Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Have You Seen Wild Turkeys in Durham, NC

Thinking about the upcoming holiday I thought I would talk about wild turkeys and their presence in Durham and Durham County. 

For those of you would are surprised by the reality of wild turkeys living in Durham city limits, just think for a minute about the protected areas we have in Durham County.  First off there is all of the Army Corp land that surrounds upper Falls Lake and the rivers that flow into Falls Lake, the Eno, Little, and Flat.  A quote from the Army Corp web site: "The reservoir covers almost 12,500 acres with water, and is surrounded by 25,500 acres of public land. The dam is located just outside of Raleigh, and the lake stretches 22 miles upstream to the confluence of the Eno, Flat, and Little Rivers near Durham."  So think about 25,000 acres of mostly protected land, joining up with City property on the lower Flat River that runs all the way up to Lake Michie and then above the lake, protected land continues up the Flat River to where NC State has a forest, "The G. W. Hill Demonstration Forest is a 2,450-acre forest in Durham County".   Then factor in the protected land joining Corp land on the Eno River that goes from city land, several parks including West Point on the Eno, to the Eno River State Park (4,000+ acres).  Then add in the protected land the city owns around Little River Reservoir which lies just above Falls Lake.

All told we are looking at 35,000+ acres of protected land on the northern, eastern, and western sides of Durham for Turkeys to live on. That is a lot of great habitat right next to Durham. Turkeys are well established in northern Durham County and they are right here in the City of Durham. Some locations that I have seen Turkeys in city limits are, of course West Point on the Eno. There have been turkeys at the park for over 10 years. I have also seen Turkeys at the City's Fleet Maintenance shop off Camden Ave and at the old city landfill. These two locations are close to Ellerbee Creek which runs down to Army Corp land and eventually Falls Lake.

Here is a good starting map of the Corp Land around Falls Lake, you can see the connections to the Durham County Rivers and their protected land.  Notice how much of the Corp land is in the upper reaches of Falls Lake  http://216.27.39.120/mapbook/

Here is a link to NCSU's Hill Forest http://friendsofhillforest.org/maps/HillForestTrailmap-v2-3-topo.html if you move south on the map you can see the connection to Lake Michie then Falls Lake

Here is a map of the wild Turkey population in North Carolina in 2005.
 
As you can see, the turkey population 7 years ago was pretty dense in northern Durham County, it only makes sense that they will continue to spread into viable habitat , which includes inside the city limits. 
 
Here are some pics of Wild Turkeys
 




Instead of just eating Turkey, go out and look for wild Turkeys in your Durham County back yard.

Let us know where you have seen wild Turkeys in Durham and have a safe holiday period.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sunset Canoe Trip on Lake Michie

Hello and how are you today.  We had a great Sunset Paddle this past weekend up at Lake Michie.  The weather cooporated and the evening light was beautiful. 

We took a leisurely paddle down the lake to an active beaver lodge. 









We got out by the lodge and walked around looking for signs of beaver activity and of course we marveled at the lodge itself.
 
 
After leaving the lodge we paddle some more down the lake.  Along the way we saw Great Blue Heron's, bats, a Kingfisher, some ducks from a distance, and at the end a large flock of Geese.  This was a beautiful evening and we hope that you come and join us on our next paddle on December 14.
 


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sunset Paddle Lake Michie

Hello,
Well this Saturday, November 10, from 4-6pm we have a Sunset Paddle up at Lake Michie in northern Durham County.  This should be a really nice day as the weather looks to be warm and clear.  So come out and join us on this fun, relaxing evening paddle where we should be able to see and hear some of the varied wildlife that lives in Durham County.  Here are some pictures from a past Sunset Paddle.  The cost is $6 (city residents) and $8 (non-city residents).  We provide boats if you don't have your own, or you can bring your own canoe or kayak on the paddle. 


 

Please call 919-560-4405 (ext 6) to get more information on the paddle and how to register.  Or you can email me at Christopher.Shepard@durhamnc.gov
 

Learn how to stop the Cankerworms at Northgate Park


Greetings and hello.

