Winter Hiking at Former Greystone Psychiatric Park / Central Park of Morris

I felt ambitious in today’s 8°F temperatures and took a short drive in search of winter birds and outdoors adventure.  After some internal debate, I settled on the Central Park of Morris County vicinity as I thought the diversity of trees and grounds might yield cold weather wildlife sightings.

Central Park of Morris

Upland meadow in Winter.  Former Greystone Pyschiatric Park now incorporated into Central Park of Morris and falling under the jurisdiction of Morris County Park Commission. 1/6/2018 photo by Dave Blinder.

The last time I visited this area, the final remnants of the Kirkbride building of the former Greystone Psychiatric Park was still being cleared away.  No public access had been possible due to safety precautions.  Ironically I had been subdued by local police for illegal “urban decay exploration” a couple of years back, which I find humorous because all of my time is spent photographing and studying solely nature.  This incident is story for another time.

Greystone Psychiatric Park nature walk photo

Meadow and Wetlands in Winter.  Former Greystone Pyschiatric Park now incorporated into Central Park of Morris and falling under the jurisdiction of Morris County Park Commission. 1/6/2018 photo by Dave Blinder.

As you can see from my mobile photographs, the former “No Trespassing” and “Keep Out” signage has been removed from the Kirkbride grounds as well as most adjacent lands.  I did observe newly posted signs by the Morris County Park Commission alerting hunters that hunting is by explicit permit only.

Pileated Woodpecker damage hole picture

Pileated Woodpecker cavities.  Former Greystone Pyschiatric Park now incorporated into Central Park of Morris and falling under the jurisdiction of Morris County Park Commission. 1/6/2018 photo by Dave Blinder.

I only encountered a few species of wildlife on my walk which is fine with me.  Pursuing wildlife is mostly just a vehicle I drive to get me outdoors.  Today’s sightings included: Red-tailed Hawk, Dark-eyed Junco, Song Sparrow, Gray Squirrel, White-tailed Deer (big bucks).  I also saw a good deal of Red Fox and Cotton-tailed Rabbit tracks dotting the frozen landscapes.

New Jersey hiking nature picture

Uphill meadow in Winter.  Former Greystone Pyschiatric Park now incorporated into Central Park of Morris and falling under the jurisdiction of Morris County Park Commission. 1/6/2018 photo by Dave Blinder.

The former Greystone grounds could use some help combatting invasive plants such as Multiflora Rose and Barberry.  However, the wildlife habitat still looked very good to me with mature trees including Pines, Cedar, Spruce, Oaks, and other trees which I have to study up on.  Conifers in particular are of high value in our area as they make for great shelter for various hawks and owls.  Fox and deer also find good shelter and bedding at the bases of some Conifers.

In my home area, central Morris County, we do not have much acreage of intact forest due to housing developments and extensive highways.  Hence, we should conserve each remaining stand of trees and acreage of meadow to provide homes for our native New Jersey wildlife.

X-country skiing NJ

Cross-country Ski Trail in Winter. Former Greystone Pyschiatric Park now incorporated into Central Park of Morris and falling under the jurisdiction of Morris County Park Commission. 1/6/2018 photo by Dave Blinder.

After doing a bit of internet research, I found this 2017 press release by the Morris County Government. 

“The (Morris County) Freeholders, in June 2016, subsequently approved a long-term management and use agreement with the state to manage the additional 126 Greystone acres for passive recreational, conservation, historic preservation or farmland use by the Park Commission…..”

“Under terms of the management and use agreement, the state would deliver the property to the county in suitable condition for passive public outdoor recreation, such as walking, hiking, picnicking, nature watching, or for conservation purposes. The county could add active recreation uses in the future.”

Active recreation most often means organized sports or playgrounds.  Ballfields and playgrounds mean the removal of wildlife habitat and potentially degrading nearby natural lands by way of herbicides, pesticides, and erosion.  For those of us who find great value, beauty, and of course the diverse health benefits of natural area it is important that we express our opinions to our voted representatives.

Local governments have tough shoes to fill as they must balance the needs of large populations.  However, in the most respectful way possible, nature lovers should “remain voices for the voiceless” and speak up for our trees, waterways, wildlife, and health concerns.  It can never hurt to send your local elected officials an email on topics of concern.  I plan on forwarding this article to both the park commission and freeholders to congratulate them on the public opening of this land and to speak of the high value of wildlife habitat conservation.  Don’t be shy, speak up.

New Jersey wetlands picture

Watnong Brook in Winter. Former Greystone Psychiatric Park now incorporated into Central Park of Morris and falling under the jurisdiction of Morris County Park Commission. 1/6/2018 photo by Dave Blinder.

