DNERR logo
DNERR Blog


Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve


      

Varieties of Experience, Lost & Found

Written on: January 15th, 2016 in Education & OutreachGuest BlogUncategorized

To add variety to the blog and to offer a fresh perspective from our visitors, we are inviting guest bloggers to write posts describing their visits and thoughts while at the Reserve.  The guest blog is brought to you by M.L. Christmas.  Enjoy! (Maggie Pletta, DNERR Education Coordinator & Blog Editor)

Photo Credit M.L. Christmas

Photo Credit M.L. Christmas

Varieties of Experience, Lost & Found

My childhood résumé would have looked something like this: Backyard explorer, cloud & insect inspector, tree climber, rock hunter, and advanced mud-pie maker.

In adulthood, although belying the variety of worthwhile advances it represented, my résumé had become: morning & afternoon commuter, punctuality maintainer, office worker, and grocery shopper.

At what point had the scenery shifted? At what moment did the smoothness of the moss under my feet, or the roughness of the bark under my hands as I pulled myself into the upper branches of my favorite climbing-tree, become a type of contact only to be had through the tip of a pen moving across paper or through fingertips pressing on a computer keyboard? At what point had the experience of nature become…not directly experiential?

The societal expectation for transformation from carefree child to tax-paying adult is insufficient excuse when there is a whole, big world out there beyond our doorsills. When was the last time I was up a tree? Or found an interesting pebble? Or reveled in the gooey glory of mud “dough” well mooshed?

There is something to be said for having an uncluttered focus–and by that I do not mean having a tidied and vacuumed car. Henry David Thoreau exhorted us all to “Simplify, simplify!” I would encourage us to do the same. The clouds and the dragonflies will become more readily seen–and will be right back on one’s résumé.

Photo & text by M. L. Christmas

M.L. Christmas, MSM, is a freelance writer/editor living in the Dover area. She has written dozens of articles for newsletters, newspapers, magazines, and websites. Her work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications and other venues, and she has written in tones ranging from scholarly to humorous, depending on the audience. She is a longtime member of Delaware Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women. Her approach to nature writing, she says, is part Henry David Thoreau and part Dave Barry.

 

DNERR Brings You the Weather

Written on: December 7th, 2015 in Blackbird Creek ReserveGuest BlogNERRResearchSt. Jones Reserve

To add variety to the blog and to offer a fresh perspective from our visitors, we are inviting guest bloggers to write posts describing their visits and thoughts while at the Reserve.  The guest blog is brought to you by M.L. Christmas about her recent experience on the boardwalk at the St. Jones Reserve.  Enjoy! (Maggie Pletta, DNERR Education Coordinator & Blog Editor)

DNERR Brings You the Weather

The St. Jones Reserve Weather Station

The St. Jones Reserve Weather Station

The St. Jones Reserve Trail Guide is more than just a trail guide. The title makes one think “route map.” There is an aerial view or two in the booklet, but that’s that for that. No, the St. Jones Reserve Trail Guide is more about briefly describing what is going on alongside the trail–not to mention underneath and up above.

The Trail Guide highlights some of the flora and fauna customarily found at the Reserve. Those things can be pretty much depended upon and reasonably expected. What cannot always be so easy to know and to predict is the weather, and that’s where DNERR’s connection with the Delaware Environmental Observing System comes in.

The weather conditions at the St. Jones and Blackbird Creek Reserves can even be viewed from the comfort of one’s own home. Drilling down from the link provided in the booklet, one sees, at www.deos.udel.edu, the updates from the reporting stations (Network: “DEOS.” Station: Either “Kitts Hummock — DE-NERR” or “Blackbird — DE-NERR”).

Credit M.L. Christmas_BlogPost9 (1)The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve always has something going on, just for you–including the weather!

Text & photos by M. L. Christmas

M.L. Christmas, MSM, is a freelance writer/editor living in the Dover area. She has written dozens of articles for newsletters, newspapers, magazines, and websites. Her work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications and other venues, and she has written in tones ranging from scholarly to humorous, depending on the audience. She is a longtime member of Delaware Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women. Her approach to nature writing, she says, is part Henry David Thoreau and part Dave Barry.

 

Note from the Editor:  The weather data collected at our stations is part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP), which also includes the collection of water quality data.  All the SWMP data can be viewed by visiting the NERR Centralized Data Management Office’s page, and if you want to get more in depth with the data try out our SWMP Graphing Tool for teachers. 

DNERR Invades Greenland–NH, That Is!

