Forest Friday – Oakfield Park

We had a wonderful day today at Oakfield park as part of Dawn’s Forest Friday group where we get together and learn about nature while going on a walk through the woods. It’s always a lot of fun for the boys and myself – I always have my trusty iPhone and rubber band macro handy (so much easier than my DSLR for these kinds of things!).

Warning: I took many photos and most of them are included! So fun!

Since reading Gathering Moss I find I am more in love with mosses if that’s possible.
IMG_6288 Lady Slippers! I love Nova Scotia for its abundance of this beautiful orchid – you just have to know where to look…IMG_6289 I am a big rock lover and in turning one over I found some busy ants. I think I made them busy by exposing them! They hurriedly carried all the babes into their underground home. Mama was a big one and was the first to disappear down the hole!IMG_6291 British Soldier lichenIMG_6293 Irises – I just love wildflowers!IMG_6294 IMG_6295 Spiders are the coolest. IMG_6297 IMG_6299 Dawn created this super fun exercise where we place masking tape (or duct tape) on our wrist or onto a sheet of paper sticky side out. Then we find flowers, acorns, whatever strikes our fancy and stick them on.  IMG_6300 IMG_6303 I enjoyed this so much that I wore my ‘bracelets’ into the grocery store and Tim Horton’s afterward!IMG_6304Lightening bugs mating! Summer is the season of love…! ;)
IMG_6306 This guy was hanging around the lovers. I dare say he was quite the voyer!IMG_6308 IMG_6309 IMG_6310 I bought a bird/nature journal a couple of weeks ago. I could have used a basic journal but this one has some great quotes and nest illustrations in it so I couldn’t help myself. I think I will use it for a flower press too and then write down what happened on that specific day. :) IMG_6313 A wee little daddy longlegs.IMG_6317 I love this guy. He hung out on my thumb for a long time. We played together: I would gently raise his leg and he would hold it there. I’d raise it a little further and he’d still hold it there. I’d lower it down and he’d again hold it there. I think he was humouring me (simple human…).IMG_6321 Mushrooms! Love mushrooms! I haven’t checked the type of this one yet but had to show a couple of photos for details of the gills…IMG_6322 …and the webbing across the top…IMG_6323 The kids became completely absorbed in playing in the woods and surrounding field – as kids should and it makes me sooo happy! Xman was in the woods and found this dragonfly just coming out of its nymph skin. I have never seen this before. It was THE COOLEST thing I’ve seen in a while. I’m sure I will see something just as cool tomorrow because Nature is that way but for today, this was THE BESTEST.IMG_6326 Beautiful life. IMG_6328If you aren’t familiar with Dawn’s Forest Friday and are in the Halifax, Nova Scotia region you can find out all about it here.

She also has a workshop coming up on her and Annie’s Mud Puddles to Meteors site that I am so excited about called Mud Puddles Summer Nature Camp. It’s an online workshop so you can be anywhere in the world and still participate. It’s gonna be awesome! Hope to see you there!

 

Gathering Moss

I just finished this book and loved it so much I had to share. I originally mentioned it on my art blog so I did a review post over there too. Click on over if you’d like to read about it. I hope you will. :)

gathering moss

Conrad’s Beach

One of THE BEST things about living in Nova Scotia is that you do not have to go far at all to find yourself in a natural surrounding. Yesterday morning we went with friends to our usual park and trails and this afternoon to a beach.

Oh, what a great day! I’m pooped! But it was worth it because the weather was amazing and we were in the company of good friends. What could be better?

IMG_6075 The water was freezing but that certainly didn’t stop these boys!IMG_6076 IMG_6077 IMG_6078 IMG_6088 Digging, digging, digging! I love that they still become so enthralled with sand and all of the things you can create.IMG_6095I found this amazing shell with some coral anchored into the top. Nova Scotia coral is often white and very small.

IMG_6082 IMG_6084 After taking a good look I had to bring it home to draw. It reminds me so much of a heart with all of its veins and arteries. Goodness, it’s just the coolest.IMG_6083And then there was this guy making the most of an amazing day. Totally.IMG_6100

Everyday Nature

The boys and I are having a great time participating in Dawn’s Everyday Nature for Families workshop! It’s a ten day workshop and every day we receive a pdf with different ways of connecting with nature, easy ways to connect in our busy world. Even though we are often outside I found that doing this workshop has me thinking about what we do and what we see in new ways.

Today Dawn encouraged us to take another perspective and imagine what it must be like to be a bug out there in the world. Life is completely different from their point of view. So, tonight we all went outside and got down low to the ground or up close to the plants and trees and we found some very cool things!