If you would like to stretch your legs and walk these peaceful trails you use Google Maps to navigate to the nearest parking area.

 

For any comments or questions on the photographs or concepts in my article please contact dave@daveblinder.com

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Upcoming Reception and Exhibit at Morris Museum

If you are available, come join the fun and celebration of local art with us for the opening of the 2017 New Jersey Highlands Juried Art Exhibit in Morristown.

NJ Fine Art Photography

Thursday, January 11th 2018 5:30PM Morris Museum 6 Normandy Heights Road Morristown, NJ 07960 Light refreshments will be provided Please RSVP by January 8, 2018 to Julia Somers at Julia@njhighlandscoalition.org

One of my favorite photos of 2017, “Kincaid Woods in Summer” will be shown along with other finalists including local paintings, photographs, and mixed media pieces.

My limited edition artwork is matted and framed to 18″x24″. I have hand numbered both the mat and the print as #1 of 25 using an archival quality Micron fine art pen. The mat and print are also hand signed.

NJ Fine Art Landscape Photography

One of my favorite photos of 2017, “Kincaid Woods in Summer” will be shown along with other finalists including local paintings, photographs, and mixed media pieces. My limited edition artwork is matted and framed to 18″x24″. I have hand numbered both the mat and the print as 1/25 using an archival quality Micron fine art pen. The mat and print are also hand signed.

Opening reception:

Thursday, January 11th 2018 5:30PM
Morris Museum
6 Normandy Heights Road
Morristown, NJ 07960

Light refreshments will be provided

Please RSVP by January 8, 2018 to Julia Somers at Julia@njhighlandscoalition.org

 

Full details of the Juried Highlands Art and Photography below

Public display dates:
January 9, 2018- February 18, 2018

Public Visiting Hours and Information

The New Jersey Highlands Coalition hosts the Highlands Festival to raise awareness about the natural resources of the NJ Highlands region.  The 5th annual Juried Highlands Art and Photography Exhibit, which coincides with this festival, will feature a selection of works featuring the landscapes, flora, fauna, natural, cultural and/or historic resources of the Highlands of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

Curated by New Jersey photographer and Coalition trustee Dwight Hiscano, juried by a panel of prominent local artists and gallery owners, and judged by Alexandra Willis, curator for the Morris Museum.

About the New Jersey Highlands Coalition:

The New Jersey Highlands Coalition hosts the Highlands Festival to raise awareness about the natural resources of the NJ Highlands region, to promote the missions of the NJ Highlands Coalition’s 80+ nonprofit member organizations, and to fund the Small Grants Program which supports local grassroots organizations.  As a nonprofit organization in Boonton, New Jersey, the New Jersey Highlands Coalition works to protect, restore, and enhance the water and other natural and cultural resources of New Jersey’s Highlands, now and for the future.

Yucatan Birds + Tamron 18-400mm

Common birds of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Photographed handheld with the new Tamron USA 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 DI-II VC HLD All-In-One Zoom.

Tropical Kingbird photographed at El Rey Ruins in Cancun.
Species info on Tropical Kingbird – https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Tropical_Kingbird/id
1/320 F/9 ISO 1600, 400mm, handheld
Tamron 18-400mm + Canon SL2
Mexico birding

Tropical Kingbird in Cancun Mexico photographed with the Tamron 18-400mm VC lens.

White-winged Dove photographed at Coral Beach in Cancun.

1/200 F/9 ISO 3200, 400mm, handheld

Tamron 18-400mm + Canon SL2
Wildlife Photography Sample

White-winged Dove in Mexico photographed with the new Tamron 18-400mm VC All-In-One Lens.

 

Order this terrific lens and camera combination through my Amazon links will help support my blog.

Tamron 18-400mm for Canon

Tamron 18-400mm for Nikon

Canon EOS Canon EOS Rebel SL2 24 Megapixel Digital SLR Camera Body Only

 

Please let me know if you have any questions about the photographs, lens, or location.

Jonathan’s Woods Red Trail to Green Trail

Located in Denville and Rockaway New Jersey, Jonathan’s Woods is owned in parts by Morris County Park Commission, as well as both townships.

Trails are maintained by Protect Our Wetlands, Water and Woods (POWWW).

New Jersey Hiking

Hiking trail at Jonathan’s Woods in Morris County NJ

Kiosk for Red Trail is located on Old Beach Glen Road in Denville.

Denville Trails

Kiosk at Jonathan’s Woods on Old Beach Glen Road

A Google Maps search for Jonathan’s Woods will get you to the main parking area. Take the Red Trail from the parking lot on Old Beach Glen Road.

