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 22, 2008

Mt. Peter Hawk Watch and the Bellvale Creamery, 22 October 2009

What could be better than some homemade pumpkin ice cream at the Bellvale Creamery and a hike up Mt. Peter to the Hawk Watch? Not much, I say! After our ice cream snack we followed the blue blaze trail up to the Hawk Watch platform, where we spoke with some of the volunteers about their sightings. We then continued along the blue blaze trail down the mountain a bit. The boys were experts at locating the trail markers!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Goosepond Mountain Created Wetlands, 18 October 2008

We thought we'd find some Praying Mantis and some Monarch Butterfly caterpillars... but alas, there wasn't much out there today in terms of living creatures. Signs of their presence were everywhere, though. As the kids ran up and down the hill at the second pond they had to jump over a pile of Coyote scat... recognizable by the significant amount of hair inside. The kids had a blast releasing the seeds of the Milkweed plants into the breeze. Anderson proudly showed us more seeds and seed pods poking through the boardwalk railings. There were some lingering Wooly Alder Aphids on the branches of the alder near the path, but we didn't see any of the Harvester caterpillars. We eventually did see a Grasshopper (it landed right on Maya's sleeve).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rockland Nature Strollers, Children's Park, 14 October 2008

We joined the Rockland Nature Strollers on one of their first outings at Children's Park in Chestnut Ridge... and we had a wonderful time! The variety of tree species at this park was astounding, and seeing them in the fall is the best experience. Olivia is extremely knowledgeable about plants and we named them with her as we walked along the paved path to the playground. We wound around a pond and along the Pascack Brook, pausing to see if we could find anything under the dead logs along the path. When we reached the newly upgraded playground we sat and watched leaves fall as the kids explored the new slides, stairs, and "mountains." The Autumn is a beautiful time, no matter which county you visit. We can't wait to return.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Goosepond Mountain Created Wetlands, 01 October 2008

WOW!!!! It's fall, and sometimes we think that everything good in terms of being outside is over... after all, winter is coming. BUT, today, we had two of our most exciting finds. We've seen the Woolly Alder Aphids before... white cottony puffs congregating on the branches of the alder near the last pond. We paused on our way to check on them... puffing some ready puffballs and doing some "Jewelweed pops." Today, though, as we checked out the aphids, we noticed what looked like a much larger and bald aphid... and realized it was the larvae of the Harvester Butterfly! These butterflies lay their eggs in the midst of woolly aphids. Their larvae hatch and eat the aphids. This caterpillar is the only carnivorous caterpillar in North America. We could clearly see two larvae feasting on the aphids. The butterflies, with their short proboscis, pierce the bodies of aphids and drink their juices. How amazing to be in the right place at the right time to see these caterpillars!

As we marveled at this find, I happened to look down and see a bunch of bright stripes on the branch of what looked like a white Ironweed plant. As my eyes focused I noticed it was a caterpillar... and a marvelous one at that! Yellow, black, white, and orange were the colors of this caterpillar, which was about the same size as our girls' largest finger. We took turns photographing it, and then the girls (who were waiting patientl) took turns gently "petting" it. Laurel looked it up at home. This caterpillar becomes the Brown Hooded Owlet Moth. We hope this individual can beat the frost... it's coming sooner than we think.