Hike by (Blue) Moonlight on Friday Night
Great Swamp Watershed Association-led event begins at 7 p.m.
An opportunity to experience at night part of the 36,000-acre Great Swamp Watershed—which runs through Morris and Somerset counties—happens only once in a blue moon.
That blue moon returns to the sky Friday night, as the Great Swamp Watershed Association, led by environmental educator Hazel England, leads a twilight tour through 53 acres of forest and marsh in the GSWA's "Conservation Management Area" in Harding Township starting at 7 p.m.
Steven F. Reynolds, director of communications and membership for the Great Swamp Watershed Association, notes the moon is not necessarily blue during a "blue moon."
"It has very little to do with actual color, and more to do with seasons and the solar calendar," he said. "The phrase is, in essence, part of a folk taxonomy."
The swamp is fully accessible to the public but, Reynolds said, "a lot of people don't get to see [it] at night.
"A lot of people may think it's dangerous or spooky," he said. "This is a safe way to go out and experience something you might not otherwise experience. You'll get a chance to listen for flying squirrels, bats, owls."
An owl caller may join the group on Friday night as well, Reynolds said. "When he calls out, the expectation is an owl will call back.
"In July, a great horned owl flew overtop of the group as they walked along," he said. "That doesn't happen often."
With clear skies expected throughout the day and into the evening, there likely will be a fair amount of moonlight to light the tour along the way.
"But even an overcast evening will provide a rare opportunity ... to hone your nighttime senses and play outside after dark without a flashlight," Reynolds said.
Space for the Great Swamp Watershed Association Blue Moon Hike is limited; visit the GSWA website to reserve a spot, or call 973-538-3500 x22 to make a phone reservation. GSWA members may participate at no additional cost. Non-members are asked to make a voluntary donation of $10/adult and $5/child (6 to 17 yrs.), or $35\family (4 people included).