Tag Archives: Delaware Nature Society

Animal Travelers

By Rebecca Wadman, Education Intern

Every animal needs to be able to find its way from one place to another for food, shelter, and reproduction. But animals can’t make maps or use GPS like we can, so how do they find their way across large distances?

Pigeon pair - Photo by Derek Stoner

Pigeon pair – Photo by Derek Stoner

Pigeons will fly hundreds of miles to make their way back to their nests, and so people have been using them to carry messages from one place to another for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks used them to announce the winners of the Olympics, doctors used them to deliver medication, and soldiers in both World Wars used them to send messages back to base.

In order to find their home nests from wherever they are, pigeons rely on a complicated combination of all their senses. They use the sun as a compass to help point themselves in the right direction, and then they use hearing, sight, and even smell to direct them home. Not only that, but pigeons have the ability to sense magnetic fields, which can tell them which way is north, and also how far up or down their flight is tilted.

Bees on Purple Coneflower - Photo by Katie Harrison

Bees on Purple Coneflower – Photo by Katie Harrison

Honeybees not only know how to find their way through their environment, they also know how to give other bees directions!

A honeybee can tell the others in her hive where to find a location. This can be the location of flowers, water, or even a new hive site. She does this by dancing. If she dances straight up towards the top of the hive, the location that she’s trying to point the others to is straight towards the sun. If she dances straight down, she’s trying to point the others directly away from the sun.

Bees also use scent to communicate. As they dance, they spread the scent of whatever flower they just visited to the other bees in the hive. This helps the other bees find the flowers by looking for a similar scent.

Come find your way around Ashland Nature Center every weekend! Our teacher naturalists lead a free hike at 10:00am and 2:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday!

Flowers!

By Rebecca Wadman, Education Intern

Spring Beauty - Photo by Dave Pro

Spring Beauty – Photo by Dave Pro

Spring is absolutely full of flowers! As the temperatures warm up and the sunshine gets longer, plants start putting out their leaves and flowers. Spring Beauty flowers are one of my favorite, and they’re blooming everywhere here.

There are many fantastic flowers here at Ashland! Here are just a few of the ones blooming right now.

Common Blue Violet - Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Common Blue Violet – Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Common blue violet is native to North America. Native Americans and early European settlers used it to treat colds and sore throats, and ate the leaves and flowers as food. It comes in many different colors and patterns, ranging from dark purple to white, and solid colored, striped, or even speckled!

Cutleaf toothwort - Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Cutleaf toothwort – Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Cutleaf toothwort is another pretty native wildflower. It lives in places that were never used for fields or houses, and only has leaves and flowers in the spring. The “toothwort” part of the name comes from the root, which looks a little bit like it’s growing teeth, and “wort” which is an old English word for plant.

Bloodroot - Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Bloodroot – Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Bloodroot is a native wildflower with a distinctive, bright red sap.It’s rare, so keep a careful eye out on Treetop Trail at Ashland if you want a chance to see some!  They have finished blooming now, but look for their strange “hand-like” leaves with an upright, pointy seedpod.

Speedbump loves to eat dandelions! - Photo by Rebecca Wadman

Speedbump our captive Yellow-footed Tortoise loves to eat dandelions! – Photo by Rebecca Wadman

Dandelions might be a weed in your yard, but people and animals alike eat them for food. Goldfinches love to feast on Dandelions, and all of our captive education turtles really seem to enjoy them!

Come out out to Ashland on the weekend and join us for a free nature walk with one of our naturalists at 10:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday! No registration is necessary and these walks are free.  Right now, there are flowers blooming everywhere, and the ponds and marsh are full of frogs and tadpoles!

It’s Time For a Sweet Treat!

By Kim Scotto

Salutations, nature lovers!

Did you know that this time of year, from mid February to early April, is prime time for one of the most delicious outdoor activities? That’s right, it’s maple sugaring season! Maple sugaring is a technique used to obtain sap from within a tree. Think of sap as the tree’s blood – it only runs up and down the tree when the temperature is just right! The sap in Maple trees only flows enough to collect on days when the temperature gets below freezing at night, but is as warm as 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

But why would we want to collect tree sap?

