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