Friday, May 6, 2011

Another Trip to the Great Swamp

Awhile back we visited what has quickly become our favorite little spot in New Jersey. The Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge is only a thirty minute drive from our home, but it feels like a world away from any city landscape. It's quiet and lush and green. And I imagine, though I've never been there at night, that you can actually see the stars. I miss stars. We have so much light pollution from the city that we rarely see them in our town. We love the swamp so much we could spend every weekend there. We even talked about volunteering to help maintain the trails.

It was a perfect spring day when we took our spur-of-the-moment trip to the swamp. 70 degrees and sunny. It turned out to be a great day for birdwatching and turtle spotting too. The Red Wing Blackbirds were back and breeding; we could hear their calls from every trail of the park. Mr. S spotted a dainty little goldfind right away, and we saw another right as we were leaving. We also saw Juncos and, with our binoculars, a Bald Eagle.

With all these birds I rarely see in Bayonne, I was surprised to see a couple of geese right there in the middle of the murkiest swamp water.

We also saw two giant snapping turtles, one of which was right off the trail, and several spotted turtles. We've yet to see the endangered Bog Turtle this refuge is famous for. Amid all the turltes we also saw quite a few frogs, and though we never spotted them, we heard the strange moan of bullfrogs croaking several times.

And everthing was in bloom.

Seamus saw his first inch worm:

It was a perfect day for the Gwyns because after hiking around for three hours we found the best little Mexican restaurant on the way home, just a couple miles outside of the swamp. Family road trips are the best!

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