I completed another training session at the Wehr Nature Center today. We learned about different habitats from a kindergarten perspective. Food, Water, Shelter and Space contribute to the supportive habitat that living organisms need. We talk about the animals and birds who live in the Wetland, Woodland, and Grassland areas surrounding the nature center. The kids meet the live animals that live in the building and then go out on the trails to explore. I have so much to learn! I don’t have any problem imagining the curiosity of the young and the excitement of discovery. Here’s a sample of what I found today:
Scilla siberica scattered all along the wooded trails by the pond.
The wetland wildlife is really interesting to me. There are beavers and muskrats and mink around, but they don’t pose for pictures very often. We see their tracks and traces and homes, though. The turtles do sometimes pose nicely. They keep their distance by staying in the pond, so they don’t rush away as readily.
Painted turtles looking for warmth
Yesterday, when I didn’t have my camera, we found a baby turtle in the stream bed. It was only the size of a silver dollar. Today, though, I found a biggie. The snapping turtle. This mud monster has very powerful jaws. No teeth, but it is reputed to be able to snap a broom handle in half.
Unfortunately, my camera is just the point and shoot kind with a standard zoom lens. The snapping turtle looked like a boulder out there on the log, with a painted turtle a respectful distance away. I looked through my binoculars to convince myself that yes, that was a turtle, with its front legs and head down in the water, keeping its shell balanced.
Kids get a thrill from anything with an “Ewwww!” factor, and skunk cabbage provides the right stuff. It looks weird, and it stinks. I broke off a leaf and passed it around. It’s more earthy and green veggie-smelling than actual skunk spray, but it is reminiscent of that unforgettable odor.
I had the most fun today with our American Toad, whom we call Savannah. She has two special tricks: she walks and she eats. Well, a toad doesn’t hop; it kind of waddles. And Savannah is FAT. She also puffs herself out to look more threatening. Her movement is just comical to me. She doesn’t see very well, so she has to eat food that is moving. We feed her live crickets. I didn’t get a photo of her today, but I did get down on the floor on my belly to watch her, like a 4-year old would. That picture is in my mind instead.
If I could have another life, I would choose to be David Attenborough. The Nature Neighborhoods he got to explore absolutely overwhelm me. I am in awe of a common toad, and he’s paddling around with platypuses! Comparisons don’t matter, actually. Everything is spectacular when you pay attention.