Who made these holes? A Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker looking for a treat!

Who made these holes? A Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker looking for a treat! Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Animals were the first to discover that the sap of certain trees was a sweet treat! This Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker drills holes in a line across maples in order to eat the sugary sap. Native Americans realized that they too could collect sap by drilling holes in the tree!

Native Americans first learned how to tap trees hundreds of years ago, and while the tools have changed a little, at Ashland Nature Center we still collect sap with a very similar technique! Hannah and I decided to practice our sugaring skills this afternoon.

First, we chose a Maple tree that was at least 12 inches in diameter, which means the tree is at least 40 years old.

Next we took out our drill and drilled a small hole in the tree at an upward angle.

Intern Hannah drilling a hole into a Sugar Maple tree

Hannah drills a hole into a Sugar Maple! Photo by Kim Scotto

Then, we inserted a metal tool called a spile. The spile holds the hole open and lets the sap pour out of the tree.

Intern Kim using a hammer to attach the spile to a tree

Kim hammers the spile into the tree! Photo by Hannah Greenberg

 

Finally, we hooked a collection bag over the spile in order to catch all the sap as it dripped out.

Intern Kim hanging a blue back over the metal spile attached to the maple tree.

Kim hanging the collection bag. Bet there’ll be sap when we check back tomorrow!

When sap comes out of the tree, it looks almost exactly like water. While it tastes sweet just like this, the best way to eat it is to boil out the extra water to make maple syrup!  Yum!

Want to learn more about maple sugaring, practice tapping a tree, and eat a delicious pancake breakfast? Bring the family to the Delaware Nature Society’s Maple Sugaring Celebration this Saturday, Feb 8th from 9-12 at Ashland Nature Center. Pre-registration required.  If you have trouble registering on-line, call 302-239-2334 ext. 134 to register.

Ashland Hawk Watch

By Kim Scotto

Howdy, nature lovers!

Have you ever been bird watching before? Can you imagine doing it almost every day for 3 months? That’s exactly what Kelley Nunn, the Delaware Nature Society’s Hawk Watch Coordinator, does! The Ashland Nature Center’s Hawk Watch program is one of about 250 hawk watches in North America, and we got to talk to Kelley and find out what it’s all about!

Kelley Nunn, Ashland's Hawk Watch Coordinator!

Kelley Nunn, Ashland’s Hawk Watch Coordinator!

So Kelley, what exactly is a Hawk Watch?

The Hawk Watch is exactly that- watching hawks and other raptors! As the weather gets colder there is less food available for these predatory birds, so in the months of September, October, and November, many raptors make the long flight south to spend the winter.  This movement south is called migration. It’s important for scientists to know where, when, why and how the birds migrate. So my job is to count the species and number of individuals we see traveling past Hawk Watch Hill at Ashland.

A Red-Tailed Hawk soaring past Hawk Watch Hill! Photo by Derek Stoner

A Red-Tailed Hawk soaring past Hawk Watch Hill. I bet you can guess how this species got its name! Photo by Derek Stoner

What other kinds of data do you collect at Hawk Watch?

We look at the height of flight of the birds for important wind turbine studies. We also measure the temperature, wind speed, and cloud coverage on an hourly basis. Each species of raptor has its own ideal flying conditions, so during the warmer months like September, we will see different types of birds than in mid-November!

So what type of raptors are we most likely to see this time of year?

In November you’re going to see Vultures, Red-tailed Hawks, and Bald Eagles. You also might see Northern Goshawks, Rough-legged Hawks, or even Golden Eagles!

The Bald Eagle- America's national bird! Photo by Derek Stoner.

The Bald Eagle- America’s national bird! Photo by Derek Stoner.

How can kids get involved?

Kids can come to the Hawk Watch daily between 9AM and 4PM to learn about birding! No experience is necessary, and Ashland can provide binoculars. I think it’s really great for kids to get into birding. Bring a picnic lunch and your family (dogs more than welcome!) and spend an afternoon being a citizen scientist!

