A Family Nature Hike in the Valley

February 19, 10 am

The temperature has cooled at least 10 degrees from yesterday and 30 degrees from last week. It feels again like winter, even though the sun is shining. The wind is at 13 mph from the north and all the Presidents Day flags were blowing heartily. It feels good to be out along Berry Creek with a group of families. The children are off school today, happy to be together exploring a new area. We talk about using our ears and eyes to see what is around us. They are loaded with magnifiers, binoculars, and field guides. One is a guide to animal tracks which these children, 2-second graders, 1 first grader, 1 kindergartener, one preschooler, and one 2 years old, were very interested in. What animal tracks might we see?

First, we see a great group of raccoon prints and running deer prints. They used the track book to find these. So much excitement! We had seen a couple of deer run away from us earlier, so were expecting to find their tracks.

We could hear a few birds singing or calling. There was a Song sparrow singing beautifully, Dark-eyed juncos chipping, and a couple of Scrub jays calling to each other. The children ran ahead laughing and pointing to more tracks. They found Elk tracks and we discussed how they were different from cow and deer tracks.

The blue sky above us had puffy white clouds floating by. We heard the calls of a Nuttall’s woodpecker and saw two of them moving in the oak trees. Their black and white ladder-backed markings were hard to see in the lichen and branches of the trees. As we walked on, the chatting of the children led us adults onward up across  Davis Creek and up to the north end of the valley. We all enjoyed the wide openness. After a stop for lunch, we turned back to the trail beginning.

It had been a fun, satisfying day out in the middle of this beautiful valley, shared with delightful children and their parents.

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