New Jersey Nature

Red Trail at Jonathan’s Woods in Denville Twp

Turn Right at the Green Blaze on the old gravel road to head towards the wetlands.

NJ outdoors

Green Trail at Jonathan’s Woods county park

The Beaver Brook marsh is a great place to sit and look for wildlife or just unwind.

NJ nature photography

Beaver Brook marsh with Wildcat Ridge beyond

Wildlife watching NJ

Beaver dam at Jonathan’s Woods

Following the Green Trail will take you across seasonal stream crossings before you return to the parking lot.  You will also pass near the “Cathedral Pine” area which was largely toppled by Hurricane Sandy but has since been re-planted.

NJ hike

Seasonal wetlands on Green Trail

Pine Trees Grove NJ

Former Cathedral Pine Area devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The area has since been re-planted and is being monitored by Morris County Park Commission and POWWW.

For any info on the trails at Jonathan’s Woods contact info@powww.org

Tamron 18-400mm Full Resolution Butterfly

I took this digital photograph of an Painted Lady butterfly recently in Chester New Jersey.  Click on the picture to download or view the high resolution original.  Zoom in to view the sharpness from the new Tamron 18-400mm ultra-telephoto all-in-one lens.

Tamron 18-400mm Sharpness

Tamron 18-400mm Macro Sample Image of an Painted Lady Butterfly. Straight Out Of Camera.

The Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 DI-II VC HLD all-in-one lens was handheld in conjunction with the Canon SL2 Digital Rebel.  I am extremely impressed by the fine detail resolved in this SOOC (straight out of camera) shot.  The tiny hairs by the butterfly eyes are very well defined.  I also like the pleasing bokeh of background flowers.

100% crop from above SOOC photograph

Tamron 18-400mm macro photography

Tamron 18-400mm VC 100% Crop SOOC. Handheld at 400mm F/9 on Canon SL2. Photo by Dave Blinder

Exposure settings:

Tamron 18-400mm VC @ 400mm, Autofocus On, Vibration Compensation On

Canon SL2 in Aperture Priority Mode +2/3 exposure, AI Servo Focus

1/800 F9 ISO 800

 

Purchase the new Tamron 18-400mm from Amazon using my affiliate links  (help support my blog)

Tamron 18-400mm for Canon – http://amzn.to/2xvjzbX

Tamron 18-400mm for Nikon – http://amzn.to/2xPqXj9

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Digital SLR Camera Body Only – http://amzn.to/2xBsFU8

 

Do you have any questions about the lens, camera, or photograph?  Any more sample images you’d like to see?  Let me know.

Wildcat Ridge WMA Hawk Watch 9/23/2017

A few quick views from one of my favorite local vistas.

NJ hiking

Photographer taking a shot of NYC in the distance. Wildcat Ridge WMA Hawk Watch, September 2017, photo by Dave Blinder.

The Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area Hawk Watch also serves as an unofficial community center for nature observation and study.

NJ birding

International Hawk Week banner. Wildcat Ridge WMA Hawk Watch, September 2017, photo by Dave Blinder.

A great service to the public has been provided by Bill Gallagher and more recent NJ Fish&Wildlife Volunteers. Bill will be missed.

NJ hawk migration

Volunteer Frank Bundy tallies passing raptors. Wildcat Ridge WMA Hawk Watch, September 2017, photo by Dave Blinder.

These giving folks greet newcomers to the hawkwatch and provide birdwatching knowledge and tips to all.

Rockaway Township NJ

Visitors come to discuss migration. Wildcat Ridge WMA Hawk Watch, September 2017, photo by Dave Blinder.

The volunteers also provide raptor migration data sheets to NJF&W and other wildlife monitoring organizations.

New Jersey Nature Area

Visitors take in the panoramic view. Wildcat Ridge WMA Hawk Watch, September 2017, photo by Dave Blinder.

Visit the Wildcat Ridge WMA Hawk Watch this Fall. Parking is available at the far end of Upper Hibernia Road in Rockaway Twp NJ. Ascend the gravel road on foot 6/10 of a mile before turning for Hawk Watch access. Bring binoculars, water, and a snack.

Visit the WCR Enhancement Website for more detailed visitor information.

Patriots’ Path at Troy Meadows

A virtual tour via cell phone photographs of the Patriots’ Path within Troy Meadows Natural Area.

Morris County NJ hiking

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

The gravel parking lot is located on South Beverwyck Road in Parsippany New Jersey.

Parsippany NJ Nature

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

A wooden kiosk in the parking area lets visitors know they have arrived at Troy Meadows Natural Area.