                Weather conditions have turned on a dime and I fear the female fall cankerworms  will be emerging soon to do their thing and lay lots of eggs in our trees.  I’m emailing you to let you know that (at long last and with almost no advance warning) I will be out tomorrow evening to band trees in an effort to control the canker worms in the area of Northgate Park.

Actually, I will branch out into other areas, but I will start at NP, tomorrow, at 5:30.  If you are interested in getting your own kit to band your own trees and see a demo, please come.  If You can’t I will do my best to let interested folks know when they might meet me while I’m out banding trees so as to get a quick demo and grab a kit.  

I cannot charge for these kits, but a suggested donation to Keep Durham Beautiful will insure that the funds spent on these kits will go back to planting trees on city right-of-way and in parks.  Suggested donation for a “small’ kit will be $10 and for a large one $15.

Details will be available to any and all-comers.  Please share with those who might be interested. 

Cub Blvd. entrance to Northgate Park (between Acadia and Glendale) 5:30-6:30

Alex

 
Alex Johnson, RF, CA, BS

Urban Forestry Manager

City of Durham, General Services Dept.

2011 Fay St. 27704

(919) 560-4197 ext. 21275

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hallow-Eno fun at West Point on the Eno

Don't forget that tonight is the 24th Annual Halloweno event at West Point on the Eno Park.  There will be a Hay Ride, Story Telling by a Campfire, Face Painting, a Performance by YPPC, the Scrap Exchange will be there, Pupkin Bridge, and of course treats at the McCown-Mangum House. 

All the fun happens between 6-9pm and is free.  So dress your kids up and come on out, and if you don't have kids, dress yourself up and come out.  Fun for everyone.  If you don't have a costume you can make one with the Scrap Exchange. 

 
West Point on the Eno is located at 5101 N Roxboro Rd, Durham, NC 27704


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Can you spot the snake? Part 1: Copperhead Camouflage


     Thanks to the recent weather from hurricane Sandy, most of the leaves have blown off the trees covering the trails at West Point on the Eno...making it almost impossible to spot a copperhead!  As I was walking on the Buffalo trail over the weekend, I stepped inches away from the snake in the picture.  I didn’t see it until I heard a rustling in the leaves beside my foot.  When I looked down and realized what I almost stepped on, I found myself thanking the snake for its quick reflexes and choice to flee!

Can you spot the copperhead on the trail?








Thursday, October 25, 2012

Northgate Park and Lake Michie

Hey everyone,
Just a reminder that we will be having a Moonlight Paddle at Lake Michie on Friday and a Spider's Web program at Northgate Park this Saturday.  You can read about them in previous post
http://westpointnaturalists.blogspot.com/2012/10/moonlight-paddle-at-lake-michie-and.html

I just wanted to give you a great link to look at for spider identification here in North Carolina.  I really like the pictures and the best part is that a lot of these come from Durham and Orange Counties. 
Enjoy!

http://dpughphoto.com/spiders.htm

If you have any questions about upcoming programs feel free to call me at 919-560-4405 ext 6

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spiders in Northgate Park

Hey Everyone,
Hope you are enjoying this warm fall weather.  There is no good excuse not to get outside at some point every day with this weather we are having. 

So this Saturday we will be leading a program at Northgate Park called Spider's Web.  We will talk about spiders, how they are different from insects, talk about some of their unique features, and then we will go out and look for spiders and their webs.  Not only are spiders interesting, but their webs are facinating to look at too.  Here are some we have seen recently.

 









Click on the bottom right picture and take a look at the abdomen...

The Spider's Web program runs from 10am-12pm.  We will meet at parking lot by the tennis courts.  From there we will walk along the greenway looking for our hairy legged friends. 

You must preregister for the program.  Cost is $6 (city resident). 
You can call me at 919-560-4405 (opt 6), email at christopher.shepard@durhamnc.gov  

or you can register online at https://online.activenetwork.com/dprplaymore/Start/Start.asp and enter the barcode 8359 into the search bar and it will take you right to the program.  All children must be registered with an adult.

