Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Park Programs and Special Events for February 2016

Here's the schedule of programs and events at the park in February. Please call the park to register: 919-732-5505.
Nature’s Noisemakers Monday, February 1, 10-11am. Ages 2-5 yrs. Free.
Peep, squeak, growl and howl! We’ll practice our nature noises and search the park for sounds. Meet at the Park office. Pre-registration is required.
The Great Backyard Bird Count February 12-15. All ages. Free.
Participate in this National event here at the park or in your own backyard. Pick up instructions, field guides and data sheets from the Park office. Spend as little as 15 minutes counting birds, leave checklists for us to tally or submit the information from home.
Valentine’s Day Nature Walk Sunday, February 14, 9-11:30am. Free.
Spend the morning with your sweetie on the trails of Little River Park. This informal group walk will be at a pace which allows for picture taking and enjoyment of the natural surroundings. We’ll have a few guide books and binoculars to loan. Meet at the Large Shelter.
Building bird boxes.
Bird Box Building Saturday, February 20, 2 –3:30pm. Ages 6 yrs. & older. Fee: $5 per box.
Build a nest box to help attract bluebirds, chickadees, and wrens to your backyard. Meet at the Large Shelter. Pre-registration is required.
Mountain Bike Skills Course Workday Saturday, February 27, 9am-12pm. Ages 6 yrs. & older. Free.
Lend a hand with building the final few elements for the skills course. Bring your bike and we'll take a ride when our work is done. Meet at the park office.
Free programs made possible by donations from the Little River Trail Runs and the TrailHeads Running Club.

Warm but Sloppy Conditions for 2016 Little River Trail Runs

7k starting pack.
The 11th Little River Trail Runs were held on Saturday, January 16, 2016. It was much warmer than previous years with a balmy 37 degrees F greeting runners for the start of the 10-mile and 7-k races. In keeping with Little River races past, precipitation also played a part in this year's run. Over .25" of rain fell late Friday creating some sloppy trail treads in low lying areas, especially along the river.

The trail run is put on by a dedicated group of runners from Chapel Hill known as the Trailheads. Proceeds from the run are donated to Little River Park and also used to purchase carbon offsets. Last year's run was "carbon negative" with the purchase of enough offsets to negate the carbon emissions caused by the travel of all participants. The park has used the donated funds to pay for trail improvements, equipment and to underwrite the cost of park programs like star gazing with Morehead Planetarium and visits from wildlife educators, CLAWS. This year the park was able to offer its Tiny Trekkers and Discovery Club kids programs for free as well. The trail runs have generated over $60,000 in donations to the park over the past 10 years.

A beautiful day along the 7k course.
The Trailheads began the Little River Trail Runs as a way to get runners off the streets and into nature to enjoy their favorite pastime along the quiet forest trails. The low-key event is welcoming to runners of all abilities. With over 500 runners, it has become one of the largest trail races in the area. The event draws runners from as far away as Alaska and Rhode Island. The unpredictable conditions in mid-January add to the ambiance of the race. Past year's conditions have included temperatures in the teens, ice, snow and mud.

Related Reading:

Little River runners traverse slippery slopes:  http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/community/chapel-hill-news/article56360085.html

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015-2016 Christmas Bird Count Results for Little River Park

After weeks of temperatures in the 60's and 70's, the day of the bird count the weather turned cold. That may explain the lackluster numbers for this year. Or perhaps these are normal for mid-December. This year marked a change in the date of the count from New Year's Day to the first Sunday after December 13th. This change was to be able to join the count circle in Durham which the park is within.
Here's what we recorded for December 20th, 2015:
Weather Conditions:

Sky Conditions: Clear
Wind Direction & Velocity: Calm
Temperature: 25°F

Checklist Results:

Black Vulture - 2
Turkey Vulture - 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 2
Downy Woodpecker - 1
American Crow - 3
Carolina Chickadee - 1
Tufted Titmouse - 3
White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
Carolina Wren - 2
Eastern Bluebird - 7
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
Field Sparrow - 2
White-throated Sparrow - 6
Northern Cardinal - 7

There were 14 individual species counted with 41 total birds spotted.  
More information about the Audubon Christmas Bird Count can be found at the National Audubon Society's website: http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count.

If you'd like to take part in a bird count, the park will participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count from February 12-15, 2016, which is a great event for first-time counters or beginning birders as well as experienced birders. Call the park office for more information: 919-732-5505.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Park Programs and Events for January 2016

New Year’s Day Nature Walk

Friday, January 1, 9–11:30am. Free.

Start the new year enjoying the trails of Little River Park on this informal group walk. This walk will be at a pace which allows for picture taking and enjoyment of the natural surroundings. We’ll have a few guide books and binoculars to loan. Meet at the Large Shelter.

