Tag Archives: friends groups

A different kind of moon walk

We are lucky to have amazing friends. We’ve bragged about them here a few times. And this time is no different as John H. King with the Friends of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, shares a narrative with us about a moon walk that the friends hosted at the refuge, a pleasing treat for visitors.  

We at Friends of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge hosted our monthly free full moon family hike on Saturday, July 12, at the Two Mile Beach Unit in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey.  As the week preceding the event progressed and the weather forecast continued to improve, we knew we could be in for an epic crowd.  Thousands of vacationers had descended on nearby Wildwood, and this particular moon would be full on exactly the evening of our Saturday walk.  Plus, this would be a “super moon,” which means the moon would be full at the time of perigee (when the moon is nearest to the earth), so we knew that if the skies stayed clear, visitors would be in for a real treat!

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Visitors heading down to the beach at the beginning of the moon walk.

As it turns out, we welcomed over 100 visitors that evening, a record for any of our events. We had scheduled some free pre-walk entertainment from a local singing group, The Calamity Janes and Friends. The music was lovely and fun. Many thanks to them for joining us at no cost, and we hope they can do this again.  They played and sang a great selection of moon songs:  Blue Moon, Moondance, Moon Shadow and Moon, Moon, Moon…. all terrific choices!

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The Calamity Janes and Friends playing some tunes.

Everyone on the walk saw and heard so many amazing things!  A cool breeze kept the bugs at bay, our eastern towhee appeared and sang on cue along the Dune Trail, tree crickets were trilling, we spotted gulls, terns, and osprey and we saw ghost crabs, horseshoe crabs, shells, and more on the beach. There was a high flood tide, almost covering the jetty and razor clam holes bubbled as they were covered by the incoming tide. A child asked why there are called razor clams. An older gentleman on the walk answered and described the straight razors that his grandfather used and had handed down to him.  The super moon appeared out over the ocean—shrouded and misty red on the horizon at first, like an apparition or a mirage; it rose so rapidly then blossomed into a shiny yellow wheel of cheese!

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Not sure if this photo does it justice, but this was our setting on the walk.

Sailboats were offshore, a noisy pair of oystercatchers flew by and the beach was left wild and natural, untouched by the nightly raking of the nearby Wildwood “Beach Zamboni” machines. Darkness settled on us as we began our return. There were flashlights of children spotting ghost crabs everywhere as we made our way single-file down the darkened Dune Trail. The song of a single whippoorwill came from somewhere in the dark tangle of dune forest. It was such a marvelous night for a moondance!!

Honoring a hero, celebrating service

Martin Luther King

“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

A pivotal figure in the civil rights movement, Dr. King was a leader that rallied for and supported community action, justice, love and peace. On this national day of service when we honor Dr. King’s legacy and come together to serve our neighbors and communities, we’d like to take a minute to thank our volunteers for all they do.

Each year, more than 7,000 volunteers donate about 250,000 hours of service, making a lot of the work we do possible. Whether banding birds at a national wildlife refuge, raising fish at a national fish hatchery, conducting wildlife surveys, leading a tour, or restoring fragile habitat, our volunteers truly embody grassroots conservation. They really do it all! We won’t even be able to scratch the surface in this blog post, but check out just a few things our volunteers have done to make a difference.

Long-time volunteers Leo Hollein and Lou Pisane have been leading the the Wood Duck Nest Box Program since 2004 at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey. The program was initiated to help increase the local wood duck population and has been a success. Last year, more than half of the refuge’s 196 boxes were used by wood ducks, and just over 30 percent of the boxes succeeded in producing broods.

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Refuge volunteers, Lou and Leo. Credit: Dorothy Fecske/USFWS

Throughout the region, volunteers help us tackle invasive species, and we mean thousands of pounds of invasive species. At the Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation office, volunteers have helped remove over 5,000 pounds of water chestnut plants, which can change the underwater habitat for fish and compete with native plants. And volunteers at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine removed bags of invasive Chinese privet, morrow’s honeysuckle, oriental bittersweet, and Japanese barberry.

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Removing Chinese privet, burning bush, and barberry at Timber Point. Credit: Steve Norris/ USFWS

A citizen science crew from various communities in Connecticut are working to put vernal pools on the map- literally. These temporary, yet important bodies of water are home to many different animals, but they don’t always appear on wetlands maps, which influence where projects are placed. Connecticut Audubon leads the crew with financial support from the Natural Resource Damage Assesment and Restoration Program, to help empower residents to protect their wetlands in the future.

Did we mention that the Berkshire National Fish Hatchery is the first and only hatchery in the National Fish Hatchery System run solely by volunteers? In 1994, the hatchery was closed because of a lack of funding and in 1999, a local group of volunteers decided it was worth saving. They began clearing brush, removing trash and fixing decayed buildings. In August 2006, the volunteers, officially known as the Berkshire Hatchery Foundation, and the Service signed a memorandum of understanding that authorized the group to operate the hatchery with guidance from the Service. Nice work, isn’t it?

We know how lucky we are for an amazing group of people that lend their time, energy and expertise to help make our work possible. Thank you to all of our volunteers and friends groups for their countless hours and days of service!

In Dr. King’s famous words: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” How will you serve this MLK holiday or any time throughout the year?