Monday, April 20, 2009

Discovering New Things On a Hike

I'm a big fan of the Take-Along Guides series of books for kids. These books are perfect for younger kids as they are not so jammed full of information that kids can't find what they're looking for, they cover only the animals (or trees, flowers, etc. depending on the topic of the book) that you are most likely to see, and the illustrations are clear and helpful. Eli and Sadie recently got the book Tracks, Scats, and Signs. We brought it with us on our latest "hike" to Prairie Oaks Metro Park. This is a great park because it has prairie, forest, river, wetlands, and relatively short un-paved trails (and the fact that it has a playground and bathrooms doesn't hurt either). The park meets all our needs and it is filled with a wide-range of wild-life, not bad for a 15 minute drive from our house!We set off on our hike and the first thing we found was some very furry scat. This scat was probably the most interesting that I've ever seen as it contained an entire foot with bones and claws still attached. I'm guessing that it used to belong to a rabbit or perhaps a squirrel. We quickly paged through our book to find that the scat probably came from a coyote:It just spent four days raining in a Columbus so tracks were very easy to find and identify. The first we spotted came from a deer:Down by the river we identified a perfect raccoon hand:And we think that this print might belong to a muskrat:We also found signs that a beaver lives near by:I'm including this picture because we have seen a lot of them lately mostly in grasses or wetlands areas. They look papery, but are more spongy and they look like they would be very sticky, but they're not. I'm guessing they belong to some kind of insect, but if anyone knows, I'd love to know:We also found a perfect blue and black striped feather from a blue jay, which is perhaps my favorite find of the day. By the end of the trip, Eli was able to tell us a lot of the animals that lived in the park that we didn't actually see, but saw signs of. It was a great day for a hike and a great day to see tracks, scats and signs!!

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