nature field day

As promised, here’s a brief report on the nature field day that my friend, Eric Snyder, and I led at the Richmond Conservation Area on May 28, 2007. We spent much of the day exploring the nature trails with twenty of Lisa Hetherington’s science students from Bell High School. I believe this was our fourth outing with her students and, as always, it was an interesting and fun experience.

This was my first extended visit to the Richmond Conservation Area site. It’s definitely a spot that I will return to. The above panorama shot is of one of two large “ponds” of similar size (click on it for a larger view). The ponds are actually sewage lagoons that were decommissioned about 20 years ago when the site was no longer needed for that purpose. A conservation area now encompasses the lagoons and several acres of forest and meadows bordering on a small section of the Jock River. On this day, we followed a trail along the high berms leading between the lagoons, then through a meadow and forested area to have lunch beside the river. Along the way, we stopped to observe birds, plants, insects, frogs, and even a couple of muskrat carcasses found on the berm between the lagoons. Tree and Barn Swallows were putting on a great show as they skimmed the water while catching midges and other flying insects over the lagoons. It was an excellent day for our visit and we managed to see quite a good variety of creatures.

Rather than me writing much more about the day, I’ve excerpted a few passages from the field notes that I asked students to write during their lunch break. If you would like to see more photos of some of the flora and fauna – consisting mainly of insects, frogs and toads – check out the photos in this online gallery that I’ve just put up.

Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens) held by one of the students

Habronattus decorus jumping spider found by students (side view).

Stratiomys sp. – a bee mimic species of Soldier Fly.

American Toad (Bufo americanus) found along trail through meadow.

Habronattus decorus jumping spider.

That kind of says it all, don’t you think?

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11 Responses to “nature field day”

  1. Wayne Says:

    This is so cool, Bev. What a good collection of discoveries!

    I may have mentioned this before. When I work with college level students taking some kind of science course, many will offer, almost shyly, some kind of experience like this that they had and that they remember very clearly. They might even refer back to it several times over the course of our semester together. These are very important things to them.

    Very nice decorus jumping spider, too!

  2. Cathy Says:

    Just sweet and delightful – everything from the anthropomorphizing to the faded nail-polish on the young hand holding the frog. Gosh, youth is precious – and not always wasted on the young :0)

  3. Laura Says:

    I enjoyed reading their field notes, Bev. Must have been a fun day for all of you.

  4. Dave Says:

    Fun post.

  5. bev Says:

    Wayne – I very much agree that these kinds of outings are important – especially for students who haven’t spent much time observing nature. In the past, I’ve discovered that some students have never touched a frog, are terrified of spiders, have never seen a crayfish and didn’t know they live in our creeks, etc… I think a day of field work is a good way to inspire just about anyone to spend a bit more time looking at the natural world.

    Cathy – How true! (-:

    Laura – Yes, I believe it was a fun day for everyone. It was nice to see many of the students putting some serious effort into looking for insects, spiders and frogs.

    Dave – Thanks! The “field notes” were a great read, so it was easy to find some nice excerpts.

  6. cloudscome Says:

    Fabulous post! I love the photos and the notes by students. What a great day.

  7. robin andrea Says:

    I remember a post you did a while back about how important it was to get kids out there into the field. This post shows why. What a great experience for them. I do love that last note.

  8. celeste Says:

    HI! what a great day! It’s great even to get the kids out in the fresh air and sunshine on some unpaved, unlandscaped ground. Love how you put the handwritten notes. May the kids have many more field trips to come!

  9. bev Says:

    cloudscome – Thanks very much! Yes, it was a great day!

    robin – I particularly liked that last note as well. You never really know how these things are going to go. When the students first arrived on the bus, I overheard one of them say, “There’s nothing here!” — I suppose meaning that there was no nature center or anything “of note”, and I did a little mental groan. I do think it’s important to do these kinds of outings so that young people get a chance to see that there’s more “out there” than suburbia.

    celeste – Yes, it ws a great day, and I loved the handwritten notes as well. I know how difficult it is getting to be as far as organizing these field trips, so I appreciate that there are teachers like Lisa who will take the time to make them happen.

  10. Leslie Says:

    Been a while since I visited and it’s great seeing your superb posts again. Photography and information are both stellar.

    I loved the hand written notes in this one, especially the one with the “RIP” and drawings on it.

  11. bev Says:

    Leslie – Thanks! I really liked the RIP note too – very amusing!