Saturday, April 30, 2011

We Went Outside!

As discussed previously, to participate in the Children & Nature Network's Let's G.O. (Get Outside)! month, we attended the Spring Festival at the Shipley Nature Center in Huntington Beach.

There were two maypoles, one for little kidlets and one for older kidlets. But there were some older women who were sort of running the maypole activity that were REALLY serious about them doing it correctly. They kept stopping the music and the kids and trying to explain things. At first I thought it was just misguided attempts to control the chaos inherent in children. Then I settled on the more entertaining notion that these women were in fact witches and NEEDED these maypoles to be wrapped correctly for their own purposes, entertaining children was just a ruse.
In the center of this picture, the less shiny black things that look like leaves are actually a mourning cloak butterfly. The Wee Bairn and I joined a guided tour to the Monarch Waystation inside the Shipley Nature Center. The guide was awesome. He was great at spotting and identifying butterflies. He also was my kind of crotchety old retired teacher. He was all crabby about invasive species and "sanitary" landfills. I bet when he watches Jurassic Park he roots for the dinosaurs. I'd invite him on all of my nature hikes if I could.
Also on our tour we learned what those little white fluff balls that float around this time of year are: the seeds of black willow trees and mule fat.

Yup, a plant called "mule fat." We also learned about insect galls. Which led to this parenting moment observed:

10-year-old-ish daughter upon taking a DIGITAL picture of an insect gall: I got a great picture!
Mom to 10-year-old-ish daughter: Stop! I don't want pictures of ugly things. Why do you take pictures of ugly things? Stop taking pictures of that.

We learned that duck weed, an example of which is perched on the tip of our guide's finger, is the smallest flowering plant.
We also spotted a female hummingbird on the trail.
At the end of the tour we stopped by the Vermiculture Center to learn about worms. Here they're showing us a worm egg.
Watching over us as we learned about worms was a tree swallow sitting in its nesting box.

We also learned about the Nature Scene Investigator program run by Get Outdoors! OC (again with the exclamation points). We might have to look into this for B!ome Tour 20!!!

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