Friday, December 16, 2011

The Great Swamp Under A Full Moon

Thanks to those of you who joined us at the Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA) on a gorgeous full-moon night on December 10 to take part in our last full-moon hike of the season. More than 120 people attended this event; more people than GSWA has ever had on one of these hikes! The turn-out was truly amazing, so we have decided to put more of these outings on our calendar in for 2012. Keep an eye out for our event announcements and please tell your friends to join our email list by visiting our home page at (Please note that we will be limiting future hikes to 30 guests in order to increase the chances of hearing wildlife and minimize the damage of foot traffic.)

If you are out and about after dark on these long nights, here are some of the sights and sounds to watch out for. The next full moon won’t be until the new year. It’s 7:30 a.m. on January 9th and goes by the name of the Full Wolf Moon. It’s also known as the Old Moon, or the Snow Moon according to some native peoples. Bundle up and head for a street light free area to watch or wander by its light.

While you’re out and about, listen for the three owls you might be lucky enough to hear. Those present on our hike listened hard for Screech, Barred and Great Horned owls, but, as they are all breeding during the winter months, pairs will be active hunting for their young owlets over the coming nights.

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)

NJ’s largest owl, also known as the hoot owl. Its call is the haunting low-pitched but loud ho-ho-hoo hoo hoo. They are locally common, and very likely owl you’ll hear out the window in your yard as they hunt for their prey of small to medium-sized mammals such as rabbits, hares, and skunks. Great horned owls have even been known to hunt prey much heavier than themselves, such as raccoons, and young fox, even Great Blue Herons! They are paired up by now, getting ready to lay their eggs in the bleakest part of winter, so listen for their paired calling.

Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Also known as the hoot owl, this owl has a call not unlike a rooster! Some say the call can be parsed as who-cooks-for-you-who-cooks-for-you-too-oo. This owl prefers deeply forested areas including prey rich wetland areas within Great Swamp watershed, although some residential neighborhoods may make good habitat too. This owl feeds on smaller mammal prey, or small songbirds as they roost. Driving through Great Swamp at dusk you might be lucky enough to spot a Barred owl getting a jump on its nocturnal hunting.

Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio)

One of the smallest owls in NJ, the grayish or reddish screech owl has a haunting tremolo like call. It does not sound like the unearthly screech of the barn owl, but has a rolling trill. This species breeds in late winter. Males, who find and secure the nest site, attract their mate by calling, by the quality of the nesting cavity they have found, and by the food they place within the nest! As with most owls, both parents care for the young. You might hear their communication calls as they hunt when you step out late at night to let the cat out!

Hikers at last week's Moonlight Hike learned a little about both nocturnal (night active) and diurnal (day active) creatures of the area, and also learned a new crossword puzzle word—crepuscular—which covers those animals active at dawn and dusk in the twilight hours. Though it may seem that we humans are also crepuscular at this time of year, look forward to steadily lengthening days after the winter solstice on December 22.

We hope you will continue to visit places around the Great Swamp Watershed, including Morris and Somerset County Park Commission’s properties, Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Morristown National Historical Park, Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, and, indeed, our own Conservation Manamgnet Area located at 1 Tiger Lily Lane in Morristown.

And, we do hope you’ll consider joining our organization and venturing out with us on another educational program in 2012.

Best regards for the holidays,

Your Friends at the Great Swamp Watershed Association


Friday, December 9, 2011

Full Moon Hike Sold Out!

Dear Friends of GSWA,

Registration for our Full Moon Hike on December 10, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. has closed early.  We have reached the maximum number of participants we can accommodate on this walk.

Another night hike will be scheduled for the first quarter of 2012.  Please sign up for our eNewsletter to receive event announcements via email.  Visit our home page at for our eNewsletter subscription form.

Thanks for your support!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Artists Celebrate The Great Swamp And The Great Swamp Watershed Association

Twenty-five well-established artists—many local—find inspiration in New Jersey’s Great Swamp

Protecting our Waters and our Land, a new exhibition of fine art coming to Studio 7 Fine Art Gallery and the Bernardsville Public Library this December and January, features artists’ visions of the Great Swamp, one of New Jersey’s last wildernesses.

