Rahway River Watershed Association with help from National Biodiversity Parks organized a public field trip to the 433- acre, Ash Brook Reservation, Scotch Plains, NJ on 4/29/2017.
We recorded approximately 61 species, most of them in the targeted taxa, during this short trip: Taxa – Insects, Herptiles and Birds. Thanks to all the participants and the hard working President and Program Manager of the RRWA, Marian and Clea.
Highlights included Six-spotted Green Tiger Beetle, Red Carpenter Ant, Spring Peeper, Box Turtle, Wild Turkey, Great Blue Heron, Wood Duck, Pileated Woodpecker and Northern Waterthush and Parula.
|Great Blue Heron|
The Ash Brook is a small low-lying area surrounded by residential development in Scotch Plains, NJ, Union County. As run off has increased due to continued human development there has been a successional expansion of the central, open canopied wetland, accompanied by an increase in dead and dying trees. The relative young forest has become seasonally flooded favoring obligate or faculative, wetland tree species.
These conditions have produced the greatest concentration of standing dead wood in the county; it is the woodpecker and cavity nesting capital of the watershed. Subsequently over one third of the bird species recorded on this day were cavity nesters, ranging from Tree Swallows, Black-capped Chickadees, Hairy Woodpeckers, Pileated Woodpeckers to Great Crested Flycatchers.
|Eastern Painted Turtle|
Jeff Jotz and Fred Virrazzi also started to expand our research focus on turtles of the watershed with needed help from PSEG. Together we designed, built and tested 3 traps catching our first turtle, a common Painted Turtle, after a 40 hour set. Rains caused us to place the traps in suboptimal areas.
|PSEG Constructed Needed Traps for NBP Research|
We plan on scientifically sampling various freshwater habitats to confirm target species presence and then research and propose needed management actions. There are a few species of state listed Endangered , Threatened and Special Concern turtles that have historical records at Ash Brook and within the Rahway River Watershed. We are cautiously hopeful that at least one of the following species will be “rediscovered”– Wood Turtle, Spotted Turtle or Bog Turtle.
We also plan to continue our decades long study of the Diamondback Terrapin on the lower Rahway River. Recently our zoologist shed some light on why there were so few, large, mature females being found during multiple, comprehensive surveys on the river. Approximately 28 large females (photographed) were finally found basking at one location in a secluded part of the river.
On this day at Ash Brook we hiked a northern trail through mostly, forested wetland habitat bordered by dead trees. We gradually recorded the following species.
|Six-spotted Green Tiger Beetle|
Here is preliminary list of species/taxa found:
Invertebrates: 19 species
European Woodlouse Porcello scaber
Common Woodlouse Oniscus asellus
Stone Centipede Lithobiidae sp
Deer Tick Ixodes scapularis
Wood Tick Dermacentor variabilis
Red Velvet Mite Trombidium sp
Red Carpenter Ant Camponotus chromaides
Black Carpenter Ant Camponotus pennsylvanicus
Herptiles: 5 species
Birds: 35 species
Double-crested Cormorant (22) overhead
Great Blue Heron (1) (Special Concern species)
Hairy Woodpecker (2)
Downy Woodpecker (2)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (4)
Northern Flicker (1)
Pileated Woodpecker (1) perhaps 2
Great Crested Flycatcher
Yellow-rumped Warbler (3)
American Redstart (1)
Northern Parula (2)
Common Yellowthroat (6)
Northern Waterthrush (5)