Bernheim at Night Makes the Senses Come Alive

By Lindsay Duncan

The Milky Way seen from the Olmsted Ponds bridge. Photo credit: Eric Nally

Bernheim’s 2022 spring appeal, “Come to Your Senses”, focuses on unique, sensory-rich experiences our forest has to offer. One of the incredible auditory and visual marvels of Bernheim is the nocturnal world.

Bernheim is one of the few places in the Louisville area where you can still experience an unblemished night sky. Bernheim’s wild spaces also invite a diversity of insects and nocturnal creatures who put on an incredible symphony of sounds at night. Thanks to our dedicated Volunteer Naturalists, we are able to provide guided programming around the celestial experience. Bill Napper, a Bernheim Naturalist and dark sky advocate, leads a variety of programs centered around the stars, the full moon, creatures of the night, and other night-centric phenomena.

“A night walk reveals a nocturnal world filled with sensory magic and wonder. In the midst of the dark, fireflies make the night canvas come alive with movement, dance, and intrigue.

Fireflies with cloud lightning in the background, taken near Lake Nevin. Photo credit: Eric Nally

Our non-visual senses are also heightened in the dark, making the night come even more alive.

An opossum rustling leaves, a Whip-poor-will’s call, and other night sounds will seem louder to us. We’re also more likely to smell faint scents of plant aromas in the air and feel the passing breeze as it caresses the tiny hairs on our arms.” says Bill.

As with all conservation efforts, appreciation is key: we only work to protect what we know and love. Bernheim hopes to offer as many night programs as possible and provide an opportunity for everyone to connect with the natural beauty of Bernheim’s nocturnal world.

Without your support, our night programming, naturalist training, and the conservation of 16,140 acres of natural lands, would not be possible. We hope you will consider giving today. Every dollar donated before Friday, July 15, will be matched to help us reach our goal of $100,000. Carpe Noctem!

“Night is a fleeting thing in our world of constant light. The Bernheim ‘Creatures of the Night’ program was a reminder of the mystery and beauty of the nocturnal world we so rarely experience nowadays. Listening to a chorus of frogs while watching a wall of fireflies blend seamlessly into the starry night sky is something I won’t soon forget! Thank you for a reminder of the glory of nighttime!”  – Ellen Trahan, Board Chair of Louisville Sustainability Council and Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual. Ellen attended Bernheim’s program ‘Creatures of the Night: In Search of the Blue Ghost Fireflies’ led by Naturalist, Bill Napper.

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