Nature Strollers

The mission of the Nature Strollers is to support parents and grandparents in their role as primary interpreters of nature for their families; to provide opportunities for families to enjoy unstructured time outdoors; to familiarize families with local trails, refuges, sanctuaries and preserves; and to develop networks among families with a common interest in nature.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Goose Pond Mountain Created Wetlands, 27 September 2006

Today the Nature Strollers outing boasted moms with children in strollers, children on foot, and in children in slings. Goose Pond was the ideal destination for this combination of environmentalists! Armed with nets and containers, the group went in search of creatures to study. Almost immediately Laurel caught a preying mantis. It was of a beautiful green and red shade, looking very autumnal. Everyone paused to admire it's color.
Some of the moms and children on foot noticed the remains of a turtle nest. We wondered if we'd see any turtles today. Along the boardwalk, the walkers spotted a grasshopper. It was easy to catch, and posed for up-close examination!
Laurel pointed out some milkweed poking through the railings... and it's inhabitant, the monarch caterpillar! It, too, tolerated our curiosity and the children loved looking at it and showing it to each other.
At the second pond, we discovered a baby painted turtle... perhaps the same one we found the other day. Again, the children found it hard to contain their excitement, and proudly showed off their find to each other and to the babies in the strollers. This is exactly what parents on our outings can expect... joy and discovery of our natural world!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Kenridge Farm, 18 September 2006

Laurel and Acadia led an after-school walk today for the families in Sebastian's class at his new school, and Kat, Lily, and Penelope decided to join. We met at Kenridge Farm, part of the Museum of the Hudson Highlands. One of Sebastian's classmates and her grandmother came prepared with their own butterfly net! Because it was unusually hot, we didn't walk too far today. In the hour or so we spent enjoying the day, we marveled at the number of insects we saw and were able to capture... in particular, the monarch caterpillars. Take a look at two of the creatures we were able to examine up close. They are gorgeous, and look perfectly content to enjoy their milkweed. Stay tuned for more pictures and for Laurel's field notes!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 16 September 2006

It was grandparents day as we gathered at the trailhead to take our walk at the Orange County Audubon Sanctuary. After the nonstop rain the day before, we were pleasantly surprised to have a gorgeous sunny afternoon for our stroll. Kat, Lily and Penelope were accompanied by the girls' Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Jim. Acadia, Sebastian and Laurel were chatting with OCAS president Lynn in the parking area. Alexis and her mom Dorothy joined us today, as did Alexis's Grandma and cousin Cheyenne. After checking to make sure we had nets, cameras, Cheerios and water, the group of 13 naturalists strolled out to see what we could see. Stay tuned for Laurel's field notes!

Friday, September 08, 2006

6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 08 September 2006

Laurel comments on today's walk...

Happy birthday, little snappers! That’s the song Kat sang as her twins, my toddler and I watched the newly hatched snapping turtles crawl across the trail. I saw the first baby making its way over the grass, and we stopped the stroller caravan immediately. The hatchlings were of a uniform charcoal color, and some still carried bits of black dirt from their underground nest on their backs. Their inch and a half long shells have a ridge down the center and the edges appear serrated. The scutes, or plates, on the backs of the shells are indistinct. None of the babies seemed to be in any hurry, though I imagine they were highly vulnerable to predators on land.
In our area there is a three-week span in September when snapping turtle hatchlings emerge. We were ready and on the lookout, having missed painted turtle hatchlings by ten or fifteen minutes earlier in the season. On this walk it was our good fortune to come across a nest surrounded by fourteen young turtles on their way to the water. Better yet, one turtle lingered at the lip of the hole from which the others had recently emerged. Peering inside the tunnel, Kat was also able to catch a glimpse of a little head peeping up at daylight for the very first time.
To help these little turtles avoid the bicycles that frequent the Heritage Trail and avoid predators, we scooped them up in the butterfly net and released them a few yards away in the water.
Over the past few months, various members of our Nature Strollers group have been witness to the ups and downs of snapping turtle life. Kat, her twins, and Grandma Barbara had heard the noisy thrashing of two snapping turtles mating. Six of us had seen the turtle tracks leading to newly covered nests. Kat and I discovered a mother snapper on her way back down the banks of a stream after laying her eggs. The whole Nature Strollers group has passed nest after nest that had been dug up by predators. Finally, five of us were present for the most exciting event of all, hatching time.
Because the behaviors and life cycles of wild creatures unfold throughout the seasons, it is the families that walk year-round that will be privy to their secrets. We’ve observed several events in snapping turtles' lives firsthand this year, but there are many behaviors to look forward to in the seasons to come.
News Release! Extra, extra... Read all about it!
Here is the article printed by The Chronicle! Click on the picture of the article to go to the print form on the web.