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Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve

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Never the Same NERR Twice!

Written on: August 1st, 2017 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. This guest blog is from DNERR volunteer M.L. Christmas, who did an  “undercover” visit to the Great Bay NERR in New Hampshire. Enjoy! (Johanna Hripto, DNERR Assistant Education Coordinator & Blog Editor)

“Walk this way.” Just one example of the many types of animal footprints stenciled along Great Bay NERR’s new boardwalk.

A recent “stealth visit” to Great Bay NERR, in Greenland, NH, yielded some surprises. The visit was stealthy only in the sense of its being late on a June afternoon, not long before the buildings were closing; but the grounds, as at DNERR, stay open until sunset; and this being summer, we still had hours of sunlight remaining.

Our visit was unannounced to the GBNERR staff, although as a DNERR volunteer, I would have been happy to convey (again) our heartiest Delaware greetings. But we did not want to spring ourselves on them last minute, so we opted to head directly to the nature paths and see for ourselves what might have changed.

Also new: Binocular viewfinders! Step right up and enjoy the ever-changing views!

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus tells us no one steps twice into the same river, and so it is with visits to any NERR. The last time we stopped here (seeDNERR Invades Greenland (NH, That Is)”), we learned GBNERR’s staff and volunteers, in the off-season, would be replacing the boardwalk. The beautifully fresh boardwalk before us, looping through the wetlands, was not the only new experience in store.

Last time, we had left some of the Woodland Walk unexplored; so this time, apart from repeating the scenic points from our previous visit, we also made our way along the farthest reaches of that woodland path, where the damp, low‑lying areas on the trail were helpfully spanned by planks on which to step.

Sometimes the footprints are human. The moist impression on this plank would soon evaporate and leave no trace.

Whether sights we had seen before, or sights we were seeing for the first time, we were rewarded with sensory treats in every direction — from the rich smells of the forest, to the flute-like sounds of the Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), to enchanting glimpses of Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias striatus).

Think you’ve seen GBNERR, or DNERR, or any NERR, once and you’ve seen it all? Wrong! It’s never the same NERR twice, even if visiting two, three, four, or forty times.

As with everything in life, new experiences always await!


Text and photos by M.L. Christmas

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M.L. Christmas, MSM, is a freelance writer/editor living in the Dover area. She is a longtime member of Delaware Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women.

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