We also have a Moonlight Paddle this Friday from 7-9pm at Lake Michie if you are interested in joining us, you can register the same way and we do have City boats available.  Cost is $6 (city residents) for that program and the barcode is 8379.  All children must be registered with an adult.

And for the multitudes of people that read this blog, become a follower of the blog. Make us feel good and you'll get notified when we put up new post.  Fun. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Moonlight Paddle and new farm with Durham County Public Schools

Hey Everyone,
I just wanted to let you know that this Saturday, from 9am-1pm will be the Vine Cutting ceremony at the new Durham County Public Schools farm.  Check out this link for more information.  http://www.facebook.com/DPSHubFarm

I bet you may be wondering why City Environmental Educators are posting about a County site?  Well we will be running some programs here too.  Not only is this going to be a farm site, but also this will be an Environmental Education site.  If wonderful things happen, West Point and this site will be joined by a walking path. This is an exciting project and will definitely benefit everyone in Durham County one way or another.  So come out Saturday and check it out, we'll be there with a booth and we will be leading a Nature Navigation program at 10:30am.

Also don't forget about our upcoming Wonders of Lake Michie Program on Friday, October 26 from 7-9pm at Lake Michie.



We also will be running a Spider Program on Saturday, October 27 from 10am-12pm at Northgate Park. 

You can sign up for these programs at https://online.activenetwork.com/dprplaymore/Start/Start.asp
The course id# for Lake Michie is 8379
The course id# for Spiders is 8359
Just put in the course number at the top and it will take you to the registration screen, if you have not registered before you will need to set up an account.  A parent must be registered with any children.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Moonlight Paddle at Lake Michie and Spider program...


So coming up on Friday, October 26 we have a Moonlight Paddle program at beautiful Lake Michie.  The program will run from 7-9pm and the cost is $6 (city residents) and $8 (non-city residents).  We do have city boats that you can use if you don't have your own canoe or kayak.  You must pre-register and I will attach the link at the bottom of the post.  Here are some pictures from past Lake Michie programs.






As you can see the evening and night can be a beautiful time to be out on the water.











On Saturday, October 27 we have a Spider Program at Northgate Park.  Fall is a great time to get out and see lots of different types of spiders and their webs and this will be a great chance to learn all about our eight legged friends.  This program is from 10am-12pm and the cost is $6 (city residents) and $8(non-city residents).  You also must preregister for this program.  Here is a spider we saw at our intersession camp.
look closely at it's abdomen
To register for programs you can go to https://online.activenetwork.com/dprplaymore/Start/Start.asp

If it is your first time there you will have to set up and account. If you wish to register for the Paddle program the barcode is 8379.  If you wish to register for the Spider program the barcode is 8359.  A parent must be registered with a child for any Environmental Education Programs.  You will have to set up an account for each member of your family if you are not already in the system

If you have any questions about these or any Environmental Education Programs please call me at 919.560.4405 (ext 6) or email me at christopher.shepard@durhamnc.gov

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Baby Copperhead - Intersession Camp - Mushrooms

So last week was our second and final week of intersession nature camp.  We had a great two weeks.  The wet weather we have had created a mushroom bonanza in the forest.  This fall intersession was full of more mushrooms than I can remember at any other intersession.  We took some photos such as...
 
Now mushrooms aren't the only fun we had this week.  We also went over by the pond at the amphitheater entrance and while looking in the forest, we started to find old golf balls (the colorful kind).  Well since we were just below the old putt-putt I guess it made sense.  So we started searching through the leaf litter and 40+ golf balls later we figured we had done a good job cleaning up near the pond. Our cleaning efforts also rewarded us with some balls from the batting cage and a broken putter, that would be fixed very soon.  Nothing better than getting to keep what you cleaned up out of the forest.  Now the other thing that we saw was how nature is working to reclaim the putt-putt course itself.  Pretty impressive how fast things can grow over what we make.  I am sure that someday soon the lot will get sold and it will all get cleared out again, but for now nature is taking back land that once belonged to it. 
 