Written on: November 5th, 2015 in Education & OutreachGuest BlogNERRVolunteers

To add variety to the blog and to offer a fresh perspective from our visitors, we are inviting guest bloggers to write posts describing their visits and thoughts while at the reserve.  The guest blog is brought to you by M.L. Christmas and her recent experience visiting one of our sister Reserves.  Enjoy! (Maggie Pletta, DNERR Education Coordinator & Blog Editor)

 

DNERR Invades Greenland–NH, That Is! 

We made it to GBNERR! (Note the DNERR-logo t-shirt worn for the occasion.)

We made it to GBNERR! (Note the DNERR-logo t-shirt worn for the occasion.)

While on vacation, it is always nice to go where like-minded people gather. This DNERR volunteer, while recently staying in the Seacoast New Hampshire area, decided to pay a visit one morning, in the company of some other family members, to the Great Bay NERR in Greenland. Our party, on getting out of the car, was greeted by the distinctive drumming of a Pileated Woodpecker. A most auspicious start! We were also greeted with the view of a number of empty school buses already in the parking lot. (Like DNERR, like GBNERR!)

The Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center

The Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center

By arrangement, I sought out Kelle Loughlin, Director of the Great Bay Discovery Center and also their Education Coordinator, making her “the Maggie Pletta of GBNERR.” Though many things were going on that morning, including a visit by the aforementioned groups of students, she greeted us warmly and also took the time to introduce us to other staffers in the office. Also in the office at that time, and introduced to us, was Peter Wellenberger, Executive Director of the Great Bay Stewards, which is GBNERR’s “friends” organization. Kelle then graciously gave our party a tour of the Reserve’s facilities.

Kelle made special note of the many “green” efforts at GBNERR, which had as their inspiration the Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center located next-door to the Discovery Center. She cited such on-site green initiatives as: composting toilets; rain barrels; porous-pavement parking-lots; geothermal heating and cooling; and solar-metal roofs.

Geothermal waterfall and stream between the Discovery Center and the Coastal Conservation Center

Geothermal waterfall and stream between the Discovery Center and the Coastal Conservation Center

As she led the way from the Discovery Center to the Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center, she pointed out, between the two buildings, a beautifully landscaped waterfall and stream. She explained they are fed by the geothermal well and operate on a circulating system.

We were shown the Coastal Conservation Center’s main space for programs, and we were also guided to the lower floor of the building, which houses their Special Collections. The collections are comprised of exhibits on the history of local hunting, fishing, and trapping. Kelle also opened and showed to us the Great Bay Country Store, a teaching-space for lessons about where food and other products come from, and how they are distributed, using the inventory of an old-time general store as its theme.

"The NERR Miss"

“The NERR Miss”

Back outside, we found ourselves standing between a replica Gundalow (a New England cargo vessel of the 19th century) and a more modern boat cleverly named “The NERR Miss,” both now on land for visitor exploration. While we stood there, gazing about, we were told GBNERR’s boardwalk is being replaced, beginning this fall, a major effort made possible by significant grant-funding and fundraising.

After having spent the time with us, Kelle graciously excused herself to return to the Discovery Center to resume her day’s scheduled duties, but not before she pointed our party in the direction of that soon-to-be-replaced boardwalk (to our left) and the path to the beach on Great Bay (to our right). Standing at the base of that Y, with decisions to make, we were feeling overwhelmed…but in a good way!

 

One of many scenic views glimpsed from the boardwalk at GBNERR

One of many scenic views glimpsed from the boardwalk at GBNERR

We wandered out-and-back along the boardwalk (sometimes against the incoming and outgoing waves of school children and their instructors), then meandered along the path to the beach (with its rack of canoes and kayaks, and a group of visitors swarming about the boat shed), then returned to the Discovery Center and picked up an assortment of informative, freebie publications about GBNERR and other outdoors activities in New Hampshire, after which we perambulated outside for a little while longer. We inhaled the bay-water-and-forest-scented air and could easily imagine ourselves spending many more hours there, but the rest of our day’s agenda called. We reluctantly made our way to leave.

Gazing into the “eye” of a “fern vortex” at GBNERR

Gazing into the “eye” of a “fern vortex” at GBNERR

 

 

When pausing along the boardwalk, I happened to look down and found myself gazing into the dizzying, hypnotic “eye” of a “fern vortex.” The enchantment of the encounter was delightful, but I did not need any further persuading in order to reach this conclusion: Whether you are traveling in Delaware, New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio, Florida, or beyond, the National Estuarine Research Reserve system is there. Be sure to include a NERR as part of your next vacation! You might see some familiar sights as well as gain some fresh, new ones.

