Thursday, June 5, 2014

Wye Marsh Home School Group Fieldtrip

We had a wonderful trip to Wye Marsh yesterday with our local home school group. I felt like I didn't take many pictures but after sorting through them last night I found I had oodles.

My girls are not used to getting up early and normally rise when their bodies tell them to, so the early wake up left everyone a little grumpy (I had one extra special grumpy bunny for the first while). We did all however after awhile snap out of it and enjoyed our day very much.

We were greeted in the parking lot by a large Canadian Goose family.
 Or who I thought was a large family of 17 babies but I learned that geese actually babysit each others babies and the parents go off to feed (and the babies get a 'play date'). I had no idea. See page 6 of this document from Ducks Unlimited (I can not find the original source on their website sorry).
We found footprints in the sand covered parts of the parking lot which we assume are Canada Geese prints but are not positive.

When we arrived we put on some natural bug spray that we made the day before (with some other home schoolers from this same group) so we could try it out today...can you believe I was hoping for mosquito's?!! I wanted to try out the spray...but alas it was a bug free day.
When we first arrived we had a bit of time and explored the displays inside. There were many reptiles and amphibians on display, as well as learning displays and information. There apparently is a bee hive area too that you can see the bees inside the hive but we missed it. Sierra had a lot of fun learning what sound each animal made.

Our group met at the covered pavilion and then split into two groups. One group went on a walk around the marsh first and the other went to the dipping pond and then we switched.

Our group headed to the pond first.

We caught a Dragonfly Nymph.


 The pond was pretty big and we all got to spread out around the edges and try to catch some critters.

There were also many frogs in the pond but we were asked not to touch them if we caught one as frogs breath through their skin and handling them too much is harmful to them. With the large group of people who visit daily they have to be very careful for the sake of the inhabitants.
The frog above I believe is a 'Green Frog'. The frog pictured below was such a bright green that I thought it was fake at first. I couldn't get a close enough picture before he hopped away so it's hard to tell and I can find nothing that resembles it in books or online. Perhaps its a mutant gene in the Green frog???
Someone caught a blood sucker. Sierra was quite taken with it at first and had her hands playing with it on the tub until I arrived at the table told her what it was. She quickly stepped back. I have never seen one swimming before so I found it interesting to watch. I just remember having to get leeches picked off of me as a kid but they were more plump and blob like when sucking then these free swimmers.
 It was much easier to examine up close from the confines of this little container.

As we riled up the pond bottom looking for little critters a pair of swans swam close by for an easy snack.

 Wonder why his head isn't white...just look at this picture below and your question is answered...

Here Aayla examines the Dragonfly Nymph that we caught.
Dragonfly Nymph in observation tub

This one is a Damselfly Nymph. They are quite different in size, shape and appearance.

 Want to see some great pictures of Dragonflies and Damselflies and learn about their differences? HERE is a great article.

After about an hour at the pond (boy that flew by fast) we headed out for our turn to walk a long the board walk.

There was Leatherwood  growing everywhere. This is a great species to know for survival as it's flexible branches make great cordage if stranded in the wilderness.
Leatherwood shrub
 I saw another one of these caterpillars but I still have not been able to identify it. Does anyone have a suggestion for a good book for caterpillars? Our butterfly books have very few caterpillars in them. Or can you identify it? Thanks to some members on the Brereton Field Naturalists Club on facebook it has been identified as a Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly.
Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillar
 The Honeysuckle was abundant and all in full bloom. We saw both white and pink varieties.
Our guide stopped at a little stream and picked up a rock to see what she could find.
 The rock she found was covered with many (for the life of me I can not remember the name) of these little clusters attached. There was one rock that also had a frog egg attached to it.
 We headed up to the top of the look out to get a birds eye view of the marsh.
 This picture reminds me of  Monet paintings. The tall tower in the distance is an Osprey perch.
The Ospreys were no where to be seen though.

 Then we headed along the board walk and saw many frogs and lily pads.

Yellow Pond Lily (Bullhead Lily)
 We were hoping to see some turtles and we got lucky as we were heading back to the pavilion for lunch. This turtle (and another one sunbathing too far away for a picture) were Painted Turtles. There are 8 species of turtles in Ontario and six of those species are either endangered or in threatened status. The Painted Turtle and the Snapping turtle are the two species not in danger...yet... Learn more HERE. The first five pages talk about the eight Ontario turtle species and the last three pages are full of information about turtle do's and don'ts, turtle threats and how you can help turtles.
Painted Turtle

Everyone watching the turtle swim by. 

 The beaver damn...
The girls both tried some Cattail leaves. Aayla loved them but Sierra... not so much.
I just liked how the canoe looked on the pond...

 I think my favourite place of the day was walking through these giant Ostrich ferns. We walked quickly through the area but I could have stayed taking pictures here for awhile.

 They were so tall, close to 4 feet in most places, so green and lush and beautiful in the sunlight.

We saw a couple Jack-in-the-pulpits.

 The girls also found a wonderful climbing tree. The hard part of being with a group tour is you have to follow and keep up with everyone. My girls would have been happy to play here for an hour at least...the five minutes didn't quite cut it.

 Aayla took quite the interest in these mushrooms growing all over this tree stump. Someday I would like to learn more about mushrooms.

 A few of the kids found some walking sticks to help on the trail.

After two hours of exploring the pond and walking the board walk and the trails it was time for lunch.

When lunch was finished we all headed to the birds of prey show. I must admit, I have seen a few of these birds of prey shows throughout the years and this was probably the best one I have ever attended. The staff member was very knowledgeable. She allowed for a lot of questions and answers and provided a lot of hands on learning for everyone too. The hour was very educational and enjoyed by everyone (I think).

Do to the amount of pictures I took during this show I have decided to break the birds of prey show into it's own post as this post is already quite long. You can view the Birds of Prey post HERE.
Blue-eyed grass
After the birds of prey show we headed out to a field to play some games. In this one pictured they were playing mosquito, fish, bear. It's similar to rock, paper, scissors in a sense that mosquito beats bear, bear beats fish, and fish beats mosquito. Working in two smaller groups divided into two, each group had to decide which creature they wanted to be. If they were a mosquito they would place out their arms like a long nose to bite something, or swim like fish, or growl like a bear. Which ever group beat out the other with their actions, they would then chase the loosing team trying to tag them before they got back to their safe spot. It was quite hilarious to watch the younger groups teams as they tried to figure out how to actually play the game but they did it!
Deciding the actions for the group
A bee collecting pollen from the honey suckle
Solomon's Seal
We had a wonderful day and enjoyed meeting many new people. Thanks to Caroline for organizing this trip and thanks to everyone else who came out as it was nice to have such a wonderful group of relaxed people to enjoy the day with.