Sunday, August 27, 2017

Introducing. . . . .Birdies & Turties Family Nature Club

Hello everyone!

My family loves nature and loves friends. Why not combine the two? Jillian and I proudly introduce Birdies & Turties (yep, that's the spelling), our family nature club.

We look forward to finding friends and families with a similar passion for getting together to enjoy nature as one big, happy family.

Our idea of a family nature club is to regularly schedule get-togethers on the calendar at various locations throughout the area. It's all about connecting with each other and with nature in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

Birdies & Turties will have our inaugural event at a time and place to be determined in October. Please LIKE our Facebook page to stay updated. More importantly, consider joining the club and getting back to nature.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact Peter at

See you in October!

Glacier Hills County Park - Hubertus

With tomorrow being the official start of my twelfth year of teaching, it was great to get out to the trails one more day with my family. We decided on visiting a new park, Glacier Hills County Park in Hubertus. Embry, a self-proclaimed "nature-ist" wasted not time finding her first wildlife, spotting three different insects in the grasses and shrubs next to our parking space.

We took a trail connected to the lot and started our new adventure. As usual, Embry took on her hike leader responsibilities and set the pace on this beautiful set of trails.

Early in the hike, encountered a bench with a special section that stored a notebook for visitors to record notes and observations from their visit. Embry made sure to write her name and put the "clue" back in the "mystery box." For a good chunk of the remainder of the hike, she searched for new clues.


 Along the way. our little "nature-ist" spotted many critters. From bugs to turkeys, woodpeckers to frogs, it is always a proud moment to see her notice and get excited about the natural world around her.  She is an especially talented snake spotter and a gorgeous garter snake in the grass. I was thankful the serpent was nice enough to stay still for a picture before slithering off at warp speed

After watching her newest reptile discovery slither out of sight, she lifted her spirits with some log jumping before heading into the pine forest. Here, an even more exciting adventure was waiting for us.

Anytime my family runs across a stick shelter, we are going to play with it and add to it. Today was no exception.

Needing a bit of a break, we came across a deserted cabin and a pump. Embry desperately wanted to try it out but she didn't quite have the strength. . .yet. The next time we visit this amazing park, I have a feeling she might be able to muster enough energy to get it going. I guess we will find out then.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Tyke Hike #42 - Cushing Memorial Park

The first ever Tyke Hike at Cushing Memorial Park in Delafield was a success, but not for the reason I had intended.

After reading the cute Too Many Frogs, by Sandy Aster, all eight hikers went out on a frog finding expedition. We searched the boardwalk. We scoured the streams. We looked in the cattails, or hot dog plants. Unfortunately our findings did not match the title of our book as we didn't find too many frogs. In fact, we didn't find any at all.

the lack of amphibians didn't spoil the fun. I fact, I think the adults were more disappointed in the lack of froggy friends.  The kids were too busy splashing in the shore, stump jumping, and rock hopping.

Being a kindergarten teacher, I know that things don't always go as planned. However, I also know that these unplanned and unexpected happenings often produce better results than could have been planned anyways.

We'll see you on September 23rd at the UW-Waukesha Field Station and the Waterville Segment of the Ice Age Trail.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tyke Hike #41 - Hartland Library

It was a beautiful Monday evening for a tyke hike in one of Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail communities. Eight outdoor enthusiasts kicked off the 41st Tyke Hike with a  tour of Hartland's Public Library and its newest addition: the Ice Age information center.

After comparing heights to ice age creatures, exploring various ice age resources, and enjoying some ice age action figures, we read Lisa Wheeler's awesome story Mammoths on the Move before moving on out to the trail.

With this being a stroller-friendly section of trail. Embry assumed her usual post as hike leader while Oakley enjoyed a ride with me and Kevin, a fellow volunteer, pushed our stroller of supplies.

We walked from the library towards a  nearby park. Along the way, we found a few spots for some natural exploration. We also checked in on an area of the trail that had done some garlic mustard pulling earlier in the year. It was awesome to see how the work we had done earlier in the year provided dramatic improvements to the landscape. I envision a service-themed garlic mustard pull Tyke Hike next year.

Normally, we like to trek down a bit further on the trail where we can sit by and/or wade in the Bark River. However, with the large amount of rainfall this summer, the water was a bit too high for a dip. We managed to have some fun killing time at the park instead.

Throughout the hike, information was shared about many Ice Age Trail related topics, including Ice Age Trail Communities,  the Blazin' Babes, the 1,000 Miler Club, and our chapter's Walk the Wauk hiking incentive program. We also discussed some quirky tidbits about the trail, including enjoying the scenic Ice Age Alley that cuts right through the heart of downtown Hartland.

Our hike wrapped up back at the library, where we viewed the outdoor Ice Age display, focusing in on glacial landforms that are scattered all throughout the Badger State, thanks to glaciation.

Even though the numbers were low, the enthusiasm and fun was high.