What do shorebirds, wildflowers, butterflies, shipwrecks, dogs and moonlight have in common? They are all a part of the arrival of March at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, of course! March brings the start of shorebird nesting season and typically the end of prescribed fire season. Wildflowers and carnivorous plants, like the Yellow Pitcher Plant and the Dwarf Sundew, are springing back to life and blooming. Dwarf Sundews are a deep red and are about the size of a quarter. If you’re not careful, you’ll probably step right on them. Want to know a secret of where to find them? They’re along the edges of No Name Lake and Campbell Lake.
Shorebirds need all the help they can get to survive. Shorebirds make little scrape indentations in the sand for their nests. The parents can easily be disturbed or scared away, leaving their eggs unattended. This is one of the reasons that dogs aren’t allowed on the beach in Florida State Parks. While enjoying the beach, please watch where you are walking. Shorebird eggs are camouflaged to blend in with the sand. Please remember to #LeaveNoTrace and keep the beach clean, #CleanDarkFlat. Take all of your belongings and trash with you when you leave the beach everyday. The shorebirds will truly appreciate your concern and assistance with their survival and well-being.
Along with regular park programming like the Sunday Funday Ranger Program, Bird Walk and Plant Stroll, March is also a month full of unique educational offerings. March 8th is the Art in the Park Watercolor class with Carol Dickson. Students will be painting a beautiful Great Blue Heron. March 15th at 10am is the Topsail Talks “Shipwrecks” presentation. March 16th is the National Learn About Butterflies and Craft Day mini event from 10:30am – 12:30pm. March 20th is the Spring Equinox and from 5:30-8:30pm, is the last Moonlight Paddle of the season. April 5th is Topsail Under the Stars from 4-9:30pm. Both Art in the Park and the Moonlight Paddle require advanced online registration at www.topsailparkfriends.org.
March typically brings the end of prescribed fire season to the park. Make sure to double check at the Ranger Station or on Facebook (@FriendsofTopsailHillPreserveStatePark) if any of the trails are closed due to a recent prescribed fire before you head out.
Have you heard the news?! Dogs can now be a B.A.R.K. Ranger at the park! Modeled after the National Park Service’s program, dog owners learn the rules of B.A.R.K. while doing a dog friendly activity in the park. B.A.R.K. stands for: B= Bag your poop, A=Always wear a leash, R=Respect Wildlife and K=Know where you can go. Make sure to pick up a B.A.R.K. Ranger brochure on your way into the park to learn how your dog can become a B.A.R.K Ranger.
There is something for everyone at the park. You can enjoy the beach, go biking, hit the trails, camp, gaze at the rare Coastal Dune Lakes or attend a program or event. All that is missing is you, whether you are enjoying Topsail Hill Preserve State Park for the day or volunteering. Volunteer opportunities are always available. For more information about the park visit www.floridastateparks.org. See you soon!