Monday, August 2, 2010

Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge

Now that we have a car we've been getting out and exploring the Garden State a little bit. Or trying to anyway. The past few times we've made plans to go somewhere one of us gets sick or it rains or we get lost in the Plainfields or we get stuck in Holland Tunnel traffic. However, this weekend we finally made it out to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

It's hard to believe this natural wonder is only a 30-minute drive from our apartment. When most people think of New Jersey they think of industry, pollution and the city, but most of New Jersey is actually farm and coastal land. In fact, we've found that once you drive past Newark, New Jersey starts to look a lot like Virginia or Tennessee. Our quick drive to Basking Ridge took us past farms and quaint little towns with beautiful old churches and general stores. We saw lots of turn-of-the-century farm houses, horses, green houses, and the Basking Ridge/New Vernon area is absolutely gorgeous...a place I dream of living one day if we end up staying in this area.

The Great Swamp is in the middle of all of these charming little towns and is a very well-maintained park (cleanest bathrooms I've ever seen in a park), with boardwalk trails covering all the mucky parts and clear and clean forest trails for the sturdier ground.

There were many wildlife viewing structures with benches, and though I waited and waited to see Herons and Red-Wing Blackbirds the only swampy bird I saw was an Egret wading in a marsh as we drove into the park. I saw lots of birders there with expensive binoculars and camera lenses.

We did however see lots of reptiles and amphibians.

North American Water Snake:

Black Snake:

Leopard Frog:


Possible Northern variety of a Green Frog:

Slider of some sort:

Mr. S found a Cicadia shell:

Button Bush:

Not sure what these are, there were pink and white ones growing in the marshes. Marshmallow?

Seamus had a fabulous time and can't wait to go back.

But next weekend, if everyone's healthy and the weather is fine, we're heading to the Poconos.

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