February Tracking Program for CLCT
Walt Disney couldn’t have written a better script for the Clinton Land Trust’s “Animal Tracking” day. Erik Becker, Director of Bushy Hill Nature Center, shared his vast knowledge of the outdoors with skull samples, foot print guides and teeth identification during a brief indoor presentation.
But the real education started when he moved his classroom outdoors. While climbing the steep terrain left behind by the glaciers, the kids discovered the full skeletal remains of a ??? Using the skills that were fresh in their minds, they determined the skeleton belonged to a male deer that had been scavenged by coyote. The lesson on teeth, whether for meat eating or vegetation, the location of the eye sockets determining prey or predator and the remains of where antlers had once protruded from the skull, lead them to their conclusion. Erik took the amazing opportunity to explain how nothing in nature goes to waste, showed how the mice were using the fur for nesting, how the sharp rib bones were used for tools and how many living organisms were benefiting from the death of the deer. The kids were mesmerized, blurting out questions and observations.
Trekking further along the woodland trail, evidence of woodpecker feeding, termite housing and where an owl had spent the night and coughed up a pellet containing the indigestible parts of his last meal kept the kids totally engaged. Erik ended the program by impressing the group with a fire demonstration using only sticks, cedar tinder and straw.
As parents came to pick up their kids, the excitement of what they had seen and learned bubbled over into their conversations. A good time was had by all and the program was a huge success.
Thanks go to the Clinton Park and Rec. for co-sponsoring this free program with the Land Trust and to Erik Becker whose teaching skills are remarkable. Please view the amazing slide show of photos put together of the event by Amy Trahant, a professional photographer who volunteers her time and photos to the Clinton Land Trust.