As mentioned in an earlier post, for the ninth year in a row I have participated in a fund raiser for The Nature Conservancy (and also for New Jersey Audubon). Teams of birders "compete" by positively identifying as many species as possible anywhere in the state of New Jersey within a 24 hour period - midnight to midnight. It's full on "speed birding" for a cause. Teams roam the state setting their own course, and scaring the locals on the way.
A peaceful roadside burger stand in North Jersey, families seated outside and eating lunch. Suddenly a van screeches to a halt - 4 scruffy sleep deprived guys stumble out, lugging spotting scopes and binocs, gesturing overhead and scanning all around. One of them shouts "Black Vulture! On the wing!" The other guys respond - "Got it! Got it! Got it! Check!" Then "Move move move!!!" as they leap back in and take off in a cloud of dust.
OK so that's all well and fine, but... birding... in Jersey???
Yes, Jersey. Long story short, it's actually a birding hot-spot on the East coast. The state has beautiful and scenic spots which - thanks to this event - I have gotten to know well.
This year was extra exciting, but not all in a good way. My team's rented van broke down in a swamp, forcing us to spend about 1/4 of our day getting a tow, borrowing a car, etc... We made the most of a day that got off to a horrible start, managing to see 150 species.
Also of note, our team was profiled in a Reuters story that was picked up by MSNBC. The Nature Conservancy has also put up a nice "thank you" letter to our supporters here. All my pictures from the event this year here. Enjoy!