A beautiful day up at Hawk Watch Hill!

A beautiful day up at Hawk Watch Hill! Photo by Kelley Nunn.

 

Ashland’s Hawk Watch runs daily until November 30th, from 9AM-4PM.

Meet Kelley and learn more about these fascinating migratory birds!

Don’t forget to bundle up! Photo by Kim Scotto

 

Introducing the New Interns!

By Kim Scotto

Greetings nature lovers! We are Kim Scotto and Hannah Greenberg, the environmental education interns at the Delaware Nature Society for the 2013-2014 year! Here’s your place to “Ask a Naturalist” nature questions, keep updated on seasonal activity in the natural world, and check out what kids like you have been doing at our Delaware Nature Society sites. Our “Program Spotlight” lets you know of ways that YOU can get involved with US!

But first, allow us to introduce ourselves with some fun facts:

Fun fact #1: We love snakes!

Here is Kim with Ashland's  Corn Snake!

Here is Kim with Ashland’s Corn Snake! Photo by Hannah Greenberg

Here is Hannah with a garter snake that she found while out on a hike! Taken by Carrie Scheick

Here is Hannah with a garter snake that she found while out on a hike! Photo by Carrie Scheick

But wait- aren’t snakes dangerous? No, not usually. Neither of the snakes that we are holding are venomous, but some snakes can have bites that range from plain painful to deadly! The only venomous snake in Delaware is the Copperhead, but it is rarely encountered.  Remember; don’t pick up a snake you find out in the wild unless you’re with an adult who knows their snakes! Both Hannah and Kim have been trained in how to handle these cold-blooded creatures. We think they’re just fascinating!

Fun fact #2: We love the fall!

We love taking hikes in autumn and looking at the beautiful changing leaves. Now is the perfect time of year to take a walk around Ashland Nature Center and look at the gorgeous colors. Here are some pictures from Ashland this autumn!

The gorgeous view from Ashland's Hawk Watch Hill. Check back soon to learn about our Hawk Watch program!

The gorgeous view from Ashland’s Hawk Watch Hill. Check back soon to learn about our Hawk Watch program! Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Hannah playing in the leaves! Photo by Kim Scotto

Hannah playing in the leaves! Photo by Kim Scotto

Fall is also a great time of year to observe Kim’s favorite native wild animal- the Eastern Gray Squirrel! In November, these acrobatic mammals are hard at work burying nuts and acorns to eat later on in the winter when food isn’t as easy to find. Did you know that many oak trees are grown from acorns that squirrels buried and then forgot about?

Kim's favorite native animal is the Eastern Gray Squirrel! Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Kim’s favorite native animal is the Eastern Gray Squirrel! Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Fun fact #3: We just LOVE nature! And we hope we have that in common with YOU!

Kim just LOVES nature! Photo by Hannah Greenberg

Kim just LOVES nature! Photo by Hannah Greenberg

We can’t wait to get to know you as we share our adventures in nature! In the comments section of this blog, tell us your favorite thing about the fall, and be sure to check in often to see what’s happening at the Delaware Nature Society.

Who Came First? The Shorebird or the Egg?

What do Delaware Nature Society staff members do when they all take a day off together? Go play outside, of course! At the end of May, we headed down to the Delaware Bay to see the migratory shorebirds and check out the horseshoe crab phenomenon. It was quite a sight to see thousands of horseshoe crabs all in one place!

...

Look at all of them!

LOOK!  Photo by Jim White.

So what’s the big deal about these horseshoe crabs anyway? Every year in May and June, horseshoe crabs converge on the Delaware Bay to breed during the full and new moons, as well as high tides. The Delaware Bay is known as a staging site for migratory shorebirds, a place between their wintering and nesting grounds where food is plentiful and the birds can double or triple their body weight before continuing their journey. The horseshoe crab eggs that are laid are an important food source for these birds as they stop here on their way to their Arctic nesting grounds.

