Recommendations for New Jersey Mammal Watching?
Hi, I live in New Jersey and my dad and I have come up with a “New Jersey Big 5” that we are going to see if we can spot at parks and forests. Our big five are: Beaver, Otter, Porcupine, Black Bear and Bobcat.
If anyone has any recommendations as to where I can find these animals (not necessarily all in the same place), I would greatly appreciate it. Even though it’s a New Jersey big five I am willing to travel to New York if that makes spotting the animals easier.
NY is presumably better for Fisher than NJ. They are widespread in the state, and almost anywhere with good habitat should have them (though it’s not a requirement – one was famously photographed on a sidewalk in the Bronx). I would check the Adirondacks at the Catskills. I missed one by five minutes at a bird feeder near Tupper Lake, NY before I became serious about mammal-watching. Since then, I’ve spent many hours looking for one without success.
Get the little book called Wildlife Viewing in New Jersey, published by Falcon Press.
I am working on a detailed manual for mammalwatching in New Jersey, but it will only be ready by the end of June 🙂 I’d send you the draft, but I am in Alaska now and don’t have it with me.
Not on your list, but in case: I saw a mink running across one of the roads bordering the Great Swamp…I did not record the actual site, but they are known to be in the area. I saw it at night, but they are out by day at times. There are beaver in the Delaware River, near the GAP, but I do not have specific sites. Enjoy.
I often see mink during the day in the Great Swamp in Patterson NY (not to be confused with the great swamp in NJ), but you will need a kayak. I also see beaver there occasionally. I have also been getting Fisher on my camera traps in Westchester and Rockland NY, but only occasionally and I have yet to see one in the flesh.
I see Vladimir has seen a few bears in NJ recently (or so his Facebook page shows) so he should have some good advice on that one when he gets back from Alaksa. I have seen a Porcupine in the Catskills …. but have hardly done anything in NJ I’m afraid.
Fishers …. Pine Barrens Nature Reserve in Albany is reputed to be a good spot. They are camera trapped there quite frequently and the biologists I talked to told me that is has a rather high density of Fishers. And that they are more common in semi urban areas, like Pine Barrens, than in deep forest. That said I visited three times and didn’t see one.
They are occasionally reported by birders – both at feeders and on birding reports – so you could sign up for some of their list serves. The Connecticut one for example. I posted an RFI a year ago there and they were super helpful and I got a few suggestions.
Star-nosed Mole – you could try the Trustom Pond in Rhode Island https://www.mammalwatching.com/places/rhode-island/ See Adam Walleyn’s report about his visit there
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Old Mine Road is good for all of your targets, though I myself have only seen Bear there. AFAIK, it is the only site in NJ with semi-regular Bobcat sightings. Porcupine is apparently easy to see in the fall, in the crowns of deciduous trees.
You might also want to try Great Swamp NWR for Otter. Ask the rangers about recent sightings.
I saw Beaver a several times along the towpath in Princeton, but always at night. It’s also a good site for Southern Flying Squirrel.
If I still lived in NJ, I’d be looking for the “small 3:” Star-nosed Mole, Fisher (my nemesis), and Northern Flying Squirrel.