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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kenridge Farm, 27 March 2007

What a BEAUTIFUL day! We met this morning at Kenridge Farm to explore the grounds with the Nature Strollers families. We welcomed a large number of new families as well has our "regulars." Kenridge Farm was buzzing with life... Tree Swallows zoomed overhead, swooping in for spectacularly close-up views of their white necks and bellies and shiny irridescent backs. A bluebird was spotted near the start of the path we were walking along. As we neared the ponds we could see the "ususal suspects," Mallard Ducks and Canada Geese, but we also caught sight of some Ring-Neck Ducks in the water with them. Two hawks, most likely Red-Tailed Hawks, soared overhead. We quickly shed much of our outerwear as we walked along the path, grinning and thinking, "Spring is surely here!"

As we reached the first platform we could hear the sounds of the Red-Winged Blackbirds, another sure sign of spring. Looking through binoculars and zoom camera lenses, we spotted a Green-Winged Teal on the second pond. We decided to walk down the path towards that and the other smaller ponds, pausing to admire the soft budding pussywillows and get a close-up look at a muskrat house. As some of us lingered near the pussywillows to listen to the Red-Wings, our group splintered, and we got to know our new families. We talked about our experiences with introducing our children to the wonders of nature, sharing tips and ideas. It was exciting to hear one of our new "Future Naturalists" (a girl of about 3 years of age) say, "Wow! There are so many things here in these different types of habitat!" Smiles broke out as she pushed her own "babies" in their stroller, pausing to let them "admire" the pussywillow, too.

One of our families had trekked ahead, walking the edge of the pond past the second viewing platform. Quietly they walked, then returned excitedly telling the rest of us they had seen two muskrat plop into the water just ahead of them. We could see their heap-like houses in the ponds, and Laurel pointed out a flattened level area that they use as a feeding platform. As we turned back towards our cars, a few of us caught a glimpse of another muskrat scampering along the path opposite us. As if waiting for us to look in its direction, the flycatching Phoebe began bobbing its tail and the father in our group today heard it's familiar "fee-bee" call (from where it got its name). This is one of the first birds to return in the spring. It was a special bird to see, as it shared its name with one of the "Future Naturalists" on our walk today!

After roughly an hour and a quarter, we had circled back to the parking lot. We disseminated some more information about the Nature Strollers and Kenridge Farm, and we packed up and headed home... happy to have experienced such a wonderful day with wonderful people.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Glenmere Lake, 12 and 13 March 2007

Could spring be coming? Could it be here already? A number of families joined us at the Glenmere Lake Recreation Area in Chester/Florida for a walk outside. Our usual trails and parks were still covered in snow and ice, so we instead walked along the less travelled country road on which the recreation area can be found. Evidence of the onset of spring was here... we saw fresh rectangular woodpecker holes in trees (the pileated woodpecker was probably the culprit), a flock of robins on the field next to the old stone house, and small streams of melting snow running alongside the road. Soon it will be time to swap our winter hats for our spring sunhats! We have also decided that this will be the location of the Nature Strollers Family Gathering that we are beginning to plan. We would like to organize a day in June for families to enjoy the outdoors and have the opportunity to socialize with each other as well as explore ther natural environment. With the lake, a close-by pond, wooded trails, the pavilion, benches and tables, we think this would be the perfect place to host the gathering. We'll keep you informed as we finalize the details!