The first stop on our outing was at Slaughter Beach. Abbott’s Mill staff member, Elliot, taught us about the horseshoe crab migration and the interdependency between the horseshoe crabs and the migrating shorebirds. We spent some time looking for horseshoe crab sheds and even got to tag one of the horseshoe crabs!

Scientists can track where the horseshoe crabs travels by tagging them and hoping someone finds them and reports them later. Photo by Jim White.

FUN FACT: Did you know that horseshoe crab blood is really important? Horseshoe crabs are harvested for their blood because it is used in medical testing to ensure that drugs, vaccines, or other medical devices are free from bacteria contamination. Staff member Jim White extracted some horseshoe crab blood to show us how quickly the blood coagulates, or solidifies. It’s also a very bright blue color!

DNS staff member Jim White drawing horseshoe crab blood. Photo by Christy Belardo.

 

Next, we did some birding at the Dupont Nature Center and as we drove along Port Mahon Road. (Pronounced MAY-hon).  We got some great looks at the shorebirds throughout the day, check out these pictures!

So many Semipalmated Sandpipers in flight! Photo by Jim White.

Ruddy Turnstones. Guess why they are called turnstones!  They actually turn over stones and other debris with their upturned bill!  How cool is that! Photo by Jim White.

Anna likes Double-crested Cormorants because she thinks they look like dinosaurs! Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

 

See all those little green dots? Those are horseshoe crab eggs, and these Semipalmated Sandpipers were having a delicious lunch! Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

I was most excited to see the Red Knots on this trip because I’d never seen them before.  This colorful bird has declined dramatically in recent years, partly due to the overharvesting of horseshoe crabs, who’s eggs they eat along Delaware Bay.  However, this season there has been a higher count of Red Knots on the Delaware Bay than scientists have seen in a number of years!

The Red Knots look very similar to the Semipalmated Sandpipers, but you can see they are much larger and have a red breast. Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

It was such a great day to spend some time away together as a staff and just be outside! It was a lot of fun learning about the horseshoe crabs and learning how to handle them. It took a little getting used to…

It was slightly alarming holding the horseshoe crab for the first time, especially when it was pointing its tail at us! They are actually harmless and fun to hold.  No need to be afraid!  Photo by Christy Belardo.

…but after the initial “yikes!” moments, Anna and I had a blast taking a closer look at these ancient animals!

Photo by Jim White.

Two thumbs up for horseshoe crabs! Photo by Brian Winslow.

By the time you read this, many of the shorebirds we saw will be winging their way to the arctic to nest.  Some of them fly non-stop for thousands of miles to get there!

Just like these shorebirds, Anna and I will be spreading our wings and flying onto what’s next as our year-long internship comes to an end. We had an absolute BLAST writing for the blog this past year; we hope you’ve had as much fun reading our posts as we’ve had writing them! Don’t worry though, we will still be around this summer teaching camps and plan on occasionally guest writing for the blog. We hope you continue to have fun outdoorsy adventures, and we’ve encouraged you to as find as much joy in nature as we have!

Gone Fishin’

The Young Naturalists have been busy exploring nature this spring! Once again, our Young Naturalists leader and favorite guest author, Kristen, wrote about what they’ve been up to.  Check it out!

The Young Naturalists Club went fishing at Coverdale Farm Preserve on Sunday, May 19th.  Despite the overcast clouds threatening rain, we grabbed our fishing poles and worms determined to catch some big Blue Gill! 

The Delaware Nature Society’s volunteer “Dream Team” completed this new dock at the pond this spring. Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

The fish were unaware of the gloomy skies and were happily biting the earth worms from our hooks!

Sara baits her hook in hopes to catch a fish! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

Joey really enjoyed his time fishing! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

Kari, Sara, and Connor all caught a Blue Gill! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

 

As we were catching fish at the pond, we were serenaded by amphibians, specifically American Bullfrogs and Green Frogs. We saw a lot of Bull Frog tadpoles in the water and were lucky enough to catch two Green Frogs! Connor also caught a Red-spotted Newt in his net. Eastern Towhees were calling in the trees and Red-winged Blackbirds cackled near the waters edge.  A mother Canada Goose was warming her nest while the father kept a close eye on us.