Forget Me Nots have hair on their buds!

IMG_6010 IMG_6018A bug walking on lichen on a tree must be like us walking barefoot on gravel.IMG_6019 I recently planted grass seed and it’s begun to sprout!IMG_6020 Moss everywhere! I love moss!IMG_6022 Samaras are just beautiful.IMG_6024 After the rain…IMG_6025 The bark was peeled off a downed tree and this was what was underneath. It looks like skin to me.IMG_6028 The beginnings of moss or lichen in the medicine wheel garden. I think it’s lichen…we shall see…IMG_6031 Love those dandelion seeds!IMG_6033 This sowbug looks like it’s traveling in a dense rain forest! So, so cool!IMG_6037 I found this as well in the medicine wheel garden. It was attached to a downed twig and when I moved it it release some spores into the air and on me!IMG_6040 A fern frond with…eggs?IMG_6042 A columbine bud. Such rich colour and all those hairs!IMG_6044 This wee little guy was in our herb garden walking on legs that look very translucent (and a bit hairy).IMG_6047 I was surprised to see dew from this morning still hanging on the Lady’s Mantle by dinnertime. Can you imagine being an aphid trudging through those hairs?IMG_6048 I had to see up close how our Virginia Creeper holds onto our maple tree. Amazing!IMG_6056 Prickly raspberry buds!IMG_6059 Our first ladybug larvae of the season! Yay! IMG_6063A busy ant. I love how cute it looks..and that fuzzy body!IMG_6071 Soil still clinging to the new grass. IMG_6074

If you would like to learn more about getting outside yourself or with your kids you can visit Dawn’s website as well as Mud Puddles to Meteors, run by both Dawn and Annie, where you can sign up for newsletters and join their Facebook group.

 

 

Global Big Day – the bird count!

On May 9 (yes, I’m a little behind in my posts because I greatly detest editing photos!) we had an amazing time outdoors counting birds for Global Big Day.

Global Big Day happens once a year as part of Cornell Lab of Ornithology events. The goal is to find and record as many bird species possible worldwide. The boys had the binoculars and their phones for the app and I had my camera while Stephen took note of species spotted and how many.

The first place we went was Porter’s Lakes Trail just across the street from our library. There are so many trails in Nova Scotia you don’t have to drive too far at all to find one – many are in the city!

I think this nest belonged to the American Goldfinch that we heard and spotted nearby.09May2015_Bird Count_01 We had seen this osprey nest from a distance many times on our way to the library for years but never went on this trail. We were excited to get so close to both the mother and father! They were clearly used to all of the people walking on the trail – they just ignored us all.09May2015_Bird Count_30There were also many signs of beavers…
09May2015_Bird Count_38 09May2015_Bird Count_81

The Merlin Bird ID app was extremely useful in not only identifying bird species but also in matching certain bird calls to the bird before we saw it! At our first location I heard a bird call I did not recognize and the boys used their app to find that it was the Red-winged Blackbird. I was so excited because when I lived in Wisconsin as a child they were my favourite bird. I had heard that they spent time in Nova Scotia but I had yet to see one so I was very excited to know that the bird call was indeed a Red-winged Blackbird. This picture is the bird reacting to the call on the app!

09May2015_Bird Day_63 There also just happened to be a geocache in the area so why not find it?!09May2015_Bird Count_83 And of course a wooly-bear caterpillar!09May2015_Bird Count_85 I am not sure what tree this was as there were yet to be any leaves but it reminded me of an oak.09May2015_Bird Count_88

 

From here we went to another location about 20 minutes away. We were totally psyched after seeing the blackbird and osprey, plus a Yellow-rumped Warbler whose was camera shy. I was told of a place where there was a blue heron and osprey so we crossed our fingers…

09May2015_Bird Count_161As we walked onto the trail there above us hovered an osprey searching for fish in the waters below. It was quite an experience to watch and were awed by its ability to just float in one spot in the air, catching the currents.09May2015_Bird Count_18209May2015_Bird Day_218Of the times I caught the osprey with my camera diving for fish, I’d say 85-90% of the time it came out with a fish.

09May2015_Bird Count_189 09May2015_Bird Count_19009May2015_Bird Count_191 09May2015_Bird Count_195 09May2015_Bird Count_196The tree swallows were so fast that it was very challenging to get a decent picture. They were also hanging around the osprey as you can see in the photos above.09May2015_Bird Day_187A Common Grackle. Part of the Crow family but with this beautiful blue/purple neck.

