Full information about Homeshool and Fledgling (preschool) programs can be found in the tabbed pages just above this post.

March 11, 2009

April Programs

Vernal Ponds at High Point
Saturday, April 4 from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Saturday, April 18 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM

Adults/Children ages 8 and up. Registration is required. Please call 973-875-1471 or email highpointprograms@gmail.com. Vernal ponds, unique, temporary wetlands, are the breeding grounds for a number of amphibians and other species. Join us for a short introduction to these ponds in the Interpretive Center, and then travel to a handful of High Point’s vernal ponds for a first-hand look. This program will include both walking (a mile or less) and driving (approx. five miles). We will also be walking off-trail, so sturdy shoes are recommended.

Moonrise Walk
Thursday, April 9 from 6:30 PM to 8:45 PM
Adults/Children ages 10 and up. Registration is required. Please call 973-875-1471 or email highpointprograms@gmail.com. Come hike a 1-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail to an observation platform where we’ll watch the full moon rise in the eastern sky. This hike is moderately strenuous with some steep portions and a rocky, uneven trail surface. Sturdy shoes are recommended. We will return to our cars by moonlight via an easier route.

Beaver Walk
Tuesday, April 14 from 10 AM to 12 PM
Families w/children ages 5 and up. Registration is not required. Meet at the Sawmill Lake Boat Launch. Come take a walk around Sawmill Lake (about 2 miles) to see lodges and other signs of beaver activity.

Beaver Movie and Craft
Tuesday, April 14 from 1 PM to 2:30 PM
Families w/children ages 5 and up. Registration is not required. Meet at the Interpretive Center. Watch a movie about beavers that will show you a side of the beaver’s life that you can’t see standing by a lake, then make a 3-D beaver habitat picture to take home.

Late Afternoon Canoe/Kayak Tour

Saturday, April 25 from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM
Registration is required. Please call 973-875-1471 or email highpointprograms@gmail.com. Come take a leisurely, naturalist-guided paddle around Lake Steenykill. Bring your own non-motorized boats.

March 7, 2009

The Arrival of Spring - update 3/30

After a long and icy winter, spring is slowly arriving at High Point State Park. In this post I’ll keep track of some of these seasonal changes as I observe them. Feel free to add any of your own sightings as a comment.

2/21/09 - Spotted a skunk cabbage flower coming up along the stream on the old road to Lake Rutherford during the fourth Nature in Winter walk.

The mottled purple and green hood of the skunk cabbage flower doesn’t really look like a flower at all, but it is generally the first flower of spring, often sprouting before the snow melts. It generates its own heat and can maintain a temperature of around 70 degrees as long as the air temperature remains above freezing.

2/26/09 – Porcupine was feeding in the upper branches of an Eastern hemlock near the entrance to the Blue Dot trail at Sawmill Lake. Judging by the debris on the ground, that porcupine had been feeding in that tree and the surrounding hemlocks for the better part of the winter.

3/5/09 - Bear tracks criss-crossed the Mashipacong Trail between Sawmill and Park Ridge Roads.

3/5/09 - Heard woodcocks “peenting” in the meadows along Sawmill Road at dusk. The mating dance of the American woodcock (or timberdoodle) is one of the great spectacles of March. If you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, join us on one of our Timberdoodle Treks.

3/6/09 – A turkey vulture spent the morning perching on the Interpretive Center chimney. (This is not really a seasonal observation, but it was somewhat disconcerting to see him looming up there.)

3/7/09 - Bluebird flew across Route 23 near the north end of Lake Steenykill.

3/11/09 - Snow is pretty much gone. The ice is beginning to recede from the edges of the lakes.

3/14/09 - All about waterfowl....only a film of ice remains on High Point's lakes, and spring migratory ducks have begun to arrive. The ubiquitous mallards are on Lake Marcia, and the ring-necked ducks have started to trickle in. (I don't know why they're called ring-necks as there is no noticeable ring around their necks. There is around their bill though. Go figure.) A few of my all time favorite ducks have also appeared: hooded mergansers. (Click the link and you'll see why...stunning!) All week long I've been hearing and seeing skeins of geese honking their way northwards. I also heard the cheerful "conk-a-ree" call of a red-wing blackbird by Steenykill Lake.

3/18/09 - A mature bald eagle was hanging out at Red Barn Pond (near the intersection of Sawmill Road and the Deckertown Tpk.) There was also a great blue heron there. On the way down Route 23, I spotted a pair of tundra swans on Steenykill Lake.

3/21/09 - Although it was on the chilly side, the Timberdoodle Trek was a success. Several timberdoodles/woodcocks "peented" for us and one even landed within a few feet of where we sat, giving us an up-close look and listen. Thanks to those who joined me, for a fun evening!

3/27/09 - While I've been hearing the occasional peep of a spring peeper for a week or two, they started peeping in full voice today! I also heard the "quacks" of the wood frogs for the first time today. If you're interested in learning more about these frogs and other inhabitants of vernal ponds, come join us for one of the vernal pond programs on April 4th or 18th. Also, a mourning cloak butterfly fluttered past the Park Office in late afternoon today. While most butterflies overwinter as eggs or pupae, mourning cloaks are unusual because they overwinter as adults and emerge just as soon as the temperatures warm.