Visiting Tackapausha Museum and Preserve By Kelly Walter
Are you bored but can't seem to find anything to fit your family's diverse interests? Then check out Tackapausha Museum and Preserve located right in our own backyard, on Washington Avenue in Seaford. The museum's interesting displays on Long Island's natural history and the majestic beauty of the preserve are sure to entertain and educate the whole family from Grandma to your littlest tike.
Start out by going to the museum for some information on what you'll be seeing once you start out on the trails. Entrance to the museum is only $2 for adults, $1 for children and kids under the age of 4 are free, which makes this also an inexpensive activity.
The museum is filled with vibrant and life-like exhibits about the Long Island environment. The displays on the different types of animals that can be found on Long Island are sure to be a hit with young ones. Beautifully encased images of painted scenery surround figures of animals, like the cotton-tail rabbit and the woodchuck. There are even some real animals incorporated into the presentation, like turtles and toads.
Within these displays, information is also presented about what a niche and an environment are or an explanation about life cycles. Much of this information is taught in middle school and high school, which makes these displays learning tools for your older kids. However, the displays will not just teach teens, but they will also interest them because it brings to life concepts that they already have learned.
Adults will enjoy the section of the museum dedicated to providing information on the unique environment and formation of Long Island. An octagonal table provides information on the geography of Long Island and the different types of land like moraines, kames and barrier islands. Surrounding it is an exhibit about the most recent epoch or 250,000 years to today, with information on the cave men and the different layers of the land. This leaves you with a new found appreciation of Long Island.
Don't miss the live animals, like the fascinating Egyptian Fruit Bats or the magnificent Eastreen Screech Owls. All age groups will be amazed by these remarkable animals. You can observe the bats hanging upside down or see the owls watching you!
There is also a children's area in the museum with activities for kids as young as toddlers. There are puzzles, board games, pictures to color, and a computer station. The museum is available for children's birthday parties and scout programs. However, all of this is merely a prelude to the preserve. The 80 acre preserve is divided into three sections, all of which are filled with stunning natural beauty. If you are starting from the museum, you are in the southern section of the preserve. The self-guiding trails allow you to go at your own pace and soak in your surroundings.
All of these preserve grounds were once dominated by the Native Americans and called "Arrasquaugh," or marshy creek. It was later renamed Tackapausha after the Native American Chief of the Massapequa area. The preserve is primarily a red maple and white oak forest, but in this southern section lays the largest remaining stand of Atlantic White Cedar in Nassau County.
As you continue on your way, you will notice many birdwatchers due to the enormous amount of bird species that have been identified at the preserve- over 170 different birds. In the spring and fall, many migrating birds can be seen stopping at the preserve.
After you cross Sunrise Highway, you will enter the central section. In this section, you will see Black Duck Pond, also known as Mansfield Pond and Lake Ramona. This serene area is where many different birds can be found, such as ducks, ibis and herons.
The history continues as you hike across Clark Avenue into the northern section. A small wetland can be found in this area, which was previously part of Lake Tackapausha. Before refrigerators, ice was cut from the lake and stored for use in the summer months.
This is only a small taste of what can be found in the preserve. There are many more historical sites in addition to the serenity that this natural retreat offers. The refuge has been conserved as an inkling of what Long Island once was and this splendor definitely deserves your visit.
The preserve is open from dawn until sunset and the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, call (516) 571-7443.
A Nature Sanctuary on the South Shore
In the middle of densely populated Seaford on the South Shore, is an historic and beautiful 84-acre sanctuary of oak forests, ponds and streams, small mammals and scores of bird species, all of which can viewed via five miles of clearly marked trails.
The Tackapausha Preserve, the first tract of preserve land acquired by Nassau County (in 1938 and originally for drainage purposes), is one of the most popular preserves on the South Shore. Bordered by Merrick Road on the south and Jerusalem Avenue on the north, it provides residents with the opportunity to enjoy a physically and spiritually invigorating hike in a convenient and accessible location. In addition, the preserve incorporates a 3,000-square-foot museum with displays about the ecology of Long Island, as well as animal exhibits and shows and interactive activities for children. The museum is also available for birthday parties on weekends. The preserve itself consists of three sections divided by major roads, with trails that meander through each part. In the southern section, between Merrick Road and Sunrise Highway, the preserve is host to the largest Atlantic White Cedar “stand,” or grouping of trees, in Nassau County, located in a swamp just north of Tackapausha Pond, near Merrick Road. In the central section, between Sunrise Highway and Clark Avenue, a small, secluded pond draws waterfowl and amphibians. The northern section, between Clark and Jerusalem avenues, includes a small wetland near Clark. Bird-watchers often hike the trails, with lawn chairs in tow, seeking out species commonly found at the preserve, such as the ruby-throated humming bird. In all, more than 170 bird species have been identified within the preserve, along with raccoon, muskrat, gray squirrel and opossum. Says Carole Ryder, museum curator and biologist: “The preserve offers a relatively quiet and quick getaway in a developed suburban area. It’s a very nice refuge for residents of the area and beyond. I’m always drawn to the solitude and beauty it provides in this very busy part of the county.”
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