Located less than a stone’s throw from some of the state’s most densely populated urban and suburban centers, the Great Swamp’s large, undeveloped tracts of forest and wetlands provide a safe haven for a wide variety of plants and animals that have been pushed out of other areas by human activity.

The intrinsic natural beauty of the Great Swamp and the ten towns ittouches have inspired 25 well-established artists—many of them local—to create a multitude of stunning works in oil, pastels, watercolors, photography, and other media.

Two environmentally concerned art aficionados, Kathleen Palmer of Bernardsville and Ben Wolkowitz of Madison, have collected these pieces together into a single exhibit celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Great Swamp Watershed Association and honoring the organization’s ongoing commitment to the protection of the Great Swamp’s environmentally sensitive waters and land.  Palmer is also the owner of Studio 7 Fine Art Gallery, while Wolkowitz serves as the current President of the Great Swamp Watershed Association.

"The Great Swamp Watershed Association has played a crucial role in protecting our natural resources,” Ms. Palmer said recently, “This exhibit honors their efforts and serves as a thank you from the many artists who have loved to photograph and paint this pristine area of our great state."

Protecting our Waters and our Land includes pieces by renowned New Jersey artists Gerry Heydt (Plainfield, NJ) and Mark de Mos (Morristown, NJ).

Known for her atmospheric, boldly brushed landscape landscape and still life paintings, Ms. Heydt is intimately familiar with the natural world and the work of environmental groups like GSWA.  In 2010 she created a similar exhibit of artwork honoring the legacy of The Land Conservancy of New Jersey. “Still Waters,” one of Ms. Heydt’s pieces that will be on display in Bernardsville, transforms a typical scene of one of the Great Swamp’s many wetland areas into an image of true environmental majesty.

Mr. de Mos endeavors to produce art that is alive and creates a drama conveying a feeling or a slice of life.  His professional painting career stretches back more than three decades and, as one of the founders of the Pastel Society of New Jersey in 2005, he is working to secure a vital future for pastel painting within the state.  Mr. de Mos’s piece “Fallen Giants” is an oil painting in golden hues that reflects on the nature and importance of trees within the Great Swamp.  Given the landscape damage cause by recent hurricanes and snowstorms, this piece will strike a relevant and timely chord with all those who see it.

Protecting Our Waters And Our Land opens to the public on Thursday, December 1, 2011, and will remain on display through Saturday, January 28, 2012.  Half of the exhibition will be housed at Studio 7 Fine Art Gallery located at 5 Morristown Road in Bernardsville.  The other half of the exhibition will be housed across the street at the Bernardsville Public Library located at 1 Anderson Hill Road in Bernardsville.  Please check the hours of operation for each venue in order to determine the best time to visit.

A reception celebrating the opening of the exhibit will be held as part of the monthly BernARTSville Art Walk series on Friday, December 2, 2011.  All are welcome to stop by Studio 7 Fine Art Gallery between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., and the Bernardsville Library between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., for this special viewing.  Participating artists, as well as representatives from the Great Swamp Watershed Association will be in attendance.  Refreshments will be served.

Works displayed in the exhibition will be available for sale at a variety of price points. Notecards depicting selected works from the exhibit will be available for sale from Studio 7 Fine Art Gallery and the Great Swamp Watershed Association ( A percentage of proceeds from all sales will go to support environmental education, advocacy, and stewardship programs within the Great Swamp watershed region.

Participating artists include Stephanie Amato, Albert L. Bross Jr., Charlie Churchill, Mark de Mos, Susan Donnell, Tim Gaydos, Gerry Heydt, Lee W. Hughes, Ari Kaufman, Carol Livingston, James McGinley, Doug Merritt, Dannielle Mick, Neil Nappe, Nancy Ori, Anthony Panzera, Robert W. Pillsbury, Linda Quinn, John Reilly, Charles Robinson, Elliott Ruga, Deborah Seymour, Alana Van Rensselaer, and Ray Yaros.