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, October 25, 2006

6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 25 October 2006

It started out as a questionable day for strolling... but we decided to leave the warmth of our cars, and we're so glad we did! Four families braved the wacky weather (one minute sunny and warm, the next cold, windy and almost sprinkling) to enjoy some of the last outdoors time we might see for a while. Ebony and Queen brought along their furry friend Jamaica, certainly the largest (and most well-behaved) creature we have seen walking on the path!
The Sanctuary did not let us down today. Almost immediately as we stepped onto the path, a great blue heron took flight and soared through the trees over the stream. As we walked, we saw (seeming to pose for us) a female northern harrier. This beautiful bird periodically rode the gusts alongside us on the way out and on the way back to our cars, scaring away the waterfowl resting on the lake as she looked for lunch. Though this picture is the only clear one we got of the bird, there is a tree in the foreground that makes it hard to see.
On the lake we saw a flock of American coots, a black duck-like bird with an interesting white bill. These birds will be present on-an-off here at the Sanctuary throughout the winter, and are diving birds... so they are fun to watch. We were also lucky to be on the path just as roughly 100 Canada geese came in for a landing on the lake... presumably to take a rest before they continue their long journey south for the winter.
We spotted one white goose among the crowd, and although we assumed it was a lone snow goose, it did not seem to have the black feathers on the wings... so it is most likely a domestic goose. We'll be sure to go back to the Sanctuary again soon, armed with binoculars to watch the antics of the coots and to try and identify any interesting hitchikers among the Canada geese!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Kenridge Farm, 24 October 2006

The Nature Strollers led a walk today for the Museum of the Hudson Highlands at Kenridge Farm. It was a cold, blustery day, but a nice number of families showed up! We had walkers, babies in jogging strollers, babies in regular strollers, a baby in an infant carrier, and a baby in a mommy... due in next month! The pace was comfortable and accomodated everyone. Acadia even ventured out of her stroller to "lead" a walk, just like her mommy!
Even though we are nearing winter, a nice number of birds were seen at the farm. Bluebirds, sparrows, and goldfinches were twittering around in the grasses. A bluebird even posed for us on one of the signposts. We also saw a red tailed hawk alight from the trees and fly over the wooded path.
We enjoyed trying to identify the many grasses, trees, weeds, and leftover farm plants we saw as we walked. The diversity of life present throughout the year at Kenridge Farm is amazing.
Just as we were finishing our walk, we stopped to admire the sun shining on the silvery milkweed. This photograph doesn't even do it justice!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Moonbeams Preserve, 22 October 2006

Stay tuned for a write-up of the trip to Moonbeams Preserve!

Friday, October 20, 2006

6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary and Goose Pond Created Wetlands, 20 October 2006

It was "Two by Two" day for the Nature Strollers today! We had two outings on this gorgeous warm fall day.
At 6 1/2 Station Road, two moms (Suzanne and Kat), two boys (twins Jonathan and Nathan), and two girls (twins Lily and Penelope) met to see what there was at the Sanctuary. They were so excited to see a juvenile common snapping turtle... right on the path! Interestingly, the common snapping turtle was recently named the State Reptile for New York. Everyone stood for a while and looked at this state representative, wondering how old it was and if it, too, was out for a nature walk. Common snapping turtles mate and lay eggs in the spring and summer, and their hatchlings emerge in early September. We have learned (through experience!!) that some common snapping turtles can grow to 18 inches in length. This individual was roughly 6 or 8 inches in length, suggesting that it was a juvenile. Perhaps it was looking for its own territory to overwinter. We will have to do some research to learn more about these creatures, as they are proving to be a large part of our walks!
Later, for an impromptu last-minute outing (to make the most of the beautiful autumn day), Kat and the girls went out again to meet Laurel, Sebastian and Acadia at Goose Pond. They heard first and then saw a belted kingfisher (the picture didn't come out so well), which is a neat-looking bird that is commonly found fishing for food around ponds, lakes, and other wet areas. Kat once saw one at the catch basin at the Palisades Center Mall! The group also spotted a very large grasshopper, which Acadia delighted in announcing to everyone ("hopper! hopper!"). Sebastian befriended a cream-colored fuzzy caterpillar, which we will need to identify. They also caught some spotted tadpoles in the two larger ponds, and Acadia seemed to decide she wanted to kiss one. Perhaps she is looking for her prince! Does it count if you kiss a tadpole, or do you have to kiss a frog??