Beginning Birder
Birds for Beginners
Monday, January 4, 10-11am. Ages 2-5 yrs. Free.
We’re breaking out the binoculars and brushing up on our bird basics! Help put out some seeds and watch our feathered friends at the feeders. Meet at the Park office. Pre-registration is required.
11th Annual Little River Trail Run
Saturday, January 16, 9am & 9:30am.
The Park will be moving as runners converge on the trails of Little River Regional Park. Sponsored by the Trailheads, runners of every level are encouraged to participate in a fun, relaxed and enjoyable morning on the trails. Register at www.trailheads.org for the 10 mile or 7k races.
Full Moon Hike
Saturday, January 23, 5:30-7pm. Ages 6 yrs & older. Free.
Experience Little River Park in a whole new light on this hike led by park staff. We’ll learn about nocturnal animals, hoot like owls and howl at the moon. Meet at the Large Shelter. Pre-registration is required.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Viewing the Geminid Meteor Shower 2015

Geminid's over Chile, 2013.
 Image Credit & Copyright:
Yuri Beletsky
 (Las Campanas Observatory,
 Carnegie Institution)
The Geminids can be seen each year in December. This year's meteor activity begins on December 4 and will peak on the evenings of December 13 and 14. A waxing crescent moon sets early in the evening making for a nice dark sky.

The shower is named for the constellation Gemini, the Twins, from where the meteors appear to originate. Although most meteor showers are associated with a comet, the Geminids form from the rocky asteroid 3200 Phaethon. The orbit of the 3 mile wide asteroid takes it pretty close to the Sun every 1.4 years. The intense heat causes the asteroid to fracture and crumble off bits of debris which then crash into the Earth's atmosphere every year around December.

The Geminid meteor shower is a favorite, especially for younger viewers, because the show gets going early in the evening. Even so, more meteors will be visible as the constellation Gemini reaches its peak in the night sky, around 2am. This meteor shower can also be one of the most spectacular shows of the year, with possible sightings of over 100 meteors in an hour.

Tips for Viewing Meteor Showers:

1. Find a spot away from areas with bright lights.
2. Check the weather and dress appropriately - you'll be sitting/laying for long stretches.
3. Pack a chair, blanket, some water or a warm beverage and a snack.
4. Sit back, wait, and enjoy.

Give yourself at least an hour to view the show since our eyes need at least 20 minutes to adjust to the darkness. Avoid looking at your cell phone or using a flashlight. You can use a light with a red filter to preserve your night vision. Also, meteors tend to be active in short bursts, followed by a lull, so be patient.

Where to View the Geminid Meteor Shower:

Morehead Planetarium, the Raleigh Astronomy Club (RAC), and the Chapel Hill Astronomical & Observational Society (CHAOS) will host two skywatching sessions for the Geminid meteor shower:

- December 13     8pm
Little River Regional Park & Natural Area, 301 Little River Park Way, Rougemont, NC 27572

- December 14     8pm
Jordan Lake - Ebenezer Church Recreation Area, 2582 Beaver Creek Road, Apex, NC 27502

More information can be found at http://moreheadplanetarium.org/programs/teen-adult-programs/skywatching

Further reading:
Everything you need to know: Geminid meteor shower - http://earthsky.org/?p=187764

Meteor Showers in 2015 - http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/celestial-objects-to-watch/meteor-showers-in-2015-12142014/

Meteor Showers: Shooting for Shooting Stars -

Monday, November 30, 2015

December Programs at Little River Park

Here’s a list of park programs and events for December. Remember the park hours are still 8am-5pm. Also, the park is closed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Geminid Meteor Shower Viewing
Sunday, December 13, 8pm-10pm. Free. All ages. No registration required.
Join us for the peak of the Geminid meteor shower. Morehead Planetarium will be on hand to give us a tour of the night sky and the big telescopes will be out in the big field. Camp chairs, blankets, and picnics are welcome. Call 919-732-5505 after 4:00pm on the day of the program for cloud or cancellation information.
Edible Ornaments
Saturday, December 19, 1:00pm – 4:00pm. Free. All ages. No registration required.
It’s peanut butter, pinecone- craft time, folks! Find out what birds are hanging around for the winter and make a few nature-themed ornaments for them to eat. Meet at the Large Shelter.
Christmas Bird Count
Sunday, December 20, 9:00am – 12:00pm. Free. Ages 6 yrs. & older. No registration required.
Come count the birds at Little River. Join staff as we tally the diverse species of birds found around the park for Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count.
New Year’s Day Nature Walk
Friday, January 1, 9–11:30am. Free.
Start the New Year enjoying the trails of Little River Park on this informal group walk. This walk will be at a pace which allows for picture taking and enjoyment of the natural surroundings. We’ll have a few guide books and binoculars to loan. Meet at the Large Shelter.
We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holidays and we look forward to seeing you at the park.

More program and event information can be found at: http://littleriverrambler.blogspot.com/2015/01/new-online-calendar-of-events.html

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Registration Opens for 11th Annual Little River Trail Runs

Please join us for the 2016 running of the Little River Trail Runs on January 16, 2016. This will be the 11th year of the race, which has thus far raised over $61,000 for Little River Regional Park and Natural Area and for local trails, including last year’s record donation of $11,000.
Registration opens October 1st, 2016 at https://www.sportoften.com/event/25510/little-river-trail-runs. This race fills to capacity each year, so don’t miss out, register early!  Also, orders for race shirts will be placed in a few weeks’ time; your shirt size can only guaranteed if you register by December 5. So don’t delay, and please help spread the word.

For those who are registered for the 2016 race, a Course Tour is scheduled for Saturday December 19, 2015, beginning at 9:00am. This is a low-key outing followed by coffee, hot chocolate, pastries, and fruit.  Tour leaders who are familiar with both the 7K and 10 mile courses will be on hand, and who will accommodate a variety of paces.  For more information or to join the course tour, please reply to littlerivertrailruns@gmail.com with “Course Tour” in the subject line.