 

 

 

Text and photos by M.L. Christmas

M.L. Christmas, MSM, is a freelance writer/editor living in the Dover area. She has written dozens of articles for newsletters, newspapers, magazines, and websites. Her work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications and other venues, and she has written in tones ranging from scholarly to humorous, depending on the audience. She is a longtime member of Delaware Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women. Her approach to nature writing, she says, is part Henry David Thoreau and part Dave Barry.

 

* * * * * * *

 

For more information about GBNERR: <http://www.nerrs.noaa.gov/reserves/great-bay.html>, <http://greatbay.org/>, and <http://www.greatbaystewards.org/>

DNERR Volunteers Go “Back to School”

Written on: September 14th, 2015 in Education & OutreachGuest BlogResearchSt. Jones ReserveVolunteers

To add variety to the blog and to offer a fresh perspective from our visitors, we are inviting guest bloggers to write posts describing their visits and thoughts while at the reserve.  The guest blog is brought to you by M.L. Christmas and her recent experience attending our annual volunteer recognition event.  Enjoy! (Maggie Pletta, DNERR Education Coordinator & Blog Editor)

DNERR Volunteers Go “Back to School”

Photo Credit Britani Chambers, DNERR

Photo Credit Britani Chambers, DNERR

On DNERR’s recent Volunteer Appreciation Night, several dozen of us gathered to humbly receive our DNERR-logo t-shirts and official certificates of appreciation; participate in some lighthearted games; hear the insights of the outgoing interns who were returning to their respective institutions of higher learning; chat and banter with each other over crudité, meat and cheese trays, fruit and dessert trays, and other light refreshments; and just generally bask in the glow of being DNERR volunteers.

Volunteering for DNERR provides a great way to give back to the community and is its own reward. But some of that positive energy may return to the volunteer, even beyond the t-shirt and the recognition certificate. During the six months, or so, that I have been guest-blogging for DNERR, already that effort, freely given, has “repaid” me in unexpected life-lessons:

You might not think that last one is much of an accomplishment, but I beg to differ.

On Volunteer Appreciation Night, for one portion of the evening we were led into DNERR’s research laboratory for an exercise that was part craft and part quiz show about estuarine flora and fauna. Each of the lab’s workstations was outfitted with a small pile of goodies: school glue, construction paper, pipe cleaners, small bundles of raffia, animal stickers, paper plates, etc. The supplies were not for an incoming grade-school field-trip (although the exercise being demonstrated was ultimately for that purpose). The materials were for us. The adults. To use right then. Talk about feeling helpless! Am I smarter than a 5th grader? Debatable. But at that moment, a kindergartener could have run rings around me. Very artistic rings, mind you.

One thing I have learned in life is that if you are bad at something, making a joke about it will usually cover the worst of its shortcomings. So here is a little joke told at my own expense. I challenge you to identify the pipe-cleaner-constructed object to which I am pointing. Hint: It’s precariously perched and seemingly on the verge of falling over into the raffia “marsh grass.” A further hint? It has walls but yet is open and airy. Final hint: It’s near the St. Jones Reserve. Got it? No? Answer: It’s Kingston-Upon-Hull, of course! Hee hee! Utter silliness! And while you were busy chuckling, you weren’t noticing the lack of decorative technique displayed on my paper plate. Perhaps if I had spent more time, in my formative years, using school paste for its intended purpose instead of eating it….

Had not thought about this before that night at DNERR, but one’s inner child is the other volunteer who’s volunteering when one volunteers to volunteer. That is why one should always keep that school-student can-do attitude. So, on Volunteer Appreciation Night, while DNERR’s college interns were returning to school, the rest of the volunteers were also going “back to school” by being challenged with basic craft supplies.

That is one of the fun aspects of volunteering at DNERR: You never know what will happen next! In the process, you just might (re)discover your inner child. Pass the paste, please!

Photo by Britani Chambers, DNERR
Text by M.L. Christmas

M.L. Christmas, MSM, is a freelance writer/editor living in the Dover area. She has written dozens of articles for newsletters, newspapers, magazines, and websites. Her work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications and other venues, and she has written in tones ranging from scholarly to humorous, depending on the audience. She is a longtime member of Delaware Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women. Her approach to nature writing, she says, is part Henry David Thoreau and part Dave Barry.

