Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Timberwolf Trail - Week 29 - 2016-17 Edition - Retzer Visit #7

On our second to last trip to the Retzer Nature Center this school year, we focused on life in the water. From ponds to streams, we chatted about the water cycle and how it impacts ecosystems at the center.

Starting off together, the class got a preview of the day and a review of some important information. It wasn't long before the four classes split into their groups and headed to their first watery learning area.

My class kicked off at the basin, a man-made area meant to keep runoff out of a natural stream. Here, we discussed salamanders, cattails, fairy shrimp, before meeting the smallest painted turtle I had ever seen.

Then, after a quick walk through the woods, we arrived at the woodlands stream.

Here, we used spoons, ice cube trays, and magnifiers to closely examine a variety of macro invertebrates caught by the Retzer teaching naturalists

Next up was the pond. On the way, we found a duck egg in the grass.

The class was trained on how to get "the good muck" so that we could search for life. We certainly found a good deal of it.

Besides a variety of invertebrates including damselfly larva and dragonfly nymphs, we found leeches, a small green frog, and even a fish. Most impressive was that no one fell in.

Our final stop was the prairie stream. Though it was a bit muddy getting there, it was a nice place to wrap up a day of learning about life in the water. It was a small area, so only a few students enjoyed it at once. The rest were given nets to sweep for insects. Though some were distracted by a patch of garlic mustard, I was happy to see them take an interest in pulling it and helping the center get rid of this invasive species.

After four wonderful stations, it was time for a nice outdoor lunch before some natural play.

On our post-lunch hike together, we went up to the vista overlook, stopping to look at area that had a prescribed burn earlier in the season. We talked a bit about why people use fire to help restore the land and talked about how much different this area would look like during our final visit in June.

Then, we wrapped up another wonderful nature day with some tree climbing, shelter-building, and natural playing before stopping in to the center to say goodbye to our animal friends and heading home.

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