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Hackensack Meadowlands #1

Now is a good time for the Meadowlands. Southbound shorebirds are stopping at the Environment Center pool at the end of Valley Brook Road in Lyndhurst and on the large adjacent tidal flat. Also check the mudflat on Clay Avenue (off Valley Brook) in the corporate center on your way in or out. Drive into the parking lot on the west side of the road and look though the screen of phragmites. When the center pool is high, this is an alternate resting place. The area gets both yellowlegs, Stilt Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, large numbers of Semipalmated sandpipers and occasional Wilson's Phalarope, Hudsonian Godwit (when pool is drawn down) and an occasional avocet. Other birds in summer may include Caspian or Black Tern, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, the usual complement of Least and Forster's terns, Black Skimmer, lots of egrets and Black-crowned Night-Heron.

Reach this area from New Jersey Turnpike Exit 16W, take Route 3 west, and Route 17 south to Lyndhurst. Follow the signs to Polito Avenue, HMDC and DeKorte State Park. Take Polito Avenue to Valley Brook Avenue, go left on Valley Brook, take it to the end and park. Do the boardwalk and the flat, then Clay Avenue.

Hackensack Riverkeeper, Inc. runs 2-hour Eco-Cruises of the Hackensack River and Meadowlands aboard the Riverkeeper's specially-rigged pontoon boats.  Choice of sailing route depends on the tides and the time of day.  Some of the places that might be visited include:  Bellman's Creek, Chromakill Creek, the Mill Creek Marsh, Kingsland Creek, Berry's Creeks and the Berry's Creek Canal.  For more information, visit the Eco-Cruises web page.

While you are in the Meadows, be sure to visit Kearny East at the S-bend in the Hackensack River in Kearny. From Schuyler Avenue on the west side of the Meadows, take Route 7 (Belleville Pike) east toward Jersey City. After you pass the WMCA radio towers on your left, watch for the JANITEX sign. There are 2 lefts; one into Janitex (don't take it); and the second (do take it) into the Amtrak gate. The road is paved; watch the sleeping policemen! (bumps in road). If the gate is open, you can drive left along the river, but in the p.m. you could get locked in. It is better to park outside the gate and before the trailer. Walk along the river and up to the next tracks that border Sawmill WMA. Along the way on the left is the Kearny East marsh, which has breeding coot, Pied-billed Grebe, Common Moorhen, and lots of summering egrets, cormorants, sometimes terns, and a roost of Black-crowned Night-Heron.

-- Rich Kane