Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ode to Mass Audubon's Stony Brook

Skunk Cabbage, yuck!
What threatened to be a grey, cold and slightly rainy day turned out to be the best day I've had all week. Determined to get us out and about, I got up this morning and called to sign us up for a class on vernal pools. Once I pay for something I'm much more likely to put effort into enjoying it. After waiting to the last minute, because I am just addicted to rushing about yelling "hurry we are late," everyone actually got ready in less than 20 minutes.

Even without the green blush of spring, Stony Brook was picturesque. Chattering birds, crashing waterfalls in the distance and the soft inviting sounds of a forest waiting to be trampled through provided the soundscape for the sanctuary. After a quick introductory meeting we ventured out to explore the vernal pool.

Salamander Eggs

Equipped with magnifying glasses, spoons and buckets we set out to explore muck from the pool. Fortunately my troops had successfully gone ponding before because after several minutes of relentless searching, we had no luck. Without any signs of disappointment, the boys shifted focus and began investigating their surroundings. Shmeep went back to the pool, Shnook began flipping over logs and Shmitty looked at everything around him through magnified eyes, each in search of signs of life.

At the close of the class we considered ourselves very lucky. The class had found spotted salamander eggs, insect larva, a mouse, mites and 5 different salamanders. Several of the salamanders we found were "lungless," using their skin to absorb oxygen. Did I mention we had a cool, fact filled naturalist leading the group :)

I promise its in there


After the vernal pool class we set off and explored the grounds. We saw cardinals, blue jays, robbins, hawks, geese, and a beautiful snow white swan. While walking out on the family friendly boardwalk, we saw a huge snapping turtle resting peacefully in the water. We stood for awhile watching nothing in particular and everything at the same time. It was wonderful. At the end of the boardwalk was a perfect little island where the boys ran wild, delirious with the freedom of open space and unmanicured terrain.

Snapping Turtle

After leaf tossing, playing chase and running with sticks, we slowly walked around the sanctuary back to out car.
Swan in the distance

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