This Green Frog seemed to enjoyed hanging out on the dock with the Young Naturalists! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

As the day ended, we hiked up the steep hill and spent some time looking at the piglets, calves and lambs at the farm! It was a great way to end this season of the Young Naturalists Club and we are looking forward to the fall session!

Thanks for sharing Kristen, we look forward to hearing about your fall adventures! If you’re interested in joining the Young Naturalists Club on their adventures, sign up now! Members can register online at www.delawarenaturesociety.org or you may call us at (302) 239 – 2334.

Lambs, Chicks, Piglets, and Calves…Oh My!

How many of you have been to a farm before?  It’s spring time at Coverdale Farm Preserve, which means there are many families here! Do you know what animals might be found on a farm? Anna and I spent some time with the baby farm animals a few weeks ago.  Besides being totally overwhelmed with cuteness, we learned a lot about these animals that we didn’t know before.  Check out some of these awesome facts and come on a farm tour with us!

Our first stop was the sheep pasture. We visited with the mother sheep, called an ewe, and her two lambs. Ewes will generally have one lamb at a time but sometimes, as with these lambs, they have twins (and sometimes even triplets!)

The twin lambs, a boy and a girl with their mother.

These lambs are a combination of two different breeds (kind of like how some dogs can be two different breeds mixed together).  They are a mixture of Dorset sheep, which are sheep with white faces, and Suffolk sheep, which are sheep with blackish faces.  The mixture gives these lambs freckly faces, which make them pretty unique!

Before the lambs are allowed to be out in the pasture, the farmer will keep the lambs in with their mother so that the mother can bond with the lambs.  This way, the mother will be able to recognize her lambs and keep them safe even when they are all out with the rest of the flock. So how do these mothers bond with their babies? One way the mother can identify her lambs is by smelling the lamb’s scat. After the babies drink the mother’s milk, the smell of her milk will be in the lamb’s scat. The mother recognizes this very distinct smell and knows that the lamb is hers. (Gross, but cool, right?) After the lambs are about a month old, they are finally old enough to go out to the pasture to socialize with the other sheep in the flock. These lambs went out to pasture about a week after Anna and I visited.

These little lambs were very wiggly, I had a hard time getting a good picture of them!

 

Next, Anna and I went to look at the chickens. Baby chicks grow very quickly and grow bigger every week. You can really tell the difference between a recently hatched chick and one who is a few weeks old.

Check out the changes (especially in the feathers) of these chicks Anna is holding! Ages range from 1 week, 2 weeks, and 3 weeks from left to right.

After 1 week they look like classic fluffy chicks. After 2 weeks they grow some of their mature feathers on their wings  and on the tops of their heads. After 3 weeks they are much longer and leaner and have many more mature feathers throughout their bodies – they look like mini adult chickens!

At Coverdale, we have 5 different kinds of chickens, including blue hens! I couldn’t resist taking a picture with one of the adorable week old blue hens and give a shout out to my alma mater University of Delaware!

This little guy is ready to be a Fightin’ Blue Hen like me!

 

After the chickens, we headed to check out the pigs. The mother pig is called a sow and the baby pigs are called piglets. Each sow will have a litter of piglets anywhere from 8-15 of them. (That’s a lot of piglets!) Each piglet chooses a teat, what the mother’s milk comes from, and that will be the only one they use.  Stronger piglets will take the milk closest to the heart where more milk is pumped out, while the smaller piglets will take the ones farther from the heart. Piglets drink a lot of milk and grow one pound a day! Do you grow that fast?

These English Black piglets were pretty sleepy when Anna and I were hanging out with them. You can see one piglet taking a drink of milk before he gets ready to take a nap with his siblings!

 

Anna and I headed to our last stop on the farm to check out the cows – our favorites! First we went to visit Valentino, the White-faced Hereford Beef Calf that was born in February. (Click here for the blog Michele Wales, Farm Program Coordinator, wrote about Valentino’s birth a couple months back on the DNS adult blog – The Nature of Delaware!)

