetlands birds and their environments and then composing music to that. 

Diane had just come back from a conference in June and she said that a group of people there agreed that "creating empathy is the first line of environmental communication."

Diane gave me a copy of her album BIRDSONGS and then emailed me some background and recommendations for further reading. 

"I recommend R. Murray Schafer's book, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and The Tuning of the WorldHere is something I wrote recently for a grant proposal: "To evoke a memory of nature, or feelings of compassion for nature is often times the first step for someone to take action in the form of volunteering, voting, protesting, signing petitions and so forth. It is my hope that this will happen with this new project."

"I was looking through Pauline's book Deep Listening: A Composers Practice. Here is a little of what she writes -
...sounds carry intelligence: ideas, feelings and memories can be triggered by sounds
...if you are too narrow in your awareness of sounds, you are likely to be disconnected from your environment
...more often than not, urban living causes narrow focus and disconnection
...too much information is coming into the auditory cortex, or habit has narrowed listening to only what seems of value and concern to the listener...all else is tuned out or discarded as garbage.
Diane told me that what she was finding interesting on her bird hikes was that people were talking. They weren't so much listening to the birds so much as they were looking for them. She said that she would either stay ahead of them to hear a good leader or more often stay way behind so she could listen and record.

I think that every sound has a memory to it. We all don't share the same memories for the same sound, but that is also quite beautiful. Tuning in to the sounds of nature and hearing the music there is a gift not all of us were given. Thankfully, the gift has been given to some of us, and they want to share it with us. Thanks, Diane.


Monday, August 16, 2021

The 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in New Jersey

Shafer Grist Mill - via

Each year, a list of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in our state is released by Preservation New Jersey. They base their choices on three criteria: historic significance and architectural integrity; the critical nature of identified threats, and the likelihood that inclusion on the state list will have a positive impact on protection efforts.

This year's list includes:

  • Allen AME Church, City of Cape May, Cape May County
  • The Borough of Cape May Point, Cape May County
  • City of Elizabeth, Union County
  • James Street Commons Historic District, Newark, Essex County
  • Greater is He Ministries (former St. Monica’s Episcopal Church), Trenton, Mercer County
  • The Robert Marshall House, Gloucester Township, Camden County
  • Shafer Grist Mill, Stillwater, Sussex County
  • The Shahn House & Studio, Roosevelt, Monmouth County 
  • Tomlinson House, Stratford, Camden County
  • COVID-19’s Impact to Historic Resources
For more information about the 10 sites, visit