Science Sarah Says … Community and Heritage

The landscapes and living things in natural communities near Frog Pond are important parts of our community and heritage.

We missed taking our usual nature hikes in November and December, so when we resumed the walks in January it felt like coming home after a long trip. The children looked for familiar landmarks and we noticed lots of changes. There are colored flags marking off plants in the forest, and dead trees and invasive vines have been cut as the park staff go about their “community helper” work to preserve the park and keep it safe.

When we reached the boardwalk we noticed immediately that the beavers have been gnawing on trees in a new area, close to the beginning of the Heron Trail. The wetland was transformed by ice in early January. The frogs and turtles, and even water birds were out of sight. There is a new beaver dam too, at this end of the boardwalk. When we checked out the big beaver lodge it seemed deserted, until Nikhil spotted 2 muskrats swimming under the ice, into the lodge. We will all hold the image of those slender, furry bodies wriggling under the rigid ice for years to come.

Have the beavers built a new house, we wondered?  Beavers move up and downstream as the food supply (young trees) dwindles.  Muskrats eat grasses, not trees, so perhaps they have opportunistically taken over the old lodge, since their renewable food source is still plentiful.

A week later the ice had all melted and many Canada geese had moved into the area. They seemed so peaceful, gabbling quietly and poking their beaks deep into the mud in search of green shoots. A small flock rose suddenly from the water and flew over us, so graceful and surprising—another breathtaking memory.

Young squirrels chasing and wrestling on the tree trunks, the downy woodpecker Jeremy spotted on a dead tree near “Goat Alley”, chickadees and titmice taking turns flitting to our feeder, red cardinals bright against the sky and wriggling worms blending invisibly in the dirt—all of these images belong to Frog Pond’s children. And because they have had these experiences they will remember and know that, while all things change, wild creatures and wild places are important and need to be protected.

Science Sarah

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