Check out Valentino’s picturesque pasture.  There sure is a lot of grass to eat!

Valentino spends his time in the pasture with his mother and his “Auntie” dairy cow eating grass in the field and hay from the outdoor barn  When he goes into the barn with them, he will eat grain in the stone barn where he sleeps, while the farmers do their chores.

Valentino is never too far behind his mother!

After spending some time with Valentino, we then spent some time with the two dairy calves. These calves come from Woodside Farm…you know, that place with the great ice cream.   The farmers there allow us to use them for education  programs at Coverdale.

Say hello to this dairy calf!

Most dairy cows are completely brown, but this little guy has got quite a bit of white on him!

Dairy cows only drink milk for the first 3 weeks of their life and then begin to eat organic grain or hay that we produce on the farm.  Coverdale’s adult dairy cow, a Jersey cow, produces about six gallons of milk per day!  These baby Jersey calves are bottle fed twice and day and are happy to drink her milk.  This way, the adult cow is able to be milked so that her milk will not go to waste since we cannot drink it, and the Woodside calves get a sweet treat for breakfast and dinner every day.

Of course, Anna and I couldn’t help but pet these baby cows.  Just look at those faces!

 

The Delaware Nature Society has designated 2013 as the “Year of Coverdale Farm Preserve.” This means that we are focusing on making fun programs for you to discover all the cool happenings at the farm.  From baby animals, like these, to gardening, to cooking classes, there are a ton of programs and events available for all interests.

Join us on Wednesdays (now through September 25th) for Farm Fun Days! Take a self-guided visit to see Coverdale’s animals, dig in the vegetable garden, and test your skills at a farm scavenger hunt. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy under the grand old oak trees! Farm Fun Days are free for Delaware Nature Society members and cost $5 per adult/$3 per children (ages 2+) for non-members. No pre-registration is required.

We look forward to celebrating this “farmtastic” year with you!

Make Every Day Earth Day

Delaware Nature Society will be celebrating Earth Day rain or shine on Saturday, April 20th from 11am – 3pm at the DuPont Environmental Education Center located at the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge. This year’s festival will be full of fun – canoeing and kayaking trips down the Christina River…

These Earth Day Festival attendees are loving their canoe trip through the marsh at DEEC. Photo by Jill Constantine.

…guided nature walks in the marsh, spotting ospreys on their nesting platform, catching fish and aquatic insects…

Dip netting is a favorite activity for all ages at Earth Day! Photo by Eric Robertson.

…live music, story telling, face painting…

Face painting, another Earth Day Festival tradition. Photo by Ken Francis.

…craft demonstrations, the chance to meet green living exhibitors, and more! Come celebrate with us!

 

So why in the world do we have Earth Day?

Before the Clean Air and Clean Water Act of 1970 and 1972 respectively, pollution in the United States was largely unregulated. After a massive oil spill off the coast of California, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson  raised awareness of air and water pollution.

Gross!

As a result of Senator Nelson’s work, on April 22, 1970 over 20 million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate their support for a healthy and sustainable environment. This widespread demonstration was the push that the U.S. government needed to take action. It was the first Earth Day!!  This national celebration led to a number of different changes in U.S. legislation. In December 1970, a new governmental agency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was formed to tackle national environmental issues. In the following few years, Congress passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act (1973), which were all ground-breaking pieces of legislation that remain influential today. Earth Day joined a lot of different people together as one united front pursuing a healthy and sustainable environment, and this is something we still celebrate today!

 

Have you ever walked barefoot on the beach and made footprints in the sand? It’s pretty neat to see that you can leave an impression in the sand even after you’ve walked away. You also leave an impression on the planet called your ecological footprint, which measures the demand you place on the Earth according to your lifestyle. Earth Day brought awareness to us about how the choices we make have an impact on the environment and we want to live in a way that minimizes that impact. Wonder what your ecological footprint is? Google search “ecological footprint calculator” to take a quiz to find out how many planets it takes  to support your current lifestyle.

