The Big Sit 2010
The Swamp Sitters held their 4th annual circle at the Overlook. The night birders were rewarded with King Rail, Sora, Coot and Loon. An unforgettable view of Jupiter and her moons, shooting stars, the howl of coyotes and an awesome serenade of Great Horned, Screech and Barred Owls as they tried to outdo one another.
Weather went from 40°F at midnight to a low of 29°F where it stayed for several hours, a little too long for some! From the first rays of dawn we had a steady stream of avian enthusiasts join the circle and by 9 a.m. there were about 56 species on the list.
The core team of about two dozen birding enthusiasts had great fun zeroing in our targets, pointing out the special markings, and typical display behavior or telltale antics. There were ‘lifers’ for some of our 100+ visitors and birders alike and that made it a special event for all. We watched until after dusk when the last geese and ducks dropped in for the night. Our last bird of the day was a Solitary (Blue Headed) Vireo. Swamp Sitters surpassed previous years with a species count of 80. View the complete sightings list (pdf).
It was a busy day in Great Swamp with multiple events to kick off National Wildlife Refuge week. Visitors were treated to birding day for the Junior Refuge Managers program in the Wildlife Observation Center, the Big Sit, and the first of seven Sunset Walks into the managed area of the refuge.
— Karen English
Spring Migration Staffing
Despite the cold and rainy weather, spring migration staffing went very well. Almost 8000 visitors were greeted by Friends volunteers, who answered questions, gave out Boardwalk Bingo cards, and welcomed the many new visitors to the Swamp. As the season progressed there were more and more turtles, frogs and snakes for the visitors to find and the migrating birds were setting up their nests.
The Boardwalks are open dawn until dusk every day but beginning August 28 the volunteers will again be there to welcome the visitor. If you wish to be one of those volunteers, sign up to volunteer and you will be contacted.
Dedication of the Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center
The new visitor center at Great Swamp NWR was dedicated on October 2, 2010, with a ceremony commemorating Helen Fenske followed by a luncheon.
Bill Koch; Arthur Fenske; Mark Fenske, son of Helen and Art; Susan Fenske McDonough, daughter of
Helen and Art; Karl Fenske, son of Helen and Art; Anthony Leger, Chief of Refuges, USFWS Region 5.
Photo by Michael Stadelmeier
Members of the Fenske family were present for the dedication including Arthur Fenske, Helen's husband, who led the Pledge of Allegiance. Bill Koch, Manager of Great Swamp NWR, was the Master of Ceremony briefly speaking about Helen and introducing the various speakers who shared their remembrances of her. Rodney Frelingheysen gave the keynote address.
NJ Governor Tom Kean and Arthur Fenske
Photo by Steve Byland
One of the highlights was certainly when former NJ governor, Tom Kean, showed up for the event. He had been out of the country and returned to attend the dedication. Helen had worked with him in the DEP when he was governor and he shared some of his stories of her. It was a memorable day dedicated to a remarkable woman who did so much to save Great Swamp from becoming a jetport.
New Visitor Services Personnel
The Friends of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge are pleased to announce that there are two new Visitor Service personnel who will be working with the Refuge staff, Friends and visitors. Jonathan Rosenberg (left) and David Sagan joined the staff of Great Swamp NWR in early January. Jonathan is a Visitor Services Manager and Dave is a Visitor Services Specialist.
Dave is a graduate of University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Environmental Science and in Plant, Soil and Insects Science. He started with the Fish and Wildlife Service when he entered the Step program in Region 5 regional office where he worked in the planning department as an Assistant Outreach Planner. He worked with many of the Refuges in Region 5 (Maine to Virginia) in developing their Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCP). After a year and a half of working in the planning department he transferred out to the field to work as a Park Ranger at Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife located in VT, NH, MA, and CT.
At Great Swamp NWR Dave hopes to develop partnerships with schools and state watershed organizations to raise the awareness of the importance of the watershed conservation and the Great Swamp watershed. He would also like to explore possible outreach opportunities in the community to engage children and their families in the outdoors. He will assist the Refuge in the CCP process that it is currently ongoing and will generally assist in the management of the visitor center. At the Visitor Center he will greet visitors and offer interpretation of the Refuge and the Refuge system. He hopes to be able to use his experience to foster and strengthen partnership in the surrounding area and to spread the message of conservation.
Jonathan Rosenberg comes to Great Swamp NWR with a varied background. He has a degree in Parks and Recreation Administration with a Master’s in Environmental Management. He began his career at the Morris County Commission as Director of Visitor Service where he used his talents to develop programs and recreational activities. From there he spent the next 14 years as Manager of the Newark Watershed where he was involved in developing a comprehensive land use management plan. His career has taken him to work with a number of recreation and park organizations including the Department of the Defense US Navy at Lake Hurst Naval Station as a Supervisor of Recreation. His experience has given Jon the opportunity to not only develop a variety of recreation programs but also manage environmental education and interpretation programs that incorporated school systems and community groups. He has also been involved in trail management and development and has partnered with NJ State Fish and Wildlife on a number of initiatives.
With this varied background and experiences, Jon hopes to assist the Friends with programs; help to create new visitor services opportunities; and assure good communications between Refuge staff and the Friends. He also plans to work to with local communities and the Refuge staff to assure proper management of the Great Swamp watershed.
Dave and Jon look forward to working with the Friends at the Visitor Center, interacting with the public as well as to run programs. The Friends of Great Swamp NWR are very pleased that Dave and Jon have joined the staff and we look forward to working with them. Please take the opportunity to come to the Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center to meet them both.