So with golf balls in hand and a fixed putter, what else can you do but build a nature putt-putt course.  Five holes made out of found materials.  After all our work it was time for the 1st Annual Eno Intersession Nature Camp putt-putt tournament.  Here are a couple of pictures.

Stuck in the trap



Concentration















So I won't divulge who the winner was, but let's say the adults showed the campers how to putt-putt.  Maybe in the spring the camper can get a rematch.

On our last day out in the woods on week 2, we came across a baby copperhead in the woods.  Of course that was the one day we didn't have the camera with us.  I know, I know, we might as well be telling you we saw Sasquatch but didn't have our camera.  But we did see a copperhead and it looked a lot like...
Photo from http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/gaston/Pests/reptiles/chamo.htm


 As pretty as it was, it also helped us remember that there were probably others close by as the mother probably had more than one.  Copperheads are interesting in that they do not lay eggs, but rather have live births.  That's all for today, we'll talk to you soon.







Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fungus Among Us - West Point on the Eno


     While most of us have noticed a white mushroom hanging out in our yard after a rain,  we may not have realized that North Carolina is home to a diverse rainbow of fungi!  





When walking through the forest at West Point on the Eno, it doesn’t take long to feel like you have suddenly stumbled into a scene from Alice in Wonderland!
   


    


      If you are interested in learning more about local wild fungi, join us this Saturday, October 6th from 10-12 while we discover many of the different species of West Point on the Eno.  We will spend time collecting specimens, observing various characteristics, and using field guides and keys to try to identify what we find.  If you have your own field guide, please bring it along.


*For more information or to register, please contact Christopher Shepard*

christopher.shepard@durhamnc.gov
(919)560-4405 option 6

To register online, use course id# 8385 https://online.activenetwork.com/dprplaymore/Start/start.asp

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Spider’s Web West Point on the Eno

     As the weather begins to cool down a bit with fall approching, I have been magnetically attracted to the trails at West Point on the Eno.  I love to walk around on what I call my nature scavenger hunt searching for anything that catches my eye.
Do you notice something different about the legs of this spider? 
   


     On one of my recent walks, I decided to take the path toward the bridge.  As I approached,  I just happened to look to my left  where I found this black and yellow garden spider.  As it sat perfectly still in the center of its web, I took out my cell phone and snapped a few pictures.  
    


     

    
     As soon as I got home, I couldn’t wait to upload my pictures and get a closer look.  All kinds of questions ran through my head.  What is the “real” name of this spider?  Is it a male or female?  Why do these spiders have a zig-zag in their webs?  
   
     I ended up finding a great *website with all of the answers to my questions and so much more!  As it turns out, this garden spider is called an Argiope and it is a female.  She is larger than her male counterpart and is much more colorful.  She will likely lay an egg sac containing hundreds of eggs, and then she will die by the first hard frost.  Her eggs will hatch soon, but the baby spiders will stay dormant until spring when the emerge from the egg sac.  
     
     Scientists seem to have several theories on the zig-zag pattern in the center of the web.  Some believe it is to make the web more visible to birds so they don’t accidentally fly into the web destroying it.  What do you think it could be for?

*for more info, visit http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Argiope_aurantia/     
  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Intersession Nature Camp

Hey Everyone,
So dormant this blog has been.  Karuna and I are back to keep you up to date on what we are doing and what we are seeing in the forest and waterways here in Durham. 

Coming up next week, September 24 - September 28 and the week after, October 1 - October 5 are our week long intersession camps.  We still have spaces available for the week of October 1-5 so call us, email us, or register online.  You don't want your children to miss out on fun like this...

 From hiking in creeks and catching
macroinvertebrates, to fishing, seeing the
different animals that live in the park,
and of course exploring the Eno River,
your child can have a lot of fun and learn a
lot of new things about their local environment.




