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Turtles to frogs: taking the spring paddles kayak tour

Field technicians Julia Kinsella (left to right) and Zach Holzman, along with county resident Charlotte Ryan prepare for a spring paddles kayak tour at Scotland Run Nature Center in Clayton.

Ninety-minute sessions explores flora, fauna on Wilson Lake

Gloucester County kayak enthusiasts recently gathered at Wilson Lake in Scotland Run Park on a beautiful Thursday morning for a 90-minute spring paddles tour.

“I enjoy the peace and quiet,” said Charlotte Ryan of Pitman, an avid kayaker who especially likes to see turtles big and small sunbathe on a log. “I make turtles in ceramics class. The 13 sections of their shells represent the 13 moons in a year. It is a symbol of longevity in the Native American culture.”

Ryan has been on many of the kayak tours offered in the spring and the fall by the Gloucester County Department of Parks and Recreation. The tours begin and end across the street from the Scotland Run Nature Center on East Academy Street in Clayton.

“This is the last tour for the spring,” said Zach Holzman, who with fellow field technician Julia Kinsella pointed out plants, birds and animals to a group of kayakers while rowing around the 80-acre perimeter at Wilson Lake.

“I grew up in Toms River and my parents were really into boating,” he related. “I would get out on a kayak by myself.”

One of the many programs the nature center hosts to educate residents and the natural world around them, the spring paddles tour can be enjoyed by either single or tandem kayakers.

“I love being out on the water and being able to share with people what is out on the lake,” Kinsella noted. “I point out the plants, the fish, if the water is clear, a lot of frogs and occasionally blue herons.”

Scotland Run – at more than 1,300 acres – is the largest of the county parks. The lake offers passive recreation opportunities including fishing, boating and nature observation.

The nature center features live animals such as snakes, aquatic ecosystems and frogs and has many educational programs throughout the year, including guided trail walks, bird walks, nature detective camp and night presentations.

Tours are held every other week from April to June, and new sessions will begin again in the fall. For information, go to www.gloucestercountynj.gov/694/Scotland-Run-Park.

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