Marsh Butterfly Count

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Each year there is a nation-wide survey of butterflies scheduled near July 4th.  This year the Mercer County count was held on July 8th .   The Marsh count began at 8:30 AM to beat the heat.  There were seven participants.  The route included the path around Spring Lake, as well as South River Walk Park (over tunnel) and Lamberton Road.  Among the species near Spring Lake were Silver-spotted Skipper, Monarch, Spicebush Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, Summer Azure, and Red Admiral.  Painted Lady and Sachems (Skipper) were found among the coneflowers at River Walk Park, and Lamberton Road added more than 100 Cabbage Whites and two recently-emerged Pearl Crescents.  Overall a dozen species were observed. The morning highlight, however, was avian – two Least Bitterns were observed from the Sunny Pond Bridge flying low over the north marsh, presumably feeding young.

For additional survey information see the North American Butterfly Association website:  www.naba.org.

CF Leck

10 July 2012

Photographs courtesy Jeff Worthington.

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Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh cleanups reveal litter problem

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By Mary Allessio Leck

Many came to help with the two Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh cleanups last month, some even by canoe or kayak. The March 11 cleanup was part of an AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador program, and the March 24 event was co-sponsored by the New Jersey Sierra Club-Central Jersey group and Friends for the Marsh.

We collected what seemed to be a mountain of trash — nearly 100 bags full, but also a large number of tires, six grocery carts, half of a canoe, etc.

Cleanup participants included young and old, church and school groups, Girl Scouts, as well as members of the Sierra Club, Friends for the Marsh, and the Washington Crossing Audubon Society. On April 22, for Earth Day, there will be a joint workday at Crosswicks Creek by the Sierra Club’s Water Sentinels Program and the Bordentown Yacht Club.

Trash collection at the marsh is ongoing, as litter from unthinking people continually flows into waterways via storm drains. Since September 2011, four volunteers have filled more than 200 trash bags from where the storm drain behind Lalor School enters the marsh. Other trash, found especially on Duck Island, is the result of deliberate dumping by contractors and others who don’t make the effort to dispose of waste or unwanted possessions responsibly.

Local governments and state agencies help throughout the year; staff are amiable and responsive. These include Bordentown City, Hamilton Township, Mercer County Park Commission, NJ DOT, NJ DEP and D&R Canal State Park. Storm drain catchers recently installed by Hamilton Township have reduced trash input to the marsh in some areas, but they should be installed on every storm drain.

Removing plastics from our waterways, such as the Delaware River, Crosswicks Creek and Watson’s Creek, is important. Most plastics are not biodegradable and can affect aquatic food chains and wildlife. Other materials, such as from corroded paint cans, can reduce water quality. Such negative impacts should concern us all.

What can you do if you can’t come out? Reduce your use of plastics by “refusing, reusing and recycling.” Make sure that recyclables aren’t blown about on windy days. Educate the children about the importance of waterways and wetlands. Contact your representatives and ask for regulations that require plastics and polystyrene to be biodegradable, and that construction permits require understanding lawful waste disposal.

Mary Allessio Leck is emeritus professor of biology at Rider University and program coordinator for Friends for the Marsh (abbottmarshlands.org).

Photos by Mary Iuvone for the Times of Trenton

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