Ridgefield, in the northern part of the Meadowlands District, has several nifty attractions, from the restored wetlands of the Skeetkill Creek Marsh to the Monk Parakeets that nest under the highway bridge over the train tracks on Railroad Avenue.
But there's also the Ridgefield Nature Center, a beautiful wooded natural area comprising 5.4 acres off Shaler Boulevard by Ray Avenue.
The property was the source of the spring for the Great Bear Spring Water Co. from 1920 to 1975, at which point the land was sold to the Borough of Ridgefield.
Since then, the borough has been restoring the site, planting well-labeled native trees and plants and curtailing the invasive species. Those are labeled, too — so you'll know what to look out for in your own backyard and elsewhere.
Click "Continue reading…" immediately below for more information on the Ridgefield Nature Center.
The bad news is that the nature center is open only once a week, from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
The good news is that it offers all sorts of attractions, and that it is open to group tours on weekdays and Sundays. (Call 201-943-5215, x353, and leave a message for the borough's environmental commission.)
As for the attractions, we saw more than a dozen kinglets flitting from tree to tree on a recent visit, as well as a black-and-white warbler on a tree in the spring-fed pond just to the left of the entrance.
We also marveled at the nature center's funky fungi, from the batch on the right to the turkey tail mushrooms on the left below.
The nature center is also just a nice place to recharge your batteries. It offers a secluded bench on the hill to your right, as well as plenty of peace and quiet.
Another nice birding spot is directly across from the nature center entrance on Shaler Boulevard — the Ridgefield Community Garden — which attracts all sorts of birds as well as the local green thumbs.
One main reason for the nature center's success — the dedication of Karen and Bruce Riede and the rest of the borough's environmental commission, who lead the volunteer effort to keep Ridgefield's open spaces looking natural and clean.