Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day weekend...

Well a long weekend is here and both Jessica and I are taking advantage by going to some places with unique natural features.  Jessica is at the outer banks as I type and I am heading out to Ogden, Utah to explore the area a little. 

Even though we aren't here this weekend our hearts are always thinking about the wonderful natural area we have right here in Durham County.  I encourage everyone who is staying in the area this weekend to get out and enjoy some of these natural spots.  Of course West Point on the Eno should top your list, but there are so many other great places.  Penny's Bend, Little River Regional Park, Lake Michie Recreation Area, Duke Forest, and the list just keeps going.  Now there are some lesser known spots out there, so pull out an atlas of Durham County and take a close look.  There are plenty of places to go where you most likely will not see another person, just lots of beautiful nature.  Here are some pictures from one of those places that my wife and I like to go. 

Take care, be safe, and enjoy your weekend. 

Monday, May 23, 2011


Today in the News and Observer online newspaper there was a great article talking about the bird calling apps that people have downloaded onto their phones. They say that people use the app calls to "flush out species for better viewing and photography".

Just becareful if you do decide to do birdwatching this way because a Seattle based wildlife recording expert said, "I've seen woodpeckers respond to playback from birders ... and a sharp-shinned hawk comes and takes the bird out".

Let's leave mother nature to her own devices and leave our devices in our pockets when we are in nature.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teens in Nature go to Cow College

Well they didn't go to college, but they did graduate from the Teens in Nature program today, after they worked with some dairy cows at Bull City Farm up near Bahama, NC.  First we got a brief introduction to the farm and then we went and walked the electric fence with two of the family members.  Our job while doing this was to make sure there were no breaks in the fence where the cows could get out.  Here are some pictures from our walk.

 Some of the pastures were getting nice and thick for when the cows are rotated over.

 We came to a group of the older cows and we learned how friendly cows can be.  Ben, as well as Ben's shirt became good friends with Piggy.

 We all got to pet a cow and see how social cows are.  This was a nice start to the day. 

Next came the real work, rounding up and doing some preventative maintenance on the cow.  We measured them for size and weight and helped give medicine.  At this point we were working with some of the younger cows.  The round up involved us walking in a spread out line and funneling the cows to where we wanted them, no horses and lassos, and such.  This was also the time where we learned how stubborn cows can be and how strong a cow can be.  This was a great experience. 

You can see the emu lurking in the background...
We ended our day getting to milk one of the cows, everyone took a turn and everyone was successful.  We would like to thank Bull City Farm for having us out and letting us get dirty with them. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cicada Fun...

Yes the 13 year cicadas are here in full force.  We had a friend drop by the office yesterday.  They are really cool looking with the orange eyes and the little z pattern on the wing.  Below are some pictures of our friend.  Go out to some forested areas and try to find a place with a lot of the cicadas, the sound is awesome and it's an experience you only get a couple of times in a life time.  Here is a neat website if you want to see when broods are going to emerge


 As you can see they have some brilliant orange on them.
The are also smaller as adults than the typical summer
cicadas.  Go check out our noisiest May visitors. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Teens in Nature meet the Bike Coop

So this program happened on April 23.  The first hour of our day we had Ray Riordan come and talk with the teens about AmeriCorps opportunities in the state of  North Carolina.  This gave the teens a chance to see what different programs AmeriCorps has.  I think that the teens learned a lot from Ray and we would like to thank him for coming out and talking with us. 

After Ray left we hoped in the van and headed over to the Durham Bike Coop.  We at lunch once we arrived and when we were done the Bike Coop was open and ready for our help.  First we got a tour of their workspace and a run through of what services the Coop provides.  We then got to help them break down old bikes to salvage the parts for future use or the scrap yard, depending on the condition of the bike.  This was a lot of fun and a lot of learning and we couldn't have done it without the help of the Bike Coop staff.  The were patient and helpful.  We got greasy and learned a lot about bikes in a short time.  Here are some pictures from the day.

As you can see we were busy.
We would like to extend our thanks to Leslie Peteya for setting this up with us and everyone there who helped us with breaking down the bikes.  This was a great experience for the teens. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring Break Trips

Lake Michie
As I said we are trying to catch up on programs, so here are some tales from our Spring Break trips at the end of April.

The weather was beautiful the first day when we went canoeing on Lake Michie.  We went over the basic safety issues and then started paddling up to where the river enters the lake.  Once we got to the river we beached the boats and hiked up to an old low water dam.  Along the way we saw  

This was a fun day that gave us an opportunity to paddle, hike, and explore the upper part of Lake Michie. 

Day two was spent hiking from West Point on the Eno up to the pump station.  The weather once again was beautiful, fortunately, and the hike was nice and long.  We saw lots of plants and some animals along the way including the Pinxter and Bluets (as seen in our previous post).  It was amazing to see how long it took us to get to the pump station, due to our meandering and exploring, and how quickly we got back with a focused hike. 

Day three we had a change of plans due to wind.  So we ended up canoeing down the Eno River from the Cole Mill Rd access down to West Point.  We had a great time and the kids did a great job in the boats.  We only got wet because the river was just low enough that we couldn't get through all the rock gardens.  But the temperature was warm and the water felt pretty good. 

Day four we canoed on the Upper Flat River from NCSU's Hill Forest down to Lake Michie.  We would like to thank Joe Cox for permision to use the forest for this trip and some other programs.  Not only did we paddle today but we got to see deer swimming across the river, we saw turtles, lots of birds, and we did a little fishing along the way.  Yes I know, this isn't a picture of the kids fishing, but this is one of the largest yellow perch that I have seen. 

All of the kids did some fishing too.  My boat partner, Kevin, caught the largest fish of the day, a 3 lbs bass.  Sorry there is no picture, I was too busy helping him out.  We had a lot of fun on all the trips and we are looking forward to the next big fun, summer camp.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Intersession Camp Fun

So as we play catch up, here's a look back at some of the fun we had at intersession camp.  The weather held out for us during the week, a few clouds and sprinkles, but mostly nice weather.  We had all sorts of adventures and explored a lot of neat places.  We tried our hand at metal detecting, to see what kind of history you could find in the ground.  In the process of metal detecting we figured out that an old small house on park property had burned down instead of just rotting.  How did we figure that out you ask?  As we were digging where a beep had sounded we found a piece of wood that was basically charcoal, so we dug more right where the house would have been and all the wood that we dug up was charcoal.  So it seems that it had burned.  Our discoveries included, old nails, old cans, metal roofing materials, large metal squares (quite heavy) and some old electrical workings.  Of course we left everything that we found, but it was neat to uncover some of the past of the park.

Of course this is a nature camp so we looked for different flora and fauna as we wandered through the park.  Here are some pictures of a few things we found:


Small turtle



The pictures above are only some of the nature discoveries that we made.  We also helped nature out a little by cutting back a lot of wisteria.  Such a nice flower, but such an aggressive invasive.  The kids felt really good about helping out the trees that were soon to be overtaken by the wisteria.  This is just part of the fun we had during intersession camp.  We are now looking forward to summer camp.  More updates of past programs soon.