27 October 2009

Critters & Moss

We went out to our local nature preserve this morning, and had a good time. The first thing we noticed was the golden "carpet" they've "installed" in the yard! Monkey picked a leaf and carried it around for a few minutes, though I didn't let him take it into the nature center itself. It was OK though. He was no sooner inside than he found something else to be interested in! We'd seen some of it before, but this time we also visited their "pond room," and found some interesting things to look at. For instance, the largest frog I've ever seen, a bullfrog, and the smallest frog, a spring peeper, no bigger than the size of a quarter.

bullfrog


spring peeper


This is the last frog we looked at. He also looked at us, and seemed quite intelligent about it. When we walked up to his aquarium he hopped out of his water and came over to check us out. Looked at whoever was speaking. Generally was much more friendly than your average critter. I didn't catch what kind of frog he is though; too busy watching him watch us.

Photo credit: Monkey


At this point I required Monkey to go outside again. Nature being outside, I thought this would be more productive. But on our way out we stopped at the office and checked out a pair of binoculars. That was pretty cool. Not that I got a turn with them, but it was cool that they had loaners available! Then we took off on the park's trials.





About this point Monkey started asking me to show him "cool things." The first thing we looked at was some spiky soft moss growing on the base of a young tree, but the photographs I took turned out fuzzy. I was bummed, because I remembered there was a moss and lichen challenge on the Outdoor Hour and had been thinking maybe these would work. Next we found these pretty leaves that are so beautifully contrasting.


It's kind of hard to see, but here Monkey is checking out the seeds on the yellow plant from the last picture. He wanted to know what the brown clump at the top was, and I told him the seed head. Good thing that he didn't ask any more: I realized that I don't know much about this stuff, in spite of all I have learned in the past year, and should read about some of these things in the Handbook of Nature Study!





It was about this point that Monkey began climbing to find more moss and I realized we needed a new rule: Mom holds the binoculars while Monkey climbs. Fortunately, the very little bit of dirt that got on them brushed off easily.



This is the moss Monkey was climbing up to look at.






Crustose lichen


The big excitement happened at the very end of the trip. We'd gone into a little opening in the trees to look at a bunch of rocks with some big splotches of lichen, when I just about stepped on a snake! It was well camouflaged: I didn't see it until I moved just before I would have put my big foot on it. I was startled. I squeaked. Then I had Monkey come over and look at it too. He had a hard time finding it, but eventually did it. The folks at the nature center said that it was a garter snake when I returned the binoculars, and were glad we'd see it because it tells them the garter snakes are moving from the one side of the preserve to the other for their winter hibernation. Because it was so well camouflaged, I couldn't get any great pictures. Here's the best one, with everything but the snake in black and white to help you see it. It's amazing to me how well it still blends, after editing the picture to make the snake more obvious.

6 comments:

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

What a great day for an Outdoor Hour Challenge! Love the golden carpet and the frogs and the moss and everything else.

I wish I could have been there to share your day but your entry is the next best thing. :)

Thanks for sharing,
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Tianna said...

Is the snake that little tiny spec in the upper left corner of the picture??

Keeley said...

Snakes! Snakes! Snnnnaaaaaakes! AGGGHHHH!

You're one brave woman. =)

Ritsumei said...

Yeah, well, I have to admit that As.Soon.As we were done looking at that snake we pretty much left because this Mama was feeling a bit spooked by the whole thing. Now that I know it was a garter snake it's all cool. But then... I was done with our nature study for the day. We came. We saw. We're leaving now.

Cindy said...

What a great day! I love the photos. :o) Thanks for adding this to the CM Carnival!

{ jamie } said...

Wonderful -- and I LOVE that carpet of golden leaves! :)

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