GO TERPS! (Follow that Turkey!)

Written on: August 27th, 2015 in Guest BlogSt. Jones Reserve

To add variety to the blog and to offer a fresh perspective from our visitors, we are inviting guest bloggers to write posts describing their visits and thoughts while at the reserve.  The guest blog and photos today are brought to you by M.L. Christmas and her recent adventures to the Reserve and Ted Harvey Wildlife Area.  Enjoy! (Maggie Pletta, DNERR Education Coordinator & Blog Editor)

GO TERPS! (Follow That Turkey!)

Photo Credit M.L. Christmas

Photo Credit M.L. Christmas

If ever one needed a good reason to drive carefully while at DNERR and its environs, here is living proof: my experience this week when paying a special visit to the St. Jones Reserve and the adjoining Ted Harvey Conservation Area. The object of my visit had been to take photos of a field of sunflowers I’d heard were blooming near Kingston-Upon-Hull, the latter structure an occasional destination for the Reserve’s Nature Walks. I was successful in photographing both, and descriptions of the sunflowers, and of that deteriorating historic home, will be given in future blog posts.

Back to the matter at hand: first, the sighting of a lovely, little turtle, at about 3-3½” long, near the middle of the road and headed to the other side. In fact, a beat or two had passed, while driving, before the thought had registered: “Was that a turtle?” I reversed the car very cautiously in order to check. No other vehicles were coming along that stretch, so I got down on my knees and elbows, right in the gravel of the roadbed, the rocks and grit digging into my forearms, in order to have the polite and proper face-to-face view. That also put my face below the looming perspective of my car tires. I shuddered at the realization that a grievous catastrophe had been avoided, on my first pass, by mere inches. So unobtrusive was my slow-moving friend that s/he nearly blended in with the rest of the random, rocky, seemingly inanimate shapes in the road.

Photo Credit M.L. Christmas

Photo Credit M.L. Christmas

Photo Credit M.L. Christmas

Photo Credit M.L. Christmas

Back in the car, and continuing slowly on my way, only a short distance farther along, a Wild Turkey ran across the road, headed in the same direction the turtle had gone! Wow! We were aware turkeys have been re-introduced in Delaware, and we caught a glimpse of one in rural Maryland in the last few years. The turkey was a stunning sight on top of what had already been a stunning sight. I haven’t seen a turtle in the wild, in Delaware, in years. And the Wild Turkey? For me, in Delaware, that was a first. The head was an impressive blue-gray blur as (he? she?) crossed the road at a run.

This encounter gave me a greater appreciation for just how big Wild Turkeys are. I have seen them before, mostly in the Midwest, but only from a greater distance, and certainly not at eyeball- and road-level from the driver’s seat. Needless to say, s/he was well out of view from the car by the time I rolled the short distance forward and came alongside where s/he had darted into the woods.

Once home, a quick Internet search revealed the fact that Delaware is home to over a dozen turtle species, including Diamondback Terrapins, Bog Turtles, Eastern Box Turtles, Musk Turtles, and of course the infamous Snapping Turtle. I’m not sure what species that carapaced pedestrian was, but thankfully for me, the tip of my nose still being intact, I can attest s/he was not a young Snapper out for a stroll.

As for the Wild Turkeys, a July 1, 2015, DNREC press release says it all. Reintroductions in lower Delaware were made from 1984 into the 1990s, and “Delaware has a healthy statewide population estimated at 6,000 birds.”

My breathless e-mail to Maggie Pletta, DNERR’s Education Coordinator, received a reply confirming DNERR is indeed home to various turtles and Wild Turkeys, in addition to the customary birds and fish and fiddler crabs.

The things one sees when one least expects them! So, when visiting at DNERR, or at the Ted Harvey Conservation Area, be sure to stay alert and to share the road! Watch out for terps and turkeys! And if you see any Wild Turkeys, please report your counts to DNREC Fish & Wildlife, per the information given in their press release.

Text and photos by M.L. Christmas

M.L. Christmas, MSM, is a freelance writer/editor living in the Dover area. She has written dozens of articles for newsletters, newspapers, magazines, and websites. Her work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications and other venues, and she has written in tones ranging from scholarly to humorous, depending on the audience. She is a longtime member of Delaware Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women. Her approach to nature writing, she says, is part Henry David Thoreau and part Dave Barry.




Navigation



Adjust Your Font Size


Make Text Size Smaler Reset Text Size Make Text Size Bigger




+