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Outdoor Programs

Morning bird walk

Learn more about what’s happening in and around the Great Swamp Watershed region by joining us for one of our upcoming outdoor events. These programs are fun and informative for people of all ages and skill levels.

To register for a program, click the Register link below its description or visit our Event Registration page. Event dates, times, and locations are subject to change or cancellation. If an email address or phone number is provided at time of registration, GSWA will make every effort to inform pre-registered participants about scheduling changes. Updated scheduling information is also available by calling our Event Information Hotline at 973-538-3500x22.

 

Spring/Summer 2014 Outdoor Programs

Vernal Pool Exploration Hike

Friday, March 28, 6 - 8 p.m.

GSWA’s Conservation Management Area, 1 Tiger Lily Lane, Harding Township, NJ

Eight days past the equinox, spring will be in full swing throughout New Jersey’s Great Swamp. And, that means it is time for a Spring Peeper Party in the wetlands at GSWA’s 53-acre Conservation Management Area in Harding Township.

Chorus frog (genus: Pseudacris). Credit: Ari Kaufman

As temperatures rise, the forest floor will be positively hopping with new life as frogs and other amphibians crowd into shallow puddles of water to breed and lay their eggs. These puddles — better known as vernal pools — provide a perfect opportunity to learn more about Mother Nature here in New Jersey. But hurry! They dry up and disappear quickly.

Led by a professional naturalist, GSWA’s annual Vernal Pool Exploration provides a fun, outdoor learning experience for kids and adults alike. Discover the differences between a spring peeper, a chorus frog, and a wood frog. Find out how far an endangered spotted salamander will walk to find a mating pool. And, learn how much everything we have come to appreciate about the springtime depends on a few unassuming puddles of water on the forest floor.

Participation is capped at 25 people, so advanced registration is strongly recommended. Register online or call (973) 538-3500 x22. If you are not a current GSWA member, please consider making a donation in support of this event when you register. Suggested donation amounts are given below.

This program includes a short hike over level ground and the occasional boardwalk. The guide will stop at two or more vernal pool sites to look for wildlife and deliver an educational program. Families with children are encouraged to attend. Please dress for the weather. Conditions may be wet, muddy, hot, or cold. Long pants and sleeves are recommended. Waterproof footwear is essential for all participants. Flashlights are welcome, but please turn them off when asked.

Register for this event!

 

The Great Swamp Scavenger Hunt

Saturday, May 10, 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center, Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, 32 Pleasant Plains Road, Harding Township, NJ

Calling all would-be explorers, adventurers, and buccaneers! Think you know a thing or two about New Jersey’s Great Swamp? Then it’s time to test your powers of navigation and observation at the Great Swamp Scavenger Hunt.

Treasure chest

Begin the day just after 9 a.m. by visiting GSWA’s “home base” outpost at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge’s Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center at 32 Pleasant Plains Road in Harding Township, NJ. We will provide you with a route to travel, questions to answer, and a list of treasures to find throughout the 55-square mile Great Swamp Watershed region. It’s your job to navigate you own way, seek answers, and return with all your scavenged booty at the end of the day!

Hurry back to 32 Pleasant Plains Road at 4 p.m. because you will have a chance to win some special prizes. A free cookout waits for all who participate, so don’t forget your barbecue enthusiasm. Feel free to bring along a covered side-dish (to share or not). We’ll supply the burgers, dogs, and drinks!

Register for this event!

 

Close Encounters of the Leafy Kind:
Invasive Plant ID Hike

Friday, May 16, 6 - 7:30 p.m.

GSWA’s Conservation Management Area, 1 Tiger Lily Lane, Harding Township, NJ

Credit: Dendroica cerulea, flick.com/photos/Dendroica

Aliens are all around us. In fact they might even be taking over…seriously! When it comes to plants that are not from around these parts, New Jersey has more than its fair share. Can you tell the difference between a beneficial native plant and an alien invader? Few people can.

Lots of people are surprised to find out that their prized shrubs and other backyard plants are actually saboteurs in leafy disguises. Sure, they look green and healthy in spring, and some even put on a magnificent fireworks display in the fall; but, behind the seductive mask, they are really dastardly non-native invasive species capable of strangling healthy forests and exacerbating problems with clean water.

