Union County’s annual Bio-Blitz wildlife survey is back with fun for the whole family and a full slate of hands-on nature activities on Friday evening, June 16 and all day Saturday, June 17 at Union County’s Warinanco Park in Roselle.
“Bio-Blitz is our signature event for raising awareness about nature conservation in our County parks, and it enables children and adults to mingle with professional naturalists and scientists as they go about their work,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “It’s an inspiring experience on many levels and we are especially excited to bring it to Warinanco Park this year.
Known as “the Central Park of Union County,” Warinanco shares the same lineage with other public parks designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Olmsted and his sons. It features expansive vistas, meandering pathways, waterways and areas for active and passive recreation.
“Thousands of Union County residents and visitors know Warinanco Park for its athletic fields, picnic groves, playgrounds, and even paddle boating and ice skating,” said Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski. “Bio-Blitz offers a unique opportunity to get to know the wildlife that calls the park home, too.”
Bio-Blitz 2017 begins at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 16. Public activities continue after dark, until 11:30 p.m., and then resume from 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 17.
Visitors can come to the “Bio-Blitz Central” staging area in the newly opened Warinanco Park Sports Center (formerly the Ice Skating Center) to view exhibits, engage in on-going activities and gather for scheduled activities. All activities are free. Participants in scheduled activities are requested to sign up at the information table when they arrive.
Friday’s field activities include the popular Owl Prowl and Star Watch, along with scouting for wild edibles and trapping night-time moths and other insects.
This year Bio-Blitz includes the “Going Batty over Bats” field activity, in which participants can try their hand at spotting bats with the help of an acoustic monitor.
Saturday’s lineup begins with an early morning bird walk, and continues non-stop with more than a dozen scheduled programs exploring fields, gardens, ponds and streams.
Participants can join specialists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other scientists to examine trail cameras and track stations for signs of mammal activity in the park, follow along with the Fish Team to see how electro-fishing and seining are used to survey aquatic life, and look for turtle, frogs, toads, tadpoles and more.
From 9:00 to 9:45 on Saturday morning, garden enthusiasts can tour the formal Chatfield Garden and learn how it was transformed from tulip beds into a welcoming habitat for pollinators.
The popular Hawks and Owls program is also featured on Saturday, including live “ambassadors” from the Avian Wildlife Center.
Ongoing exhibits and activities at Bio-Blitz Central continue through Saturday including the hands-on Junior Naturalist area, live fish and insect exhibits, and prize drawings.
Union County has held a Bio-Blitz in various parts of its park system every year since 2005. The event is designed to engage the public in nature conservation while providing researchers with valuable information about biodiversity in urban and suburban communities.
“Warinanco Park is an especially interesting area for study because we have conducted several habitat restoration projects there in recent years, said Chairman Bergen.
The projects include unearthing a buried stream, restoring the lake shoreline with native plantings, establishing a pollinator meadow along the lake, and the pollinator-friendly redesign of Chatfield Garden.
Bio-Blitz visitors are advised to wear sturdy shoes for field activities and bring sun block.
For a complete schedule and more details visit ucnj.org/bio-blitz.
Professional scientists and other experts interested in joining a survey team can join online at ucnj.org/bio-blitz/registration until 5:00 p.m. June 6, or sign up in person when they arrive.
For information on all programs in Union County parks visit ucnj.org/parks-activities or call 908-527-4900.
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