New Jersey State Natural Area

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

The blue blaze travels beyond a wooden gate from the parking area.

New Jersey outdoor photography

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

A small amount of fine gravel lines this part of Patriots’ Path.

NJ Nature Preserve

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

After turning right, the trail is now following a gas pipeline.

Utility easement

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

A few flowers dot the edge of the gas pipeline.

New Jersey birding

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

Patriots’ Path turns left and diverts from the gas pipeline.

NJ Nature Photography

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

The trail now runs along tall high tension electrical lines.  Red-tailed Hawks often sit atop these towers.

Power lines hiking NJ

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

Looking at the electrical towers. By following these, one gets nearer to the center of the marsh at Troy Meadows. I head that way in winter to view Northern Harriers.

BLU Life One X2 HDR Photography

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

Patriots’ Path now heads into a wooded area and will lead out by Troy Road near the border of Hanover Township not far from East Hanover.

New Jersey Woods

Virtual Tour of Patriots Path at Troy Meadows. Photos and words by Dave Blinder.

I turned around and called it a day because the sun was setting. There is much more of Troy Meadows to explore.

All photos taken on my Blu Life One X2 cell phone with the camera set to HDR mode.  Click above to purchase from my Amazon affiliate link. For ~$200 this 1.4ghz processor and 16 megapixel camera were a good value to me. I have been relying on this unlocked cellular phone for months.

Any questions on Troy Meadows, this trail, or the photographs? Just ask.

Hawk Watch with Pete Dunne

Hawk Watch with Pete Dunne at New Jersey Audubon’s Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary​.  September 16, 2017.

I stopped over in Bernardsville on Saturday morning for a couple of hours to join in on the festivities. Hawkwatching is always a great reason to get outside, but having New Jersey’s most accomplished birding author Pete Dunne around is also a recipe for a good time.

Thanks also to Eric Stiles, Mike Anderson, Susan Garretson Friedman, and the other New Jersey Audubon​ staff behind the scenes who made all visitors feel welcome to this great free event.  Click on the thumbnails below to view larger photographs.

 

More details on the event in the Daily Record, write-up by Peggy Wright – http://www.dailyrecord.com/story/news/2017/09/16/eagle-eyed-watch-skies-hawk-migration/657970001/

Tamron 18-400mm Di II VC HLD does birds in flight

An unexpected recent handheld shot that worked out well for me.  I was outdoors photographing scenery and was fortunate to have the versatile Tamron 18-400mm Di II VC lens mounted to capture this Great Egret in flight.  The fine detail looks very good to me.

DaveBlinder GreatEgret Tamron 18400mm IMG_1601crop

Exposure details:

Tamron 18-400mm VC + Canon SL2 handheld

1/3200 F/8.0 IS 400

-1/3 in Aperture Priority exposure mode

AI Servo autofocus

Raw image quality

For a closer look at this image, please download the uncropped full-resolution image from my Google Drive account.

Tamron 18-400mm high resolution pictures

Full resolution sample images from Tamron USA‘s​ 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD Model B028 ultra-telephoto all-in-one zoom lens

These are SOOC ( straight out of the camera ) JPEGs with no editing performed. Both shots are with the lens at full zoom, 400mm, at maximum aperture F/6.3 and taken on a 24mp SL2.

Tamron 18-400mm lens sample picture

Full Resolution SOOC sample image from the Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD Model B028 ultra-telephoto all-in-one zoom lens. Taken on a 24 megapixel Canon SL2 by Dave Blinder. Order via my Amazon affiliate link – http://amzn.to/2eMYfUO Nikon Mount

Flower photograph camera settings:

Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD Model B028

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 DSLR camera

Handheld with VC On (Vibration Control) at 400mm

1/640 F/6.3 ISO 400 using the Center Point One-Shot Autofocus and Auto White Balance

Tamron 18-400mm lens sample picture

Full Resolution SOOC sample image from the Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD Model B028 ultra-telephoto all-in-one zoom lens. Taken on a 24 megapixel Canon SL2 by Dave Blinder. Order via my Amazon affiliate link – http://amzn.to/2eMYfUO Nikon Mount

Bee photograph camera settings:

Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD Model B028

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 DSLR camera

Tripod-mounted VC Off (Vibration Control) at 400mm

1/60 F/6.3 ISO 800 using Manual Focus and Auto White Balance

 

Due to possible compression you may want to download the full pictures from my personal Google Drive – https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwfEzS2JEk2EbTVRR01oTEwxaTQ

To order these lenses now try my Amazon Affiliate links (gives me a small commission):

http://amzn.to/2xle2W3
Canon Mount

http://amzn.to/2eMYfUO
Nikon Mount