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.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Goose Pond Mountain Boardwalk

A meadowhawk lands on Sebastian's white cap.
Even this late in the season, life presses on, the Nature Strollers spent some time watching red meadowhawk dragonflies mating at the pond.

As kids race ahead and I amble along with the parents, two startlingly white blobs against the gray bark of an alder growing near the third pond attract my attention. Close inspection reveals a number of wooly alder aphids. These insects look like little white fuzzballs. They manufacture waxy white secretions that covers their bodies in order to protect themselves from predators. We notice that several ants and yellow jackets attend the aphids. Turns out, they are looking for the honeydew secretions that aphids produce at the ends of their abdomens. This sweet product of the tree sap they consume is worth so much to the ants that they will often guard aphids from predators in return for the tasty liquid.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Goose Pond Mountain Boardwalk

Accompanied by the sound of a couple of spring peepers, confused by the spring-like weather, and the lone call of a gray tree frog, the Nature Strollers were disheartened to see that the toad pond is still dried up, and the second pond is within days of the same fate. The third pond is down by half.

Dakota ventured out on the muck and found a puddle full of wiggling fish and tadpoles, one of the strollers, with a particularly good arm from softball practice, tossed him a net and he rescued a great number of the stranded vertebrates. These he dropped into the third pond, where they stand a better chance, provided some rain comes eventually. Many of the invertebrates we typically find in the ponds are probably dormant, under the mud and waiting for the rain.
We caught a clouded sulphur butterfly on the far side of the third pond, and found an adult praying mantis in the pine trees.

The stinkhorn mushrooms are still visible in the parking lot and it is necessary to step carefully when trying to reach the car.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Goose Pond Mountain Old Road, 01 October 2007

Why haven't we hiked here before??? Perhaps the somewhat steep hill was a deterrent, but Kat was easily able to conquer it pushing two toddlers in a jogger... she barely broke a sweat! Within about five feet of walking along the paved Old Road trail, turning over the first log we saw, Laurel spotted a Red Eft and an American Toad that had bedded down for the upcoming winter. Overturning more logs yielded a Red-backed Salamander, tons of centipedes and millipedes (including a Flat-backed millipede), and various other curious unidentified insects. We also spotted a Spring Peeper and a Wood Frog. Ginny had been telling us about this place for months... now we know why! We will be frequenting this spot before the winter slows us down!