The bird nerds in training had a perfect morning of bird watching, butterfly gazing and discussing the ecology of the salt marsh and the forms of life found in every direction you turn. The campus of the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is a treasure. There are so many different habitats to explore and learn about and play in, our bird walks sometimes seem to end right after they've begun...we're having SUCH a busy time learning about our surroundings and discussing the birds we see - time flies!
We had a busy start as we jumped right into our first activity - visiting the Butterfly House at the museum. Fortunately, KidSummer Kids get to take advantage of the exhibits and goings on (there's ALWAYS something new!) in and out and all around the building while they're at day camp this week. This latest edition to the museum has been EXTREMELY popular and you'll have to go & find out for yourself! The bird nerds seemed to love it and I have to say - they were so very well behaved! It's a delicate environment these lovely butterflies exist in, in order for visitors to get so close. You even have to watch out where you step! The bird nerds listened intently, asked informed questions and clearly understand how very vital pollinators (bugs, birds & bats) are to a well-balanced ecosystem.
We spent some time exploring the lower level aquarium as well, where we admired fish & turtles & horseshoe crabs & jellyfish. Our bird walk today was on the Lee Baldwin Trail, south of Route 6A. We never know just how far (or how NOT far) we'll get on a bird walk. Since birds are our main focus, they fly and sing and perch and we go where and when we notice them. We made it just across the salt marsh and back again, spotting several species - including an exciting moment of a flock of about 30 or so European Starlings flocking toward and chasing away a Cooper's Hawk in the distance. It very much reminded me of Leo Lionni's book, Swimmy, one of my all time favorites! We had awesome views of an Eastern Kingbird who stuck around on the salt marsh perching & flying. We paused to listen to the breeze flow through the marsh reeds & I asked the bird nerds what they thought of the sound, as they closed their eyes and tuned into nature's music; how did it make them feel? "Good. Relaxed. Calm". We talked about the salinity (once I explained to them that meant the amount of salt in the water on the saltmarsh). We talked about how important the crabs ( we saw so many Fiddler Crabs!) are to the marsh, how they clean & help to filter the sands. I heard a great definition of ecosystem from one of the bird nerds: "It's all the animals and plants and stuff, and the different roles they have in order to help keep this all alive."
Perfect. (double click photos to enlarge)
Waiting patiently to visit the Butterfly House
Bird Nerd SELFIE!
Bumble Bee working on pollination
Monarch Butterflies diggin' on the hydrangea
Posing with the Monarchs
We learned about chrysalises
Marjorie pointing out the butterfly eggs - so tiny!
Making faces at the fish
Turtles are facinating!
Bird Alley - another hot spot for bird nerds!
Checking out the museum's latest resident:
a rare calico lobster
Jellyfish Photo Ops
( I just LOVE the natural expressions when kids are observing the Moon Jellies!)
Bird Nerd with built-in birdoculars
Learning about feather physiology
Pollution is a very bad thing
Back side (not so great) shot of a House Finch
Bird Nerds with BINOCULARS!
Learning about native plans vs. invasive species.
This is the GOOD salt marsh reed
Listening to the breeze through the reeds
Fiddler Crab holes in the marsh
Creeping quietly towards the Eastern Kingbird
Mourning Doves perching
Taking a break in the shade
Pointing out the cattails on the marsh
Not google maps - REAL maps of the trails
Comparing bird nerd wingspan to actual bird wing spans
As big as an American Crow!
Almost as big as an Osprey!!!What a terrific flock of bird nerds this week!