09May2015_Bird Day_110A Yellow-rumped Warbler (twice), a Downy Woodpecker and a pair of Goldfinches.

09May2015_Bird Day_12709May2015_Bird Day_264 09May2015_Bird Day_134 09May2015_Bird Count_137We saw the Blue Heron but it was on the other side of the marsh and my lens just wasn’t long enough to take a decent photo. Boo. :(

I cannot go to any trail without a picture of some moss these days!

09May2015_Bird Count_163

Double-crested Cormorant with a fish!
09May2015_Bird Count_177We really just couldn’t get enough of that osprey. Look at those wings!

09May2015_Bird Day_228 09May2015_Bird Day_260 09May2015_Bird Day_261

We did a lot walking that day and all got a bit tired. A huge overturned tree is a great place to take a rest!

09May2015_Bird Count_144My silly boys! Those binoculars were just purchased last Christmas and they are amazing! Bushnell Bone Collector Trophy 10×42′s in case you are wondering. Water and fog proof. Just right for Nova Scotia! ;)09May2015_Bird Count_155 Haha!09May2015_Bird Count_150

It’s hard to believe we saw all these amazing birds so close to home – you can see an apartment complex in the background above.

Below are our findings for the day. Can’t wait for next year!

Airmail

Airmail

 

 

 

Egg Geodes!

We love doing science projects but sometimes when they are time-based we tend to forget about them.

That’s what happened when we started our egg geodes! We had mixed boiled water with salt, epsom, and borax – each separately and added a bit of food colouring to them to tell the difference (for fun) and labeled them with tape.

For the first few days the boys were peeking to see what was happening with the eggs. The salt and borax mixtures showed changes during this time. By the second week I think the water had for the most part evaporated. But the epsom salt had us wondering if anything would happen as it stayed as a liquid with no crystals to speak of. At that point the boys started to grow less interested and eventually I forgot about them too! This was done in mid-April.

IMG_5561And here we are in June. :)

It was worth the wait to see the results! Okay, it really didn’t take this long but it took me this long to finally get around to posting the results! But it was probably a month before the water in the epsom salt fully evaporated.

The salt crystals reminded us of the salt deposits in caves and the crystals were cubic in shape. These eggs were also the only ones that formed deposits at the top edge of the egg.

IMG_5932

The borax crystals were much smaller which made it more difficult to see their shape but are apparently they are prismatic – and very sparkly!

IMG_5933We all agreed that the epsom egg geodes were the coolest and worth the wait! The crystals were long and kind of spiky in shape. There were a huge pile of them in the bottom of the egg!

IMG_5931

Here is a neat site if you want to try to grow your own crystals and really, who wouldn’t because they are just so neat! ;)

This link is for growing your own egg geodes. It’s a little more in-depth than the one we used. We got ours from the Tinkerlab book but it’s also on their website. The book is very cool, though!

 

 

 

Emerald Falls

Yesterday we got a chance to visit a trail we have heard about from a friend many times and seen some pretty cool photos as well. The weather has always been the kicker so myself and the boys were excited to get a chance to explore here.

I have posted a lot of pictures because I had a hard time choosing what with such wonderful new life on the forest floor and other places!

It was quite a steep trek up but the sound of the rushing water made us want to make it to the top!

03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_6803Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_06Xman was enjoying poking at the soapy froth – it was pretty cool, I have to say.
03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_09Here is a bit of it dried up on a stick overhanging the water. So glad that I brought my macro lens along! My camera bag was heavy but it was worth it – and a good workout up the hill. :) 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_4403Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_17 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_18 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_26 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_31

A miniature first filled with a life of its own!03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_33 The boys love seeing the evidence of beetles.03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_46 It’s not often I get a photo of myself with my boys! Thanks, Dawn! ;) 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_62 The walk down was somewhat tricky in spots but hand-holding made it that much easier.03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_7103Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_84 I just love the little fiddleheads!03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_91 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_93 Dawn spotted this spotted gall – she has an eye for them – and the oaks. ;) 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_96 …and this wing…from a June beetle. Poor dude.03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_99 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_104 Love the droplets!03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_109 This guy was superbusy and supertiny! and just would not take the time to pose for a portrait.03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_112 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_119 Puddles do not ever go unnoticed – so fun!03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_138 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_14403Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_146It’s a whole other world out there that amazes me in so, so many ways. Great beauty and wonder.

I just recently checked out this book from the library. I love love love moss. Can’t wait to read it!

gathering moss book