In case you were wondering where we’ve been..
We recently obtained 10 new kayaks and have been offering Neuse River Day trips for only $15/person! These trips span almost 12 beautiful miles of the Neuse River. Along the way, we’ve heard the calls of hawks, seen our fare share of brown watersnakes, and have found tracks of raccoons, opossums, and even a great blue heron!
I’ve found that the most amazing thing about these trips is that you never, EVER, see the same things twice. The river is never flowing at the same rate, or at the same height. Wildlife is never the same— one day you may see wild hogs drinking off the bank, and the next you see a brown watersnake basking in the sun. Between Howell Woods and Richardson Bridge is a pretty remote area to be traveling. Cellular service is slim-to-none and the only “city sounds” you may hear is the sound of an aircraft overhead. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to truly disconnect from our tech-savvy world, take a kayak out on one of the beautiful bodies of water that is found here in North Carolina. I promise you, it’s never a boring trip.
Maggie (my dachshund) and I took a walk through our trails yesterday to capture all of this water on camera. The top three pictures were taken at our newest boardwalk on Leopold Loop. Thanks to our volunteers, this project was finished just in time for all of the rain! However, the Sandhill trail (bottom picture) is a little flooded at the moment!
Our trails are currently closed to horseback riders, but we are continuing to welcome hikers, asking that they please take caution when navigating through our trail systems! Stay dry!
Because we are associated with Johnston Community College, we have a super-crazy holiday schedule.
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The Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) is a frequent but inconspicuous perennial in open deciduous woods. It produces one leaf in the fall that photosynthesizes through winter when trees are leafless. The broadly ovate leaf is dark green above and purple beneath. This picture was taken a few steps off of Fox Squirrel Ridge Trail, with leaves purposely turned to show the colors. The leaf withers in early summer and then a slender flower stalk of numerous small brown and white flowers follows soon after. Take a hike here at Howell Woods and see if you can find some of this remarkable orchid!
Lambrecht Owl Observatory
CRC’s Medical Center is very excited to announce the next building project on the rehab trail, the Lambrecht Owl Observatory. Thanks to the generous support of two owl-loving individuals, Sarah and Dennis Lambrecht, we were able to bring this vision to reality. The enclosure will allow CRC staff and volunteers to observe the behavior of injured and orphaned raptors (mostly owls and hawks) while being unseen by the animals. It will include a 48 foot flight cage with an attached two-story building at one end. The attached building will include one-way glass for observation and will possibly be wired so that we can test out new technology to observe behavior. This has the potential to produce a wide range of studies and research projects.
All seven of our birds of prey were transported to us from the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville, NC. I love to keep up with their blog; they post the most amazing pictures! Check out their newest project— the Lambrecht Owl Observatory!
It always makes me happy when I come into work and see such a beautiful shed! For those of you that may not know, a complete shed is complimentary to proper nutrition and habitat conditions. Snakes may have trouble shedding their skin if housed in a habitat with inadequate lighting and humidity. If your pet snake is having trouble shedding their skin, try misting them with warm water and keeping the humidity in their habitat above 50%. Adult snakes generally shed about once per month; juveniles more so.
If you’re curious as to who shed this particular skin, look in the back left of this tank and you’ll see our Eastern Kingsnake, Elvis. Elvis is one of our oldest residents, captured here at Howell Woods in the year 2000. Kingsnakes are rightfully named, as they are known for making a meal of other snakes— including Rattlesnakes and Copperheads! These snakes are extremely docile— we often use Elvis for the programs offered at Howell Woods. Elvis, along with our other exhibit creatures are available for viewing Monday-Friday 8am-5pm. Please make reservations for guided tours!
Planting and nurturing native plants around your home has many advantages. They generally grow well and require little care. North Carolina native plants provide food and cover for many animals. Common Wax-myrtle (Morella cerifera) is an evergreen small tree or shrub usually less than 20 feet tall, often in dense thickets. Leaves are usually toothed, with resin dots and fragrance. The tiny fruits are round and gray, relished by several species of birds. An important food source, persistent through winter when our feathered friends need them most!
We’re gearing up for winter here at Howell Woods! We recently installed new basking lights in our reptile enclosures; pictured here is our current Copperhead, Krissy, checking out the new lights that we installed.
Krissy is one of our oldest residents, with her records dating back to the year 2000! The Copperhead is one of the five species of venomous snakes that are on display in our live museum here at Howell Woods. In addition to Krissy, we also have a Timber Rattlesnake, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, two Pigmy Rattlesnakes and a Cottonmouth.
Venomous snakes are not the only wildlife on display here, we also have non-venomous native snakes, turtles, frogs, lizards and birds of prey on display. Come check out our live museum! Regular operating hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm. **Closed Thanksgiving Day!**
Happy Thanksgiving from the staff at Howell Woods Environmental Center!
Do you need a peaceful place to walk off your holiday feast? Have family and friends visiting from out of town? The Diversity Trail System has miles of well maintained hiking trails; open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset. Trail maps are available at the Learning Center. Please sign in and out with the number of folks in your party; and leave any comments or observations you have. Happy Holidays!
At Howell Woods, you can experience a variety of educational programs and recreational activities. See and learn about birds of prey, reptiles and
amphibians, or enjoy our wildflower and pollinator gardens.
Go hiking, camping bird watching, hunting, fishing, and more! Lift your spirits, challenge yourself, and learn something in the process!
What Makes Us Different?
In 1993, Rudolph Howell donated the property to Johnston Community College with hopes that it be used as an outdoor classroom. Nestled in a natural wooded setting between the Neuse River and Hannah and Mill creeks in southeastern Johnston County, Howell Woods offers a diversity of outdoor experiences and education opportunities for all ages.
Children, adults, and families can explore a diversity of habitats and discover native birds, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians, freshwater fishes and numerous plant species. At Howell Woods, you can find a number of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and biking; ponds and creeks for fishing; sites for camping; as well as controlled hunting areas for feral pig, deer, waterfowl, squirrel, and wild turkey.
The Learning Center showcases exhibits of live animals such as turtles, snakes, and several species of owl as well as a natural resource reference library.
Howell Woods is located at 6601 Devil’s Racetrack Road in the Bentonville community of southeastern Johnston County. The environmental learning center is in close proximity to interstates 95 and 40 in central North Carolina and is less than 45 miles from Raleigh, 20 miles from Goldsboro, and 15 miles from Smithfield and Newton Grove.
For More Information
Visit our website: http://www.johnstoncc.edu/howellwoods/default.aspx
Or contact the learning center at (919) 938-0115