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.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Goose Pond Mountain Created Wetlands, 14 July 2008

Kat talks a bit about today...
It had been a rainy morning and we weren't sure if there was going to be more rain or some sunshine today, so we didn't want to send out an email about an outing in the event we might have to cancel it. I had been in Warwick all morning (dropping off the second domestic rabbit that had been abandoned at the state park; I finally caught it!) and playing at Pennings Farm Market with Ian and the girls. Laurel called to say that she and Sybil would be bringing their kids to the wetlands because it seemed to have cleared up. We did a lunch-on-the-go and met them there about 20 minutes after they arrived. The kids had a blast playing with sticks and stones and mud, and we talked about camera equipment for a while... Laurel envying my camera as I was envying Sybil's. We met up with Roberta (we hoped she wasn't after birds because we were a loud group today), and we set out to look at our favorite Milkweed by the boardwalk. We passed the place on the boardwalk that had been hit by lightning; it still smelled like charred wood! Olivia stole the show today as she located a Monarch Butterfly, pointing it out as it flitted around her. She also gently caressed a Longhorn Milkweed Beetle in Sybil's hand, leaning over to give it a kiss before Sybil placed it back on the Pokeweed plant. Under the leaves of the Milkweed the Tussock Moth caterpillars had hatched, and were voraciously devouring the leaves on which they were residing. Nathan and Anderson caught another toadlet, and it was funny to hear them giggle as it hopped and tickled Nathan's arm trying to escape from Anderson's grasp. Just before we hit our cars Laurel spotted a beautiful crab spider on the leaf of a tree. It was bright green, like the leaf, but it had a gorgeous red and orange decoration on its back that resembled a face or a skull. She held the branch and the leaf steady so I could get a shot and it almost crawled right onto her hand.

I had mentioned to Laurel and Sybil that I had been at my friend Teresa's and Mike's earlier (picking up the rabbit they had so graciously held for me overnight), and while I was there Teresa had pointed out a very interesting type of caterpillar. Two of them had taken up residence in her garden. They were eating some of the flowers in her garden and had cut off pieces of these flowers and glued them onto their backs, deliberately camouflaging themselves and virtually disappearing into the flower. I took a few photographs as I had never seen this type of caterpillar before. I showed my photographs to Laurel and Sybil and we marveled over the stroke of genius these creatures had demonstrated. Later that afternoon, Laurel called me with the identification: Teresa's caterpillar was a Camouflage Looper, soon-to-be the Wavy-leaf Emerald Moth (Synclora aerata). After the girls went down for a nap, I took Laurel over to Teresa's flower garden so she could see and photograph these caterpillars for herself.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Glenmere Lake, 08 July 2008

Today, on an afternoon impromptu jaunt, Sybil and Laurel spotted some Indian Pipes at Glenmere Lake, so they called a "get here quick" outing at the Florida Recreation Area. Indian Pipes are plants, but they look like fungi. They are unique plants in that they do not contain chlorophyll. They are parasitic plants (specifically myco-heterotrophic), getting their energy from another living organism. I call them piggyback parasites; they get their energy from another parasite that gets its energy from the host. Fascinating! Indian Pipe hosts are certain fungi that are symbiotic (specifically mycorrhizal) with trees. Mycorrhizal describes the specific give-and-take relationship of a fungus and the roots of plants. The fungus gets specific carbohydrate foods from the plant, and in return provides the plant a broader surface area from which to absorb water and nutrients. These ghostly plants are beautiful, and usually come in white and a pale pink. We spotted a bluish-purple variety and took tons of photographs. On our way back to the picnic tables we picked a few lowbush blueberries and saw a golden-yellow fungus peeking out of the dirt. We then sat at the edge of the lake and enjoyed our snack.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Kenridge Farm, 01 July 2008

Hot but happy, we walked along to see if the Milkweed was in bloom. Acadia assumed a leadership role as she took Penelope under her wing, pointing out the many butterflies and dragonflies zipping from flower-to-flower. On our way back up the hill Lily made sure we were on the right path, double-checking each trail marker we passed.