Bergenite Column: Butterfly Day

DSCN0056Jim Wright, who keeps this blog for the Meadowlands Commission, also writes a twice-monthly nature column for the South Bergenite.

His latest is on this Sunday’s Butterfly Day at DeKorte Park:

How time flies. This Sunday is the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s Fifth Annual Butterfly Day in DeKorte Park. It seems like only yesterday we were leading our very first butterfly walk here (it was actually July 2009).

This year, we are aiming to make Butterfly Day the best yet, with all sorts of events and attractions for the whole family, from a nature walk and author talks to scavenger hunts and a butterfly costume contest.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and everything is free. No wonder more than 600 people attended Butterfly Day last year.

The top attraction, of course, is the butterflies themselves. Although we can’t predict how many we might see that day — they are maddeningly unpredictable — we have already spotted a dozen species at DeKorte this summer, plus several mesmerizing clear-winged moths that resemble miniature hummingbirds.

Helping you identify the swallowtails, skippers, fritillaries, azures and buckeyes will be experts from the North Jersey chapter of the North American Butterfly Association as well as the Bergen County Audubon Society, who will also have a booth explaining why native plants and butterflies go hand in hand (or wing in wing).

You can see most of the butterflies in the vicinity of Jill’s Garden, which is right outside the Meadowlands Environment Center — where all the talks and many of the activities for children will take place.

At 10:10 a.m. and 12:10 and 2:10 p.m., we’re offering short explanatory slide shows on the butterflies of DeKorte.  You’ll not only learn how to ID the most-common butterflies, but you’ll also find out about all the places in DeKorte Park where you can see these beautiful insects.

Children’s book author Thomas F. Yezerski, who created the marvelous “Meadowlands: a Wetlands Survival Story,” will give an illustrated talk at 11:10 a.m. about his book and how he designed those wonderful illustrations.

At 1:10 p.m., I’ll give an illustrated talk, “The Nature of the Meadowlands,” the coffee-table book I did for the Meadowlands Commission about the region’s incredible environmental recovery.

As a bonus, the Meadowlands Environment Center’s Flyway Gallery is presenting an exhibition of 60 color nature photographs and archival images from the book for you to enjoy and view up-close.

One of the crowd-pleasers of Butterfly Days past is the annual nature walk led by botanist Edith Wallace (at 11:30 a.m.). She makes the most seemingly-commonplace plants fascinating.

Other attractions include a live folk singer, a face painter, arts and crafts activities for kids, and raffle drawings for great prizes, such as tickets for NJMC Pontoon Boat Cruises on the Hackensack River.

One word of advice: Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunches. Food will not be sold at Butterfly Day.

For more information, call me at 201-460-2002.   The rain date is Sunday, Aug. 3.



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