Friday, November 2, 2012

Paletta Park Nature Walk with HUGE Homeschool Group! (and at the end, a little of "Sandy")

Hello again!
     Today we went on a nature walk with our homeschool group. Believe it or not, this wasn't everyone! All told, there were 46 people on our walk not including our guides! It was an amazing turn out.
I had been in touch with someone from the education department at the Hamilton Naturalists Club. She is a lovely woman, her name is Jen. Jen is wonderful. She arranged for us to have a hike at Paletta with a local birder to show us around and to point things out to us. The birder who was supposed to come couldn't so two very lovely ladies brought us around instead. It was a wonderful time, and I can't wait to do something like this again. I'll post the pictures and take you through it.
First up, this is our group. If you count, there are 46 people there! Although, I'm not there, I'm taking the picture, one other mom is taking a picture to my left and Jen (from the Hamilton Naturalist Club) is taking a picture to my right.  There are 11 homeschool families represented here!
This is Jen crouched down. She's telling the kids that they need to be careful when they want to handle something they find that's wild. She started off talking about picking up frogs and salamanders and snakes. I had expected her to say something about not picking them up, but that's not what she said. :-) She told them that animals in the forest have sensitive skin and because of that, they need to make sure they have dirty hands before they touch them! She told them that they need to be touch with dirty hands because when they rub their hands in the dirt in the forest that they're in then they'll be touching the animals with the earth that they run through all the time anyway. After they are done handling the animals, THEN they can wash their hands!
 The two ladies behind her are our birders! Elaine and Arlene. They are birders with the Hamilton Naturalist Club. They were kind enough and patient enough to bring 46 people, 33 of which were children on a nature walk to look for birds.

The hike begins. At this point the kids are actually being amazingly quiet. They were good kids. When we got within sight of the beach (actually, it was a little before that) they got excited about seeing each other and got exuberant, but they were pretty good kids on the whole.
Here is little Eva. This is her new bear hat. She likes to wear it EVERYWHERE, but it was getting hot on her, it didn't stay on long after this. She was kind of fussy when she didn't have raisins in her hand and to be honest, toward the end, she was kind of fussy anyway.

They saw a female Cardinal! Mike got a picture of her, here it is!
This is a beautiful area. The willows here are exceptionally pretty. In the spring and summer this place is greener than most. Right now though, it's a little green, a little yellow and mostly brown.
Here is most of the group. I'm not sure what they're looking at, I hadn't caught up yet, but whatever it was, there were several kids that were very interested in getting VERY close to the water to see it! Strangely, there were no moms freaking out about that. Not sure if it's a homeschooling thing or if it's just because they weren't worried that they would fall in.
There's Sam! Hi Sam!!
There were some VERY, VERY, VERY excited children who found these! They were still alive and they were fascinated! It was hard for them to leave them there for the birds. Just think of what some of us moms would have found in pockets had their not been limitations on what was coming back home with us!
This was an AMAZING scope! You could really see far with it.
Here's Jen. She is a wonderful lady. She set a lot of this up for us and I truly appreciate it.
Now there were lots of things that fascinated the kids today, but dead things seemed to rule the day. They found dead fish, dead craw fish, dead something else..... dead stuff. They got so excited! I was trying to take a picture of Caleigh here, but the camera was focused behind her. Guess what they're poking at! I'm not sure, but it was dead!
Something else that they found especially fun to do was to climb on rocks. I'm sure they all spent a LOT of energy today and much of it was climbing rocks. You'll see.
This is Lynae (on the left) and Michelle. Michelle is one of our leaders in our homeschool group. She also makes AMAZING cakes! She has made every birthday cake this year for each of our children. They've LOVED them! It may end up being a habit. :-) Lynae is new to our group and to homeschooling. She's from the States and will be heading back sooner than we would like, we're glad to have her and her family here with us while we can though.
Here's one of the dead craw fish. It was neat to look at and plenty big!
This is Jackie. She has  kids. 4 of them are boys. She is a wonderful lady and it's a pleasure to know her.
Beautiful clouds!
Isn't she beautiful?!
This is her mom, it's where she gets it from. Claudia is a wonderful lady and a pleasure to know.
Here is Lynae with Karen. Karen is another of the leaders of our group. She brought two kids with her today. Her kids are great friends to ours, especially Sam. They are a wonderful family, it's an honor to know them.
Look at those clouds! I love the way light plays on and around them. Pictures just can't capture the beauty.
Eva spent a lot of time being discouraged that that rock was about as tall as she was. She REALLY wanted to climb it, but she wasn't allowed to. There were large crevices in between the rocks and it just wasn't a safe place for her to be. She didn't seem to care though, she wanted up!
Another, smaller dead craw fish. I'm not sure HOW they found all these dead things, but they sure weren't afraid to touch them!
This robin was hiding in a tree. It was VERY quiet. There were hawks flying around, about 5 of them and this little beauty seemed intent on not attracting attention to herself.
See the hawk? He had friends and they like little birds among other things.
Here's Jackie's youngest cutie!
Here's our pretty little Rora. Isn't she a beautiful little girl? She's smart too. Love you Rora!
Here was the best looking man there. I got his number. ;-) The kids get their good looks from him. :-D
This is Christine. She is an unofficial leader of the group. She has 3 very smart, very talented daughters. She brought the youngest one with her today. She was VERY loaded down with things. You can see her wearing 2 pairs of binoculars and a camera and carrying at least one bag besides. She wasn't using both pairs of binoculars herself, but at this point her daughter might have been among those children who were trying to use sticks to dissect a dead salmon on the rocks.
These pictures were taken by Mike and Sam. The dead fish wasn't something I managed to get down to. I was talking to some of the other moms, trying to keep Eva calm and taking pictures of other things.
This is Larry, he's Karen's husband. He's nice too. He's looking out of the amazing scope at something in the water.
These are Mute Swans. They have black beaks. It's kind of funny, because there were trumpeter swans swimming REALLY close to them! The irony. :-D
Trumpeter Swans! They have orange beaks! I'm not sure what else is different about them, but that is an obvious one. They weren't that far from their friends, the Mute Swans.
And here is my last photo. Everyone heading back to the cars. The next ones are  Mike's and Sam's. When those are done, there will be some that Mike and Sam took of when Sandy was blowing in, or of whatever she managed to get up this far.
Not sure what this was a skeleton of, but it was dead and the kids were fascinated.
Another couple of dead things.
Trumpeter Swan.
The kids found fossils in the rocks. Here are some of the pictures that Sam took of them.
And that's the end of what happened today. It was a great day and we had a ton of fun with everyone who came. We can't thank you all enough for coming and being a part of our great day. You are all very special and I am honored to know them all.

Here is what managed to come up here from Sandy. These first pictures are of when the winds are making their way up the winds in these first pictures of the beach are before Sandy remnants actually got here. The winds were only peaking at 40mph.

Doesn't that almost look like a heart in the sand?
Eva didn't really like the wind in her face. She enjoyed the beach though!
These next pictures are of the next day, after the bad winds went through. We didn't get as much rain as they originally thought we would. Thankfully. The highest wind gust recorded up here in this area that night was 58mph. My silly Mike decided around 11:30pm that night that he was going to go out and explore, being the weather man that he is. He was out and walking around when that 58mph gust went through. He was lovin' it!
And there you have it ladies and gentlemen! I hope you could tell what a great time we've had. The power didn't go out here, but the cable sure spent a lot of time out. Another good reason for a corded landline and not just cable phone.

Have a wonderful day and night. God bless you all.

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