Saturday, October 13, 2007

Nature Day

Yesterday, our nature group went on its monthly Nature Day. What an amazing day! The weather was in the mid-80's and we had a great turnout. About 10-12 families with around 45+ people. Our first stop was in a classroom where a park ranger at the W. G. Jones State Forest give us a talk about woodpeckers, snakes, and safety in the woods.

The Jones State Park is actively trying to safe the endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker. This is the only woodpecker that makes its cavity (the hole where they nest) in a LIVE pine tree. He showed us an amazing video of how they band the baby woodpeckers. They build their cavities high in the tree. To protect their cavity, the woodpeckers make holes on the tree beneath their nest which makes the sap run out. The sap is very sticky and discourages "visitors." Above is a photo of a man-made cavity that they sometimes place in trees with cavities have been knocked down by storms or for whatever reason. They actually cut a hole out of the tree and use a special epoxy to glue it in place.
The park ranger then talked about the 5 different kinds of venemous snakes in our area. He actually catches these snakes to preserve to show classes! He said his job doesn't pay for his medical bills when he gets bit (which he has) because they've told him it is dangerous and not to do it, but he does it anyway.

Lastly, he talked about safety in the woods. For example, when you have to walk over a log in the wood, take a wide step on and a wide step off. Snakes love to curl up right near the log and will bite if frightened. And, never - never put your hand in any hole in a tree or in the ground - it's probably the home of an animal and he will try to defend himself!

He also talked about what to do if you get lost. Stay put! He said he's been on lots of search & rescues and the people they find the quickest are those who stay put. (Alexandra got to be the demonstrator.) He said if you're lost, there are 360 degrees in a circle and so 360 ways to go and only 1 is right and the other 359 are wrong. Great lesson to teach the kids as the rescue parties will start where they think the lost person is and they walk slowly - a lot slower than someone lost & scared and trying to get home!

A nest that had fallen - there's a piece of a broken egg shell in the nest, and I love the large piece of plastic trash the bird used as building material.

I believe this is a type of leaf-footed but, though I haven't made a positive identification yet. He was a beatiful pale lavender and black!

Beautiful lavender flowers - part of the butterfly garden which had dozens of butterflies

My favorite find of the day - which was pointed out to me; I didn't find it - a grey treefrog! It was a beautiful pale green, almost white. He was sitting in the butterfly garden on one of the leaves!

Cicada skin

A chrysalis - with the butterfly still in it! It was on a tree near the butterfly garden

A bunch of cicada skins on one tree! Later in the day, when we went to the second stop just about a half mile away, I only found one cicada shell! There were lots on this tree. Check out this site about a family who searches for cicadas before they shed their skin!

Our nature group "leader" teaching us how to watercolor a leaf - by tracing the shadow of the leaf so you don't break a fragile one! Then, she watercolored it and used the "wrong end" of a paint brush to draw in the veins. It was a neat effect!

Daddy Long Leg - I remember seeing tons of these at camp as a child and haven't seen any in years

I guess this is a gall on the trunk of a tree which has been broken in half

My photo doesn't do this justice - a tree had a huge break in it and there was lots & lots of sap. I'll see if anyone else in the group got a better photo.


Sherri said...

What a fun day!
Speaking of woodpeckers, yesterday the kids kept hearing a very fast pecking noise on our house. I told them that it was probably a woodpecker. When we looked out, we saw it as well as three more flying around and pecking on things. It was so cool!

Anonymous said...

I love seeing your nature trip!
So much to see, when you are looking.
My kids are always cathing those cicadas!

JacciM said...

Thanks for sharing your fun nature day :) The lavendar flowers are asters, btw. We have them wild all over our roadsides right now. Beautiful!

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