So email me christopher.shepard@durhamnc.gov or give me a call at 919-560-4405 (ext6) to get more information and to register for this great camp.  The camp is for ages 6-12.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Eno Discovery Nature Camp

     
We had an exciting summer of Nature Camp at West Point on the Eno, and I am definitely missing the kids!!!  Check out these pictures that show just a glimpse of the fun we had.


Friday adventure at Sennett Hole.
The biggest leaf.

Fun with the waterproof camera.
The biggest shelter at Eno Discovery on record.








Building a canoe...hoping it will float!
Balancing rock sculptures.

One of many gnome homes.












Under water fun.

Tubing at Sennett Hole
We do have a half day Fall Nature Camp coming up the week of September 24th-28th and the following week of October 1st-5th.  

For more information or to register, contact Christopher Shepard 
christopher.shepard@durhamnc.gov (919)560-4405 option 6

you may go online using course id #8480 and #8927
https://online.activenetwork.com/DPRPlayMore/Start/Start.asp

The Wonders of Lake Michie at Sunset


     Our next sunset paddle is coming up next Friday, September 21st at Lake Michie!  Join us from 6:30-8:30 for a relaxing evening on the lake.
     I am looking forward to a tranquil paddle while we watch the sun set and observe the wildlife of the area.  If we are lucky, we will hear some splashing or see the wake of a beaver swimming near the shore.  Who can think of a better way to spend a Friday night?




For more information or to register, contact Christopher Shepard
christopher.shepard@durhamnc.gov  (919)560-4405 option 6

You may also go online using course id # 8381 https://online.activenetwork.com/DPRPlayMore/Start/Start.asp 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Night Hike

   

 What an adventure we had Friday night at West Point on the Eno during our most recent Night Hike.  We started  the evening seeing a cluster of eyeshine high in a tree near the river.  At first, we thought it was owl or perhaps some opossum, but as we got a better look, it turned out to be the cutest baby raccoons climbing around the branches.   After seeing the raccoons, we decided to head across the bridge and explore the North side of the river. 
  
    


The bridge seemed to be the hot spot for orb weaver spiders, who we found weaving away in preparation for their nightly catch.  No matter how many times I come across an orb weaver's web, I am totally amazed at their giant works of art...they are so cool!


    


     Continuing along the trail, there was no shortage of wildlife.  We came across more spiders, a toad, and even a Northern Banded Water Snake.  Judging by the bulge, we thought it was likely that she just finished gobbling down a fish.
  
     Thank you to all the participants for joining me on the Night Hike, I look forward to the next one in December.







Saturday, September 1, 2012

Night Hike West Point on the Eno

     Thank you to everyone who attended the Night Hike last Friday at West Point on the Eno.  We ended up having to rely on our headlamps and flashlights to navigate the trails that night, and I was unsure if we were going to be able to spot the wildlife.  
     As we took to the trails, we tip toed along listening for the noises of the nocturnal animals.  Although we were hoping for some hoots and howls, we heard nothing but the loud chorus of cicadas! Walking on, we scanned the sides on the trails with our lights.  We came upon a beautiful assortment of brightly colored mushrooms and tons of spiders in their webs waiting for their night meal.  The forest seemed to be enchanted with glittery sparkles on all of the trees left behind by the slugs. 
    
     Just when we thought the night belonged to the bugs, we managed to light up some eyeshine...it was a white tailed deer!  We stood quiet and watched her as she quickly ran off into the darkness of the forest.  Finally, as we were returning to the Environmental Education Center, one last nocturnal creature made an appearance.  We spotted the eyeshine moving across the gravel road and followed it over to the edge of the woods where we got a good look and determined it was a gray fox. 
    

I had a great time that night and look forward to our next Night Hike coming up on *Friday, September 7th from 9-11 pm...See you there!

*You may register online with course id number 8383 at  https://online.activenetwork.com/dprplaymore/Start/Start.asp
 For more information, please call (919)560-4405 option 6 or email Karuna Markman at karuna.markman@durhamnc.gov