The Delaware Nature Society seeks to reduce their impact and wants to encourage you to do the same by “Living Green, Being Green, and Saving Green!” Here are a few ways you can reduce your ecological footprint:

– Bring your own reusable bags to the supermarket. You and your family can even create your own bags. You can buy plain canvas bags and some puffy paint and decorate them any way you’d like!

Anna takes her reusable bags with her when she goes food shopping.

– Unplug electrical devices and power strips when not in use.

– Run your dishwasher and clothes washer/dryer only when you have a full load. Full loads use the same amount of hot water and energy and partial loads.  Use cold water when you can.  It takes a lot of energy to heat that stuff up!

I fill my washer up all the way before I run a load!

– If you are going to be gone from a room for more than 5 seconds, turn off the lights when you leave, and you will help save the planet. This one is so simple, but many of us forget to do it!

(Interested in some more eco-friendly tips and tricks? Check out previous blog posts ‘Water’ You Going to Do? from March and Have Yourself an Environmentally Friendly Season! from this past December.)

 

I’m excited to celebrate Earth Day with others who share my passion for taking care of our planet. What would you like to celebrate? What is something you have done to help the Earth? One thing I’ve done is pledge to not drink bottled water; I carry a Nalgene (or two!) with tap water around with me everywhere I go.

I decorate my Nalgenes with a lot of stickers, it makes them much more fun and colorful!

I want to hear your answers to these questions too, comment below to share your response. I hope you see you at our Earth Day festival on Saturday!

For more information about the Delaware Nature Society Earth Day Festival, call (302) 656-1490 or visit www.delawarenaturesociety.org

Young Naturalists Jump Into Spring

The Young Naturalists are wasting no time springing into the warm weather exploring Ashland in search of animal activity. Our Young Naturalists leader and favorite guest author, Kristen, wrote about what they saw. Check it out!

The Young Naturalists Club met on Saturday evening, March 23rd to explore Ashland at night!  We had our hopes set high that we would find a lot of spring amphibians and bats, but the cool weather kept most of them in hiding.

The Young Naturalists exploring the marsh at Ashland Nature Center. Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

As we waited for the sun to go down and for the amphibians to come out, we hiked along the trails at Ashland in search for crepuscular animals like White-tailed deer, rabbits and foxes, who are active around dawn and dusk.  We spotted 6 White-tailed deer eating in the floodplain.  As we hiked to the top of Sledding Hill, the sun was setting and we turned our eyes to the dark sky to look for stars. We saw Orion and his dog Canis Major with the bright star Sirius ablaze.  We also spotted Jupiter which was in the constellation Taurus. (Not sure what these stars look like? Check out the “How ‘Sirius’ Are You About Astronomy?” post from January to see some pictures!)

As we made our way down Sledding Hill towards the marsh we tried to call in Eastern screech owls.  We were able to hear two calling from the pine forest and as we listened carefully, we thought one was coming close…but we didn’t get to spot it!

When we made it to the marsh, we were lucky enough to find some Wood frog eggs and hear a few Spring peepers in a rousing chorus. The most exciting part of the night at the marsh was catching 3 Red-spotted newts!

This Young Naturalist shows off one of the Red-spotted newts the group found in the marsh. Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

We rounded out our fun evening by building a campfire in the Nature Center and roasting some delicious s’mores!

 

Thanks for sharing Kristen, that’s awesome you found 3 Red-spotted newts! The Young Naturalists have many more fun adventures planned for this spring, check it out!

Sunday, April 28th from 1-4 pm –  Head off-site to look for cool rocks and minerals! Location is to be determined, most likely the location will be Iron Hill or Woodlawn Trustees Preserve. [Note: Time and date change from original schedule.]

Sunday, May 19th, 1-4pm – It’s time to go fishing at Coverdale Farm Preserve! Directions will be provided before the outing.

If you’re interested in joining the Young Naturalists Club on their adventures, sign up now! Members can register online at www.delawarenaturesociety.org or you may call us at (302) 239 – 2334.