Click here to download and print an event flyer!

The truth is out there! Join Hazel England — GSWA’s very own resident alien species — to find out why non-native, invasive plants pose a threat to us. Learn how to identify them, how to control them effectively, and how to choose home-grown native plants for your home that are both beautiful to look at and attractive to desirable wildlife. GSWA’s 53-acre Conservation Management Area provides the perfect natural laboratory for observing both native and non-native invasive plants where they grow.!

Participation is capped at 30 people, so advanced registration is strongly recommended. Register online or call (973) 538-3500 x22. If you are not a current GSWA member, please consider making a donation in support of this event when you register. Suggested donation amounts appear below.

This program includes a short hike over level ground and the occasional boardwalk. Please dress for the weather. Conditions may be wet, muddy, hot, or cold. Boots or other sturdy footwear recommended. You are welcome to bring your own field guide.

Register for this event!

 

Full Strawberry Moon Hike

Saturday, June 14, 10 - 11:30 p.m.

GSWA’s Conservation Management Area, 1 Tiger Lily Lane, Harding Township, NJ

Join GSWA’s Director of Education & Outreach Hazel England for a rare late-night hike under the Full Strawberry Moon at our Conservation Management Area in Harding Township.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the name for June’s full moon was just about universal for all Algonquian-speaking people in North America. From New England to the west of Lake Superior, this was the moon that heralded the annual strawberry harvest.

The moon rises late on the 14th, so this hike will start at 10 p.m.. By then, bull frogs will be croaking away and the boardwalk across our marsh will transform into an eerie, shadowy, moonlit wonderland.

Participants should also expect a special treat for staying up past their bedtimes!

Participation is capped at 30 people, so advanced registration is strongly recommended. Register online or call (973) 538-3500 x22. If you are not a current GSWA member, please consider making a donation in support of this event when you register. Suggested donation amounts are given below.

This program includes a short hike over level ground and the occasional boardwalk. Please dress for the weather. Conditions may be wet, muddy, hot, or cold. Boots or other sturdy footwear recommended. Flashlights are welcome, but please turn them off when asked.

Register for this event!

 

Night Hike at Primrose Farm

Thursday, July 10, 8:30 - 10 p.m.

Primrose Farm, 15 Brook Drive South (approx.), Harding Township, NJ

Join GSWA as we escape the summer sun and cool down with a twilight hike through the woods and over the meadow at Primrose Farm in Harding Township.

Director of Education and Outreach Hazel England will help you get in touch with your night senses. Close your eyes and open your ears to the sounds of the living forest. Learn how to distinguish the song of a cricket from that of a grasshopper, or a cicada, or a katydid. Listen for the cry of coyotes. And, find out how moths find their way through the dark night.

Families with children are encouraged to attend!

Participation is capped at 30 people, so advanced registration is strongly recommended. Register online or call (973) 538-3500 x22. If you are not a current GSWA member, please consider making a donation in support of this event when you register. Suggested donation amounts appear below.

This program includes a short hike over uneven ground and some very gentle slopes. Please dress for the weather. Conditions may be wet, muddy, hot, or cold. Boots or other sturdy footwear recommended. Flashlights are welcome, but please turn them off when asked.

Register for this event!

 

About Events

Registration & Donation. Registration is requested for all outdoor programming. Please register for an event by clicking the registration link below the event description. Click the same link for additional event details.

In most cases, current GSWA members participate free of charge. Unless otherwise directed, nonmembers are asked to make a voluntary contribution of $10/adult and $5/child (6 to 17 years). Families of 4 or more are asked to give a contribution of $35 for the group. There is no suggested contribution amount for children ages 5 and under. Please refer to the event descriptions for any exceptions.

How To Prepare. When attending an outdoor program, please dress for the weather. Conditions may be wet, muddy, hot, or cold. Long pants and sturdy shoes or boots are strongly recommended. Feel free to bring your own water in a reusable water bottle, and your own snacks. Binoculars and field guides are welcome where conditions permit use. Flashlights are welcome at nighttime events, but please turn them off when requested by the guide.

 


Praying Mantis Blueberry

Scavenger Hunt
Download the form and hike, bike, or drive around the Great Swamp Watershed to find the plants and animals listed on the back. When you’ve found them all, send in your form and get a sur-prize!