After my Bird Walk in February, I was keeping my eyes peeled for the next one. Much to my delight, March's scheduled walk turned out to be a Frog Walk. I knew that this one was kid-friendly so I immediately signed up for Sophie and myself. Well, we had more fun than either of us had imagined!
The walk is led by a naturalist who helps identify species, point out things we wouldn't see on our own and help explain things to us. For example, I probably would've seen this print on my own but I'm not sure I'd have known it was a raccoon print.
There were these beautiful pods of yellow wildflowers all over the Greenway. They were some of the only color.
Someone walking behind us got Sophie's attention and pointed out this sweet little chipmunk.
Yep, the beaver is still around. There are signs of the beaver everywhere. They stay very busy!
At some point, the naturalist dipped his net down in the murky water below the boardwalk and came up with this painter turtle. Sophie's eyes were as wide as saucers!
She was so happy to be able to reach out and touch it! She also made sure to direct me to take a picture. My pleasure, Sophie!
The next net caught a crayfish (crawfish, crawdad....what do you call it? Have you taken the dialect quiz yet?).
Please note these are not my hands. :-)
Aaahhh, our first frog sighting. SO ADORABLE.
Yep, hello there, Mr. Frog. You are about to get yanked out of the water, I tried to warn him.
He didn't listen. We watched as the naturalist turned the frog on his back and proceeded to rub his belly. Apparently, this hypnotizes the frog! (Who says you don't learn something new every day?) I think I must have been mesmerized myself because I forgot to take a photo of his little legs splayed out, with his spotted belly all visible.
Then the kids had an opportunity to hold him. This was all fine and dandy until his spell wore off and he tried to escape. He jumped right onto one of the young teenage girls. Ha! You've never seen someone jump like that!
Seriously, how cute is he?
The weather was divine. We started out at 6:00 PM and the walk lasted 2 1/2 hours so we also enjoyed a most gorgeous sunset.
Of course you feel so proud when you find something yourself that you can share with the group. This guy was my first find. A VERY LARGE bullfrog. The largest we saw on the walk. The picture is blurry but I just wanted to share. So proud!
So the naturalist told us this was a beaver print. WHAT? It looked like BIGFOOT. I mean it was massive. I didn't believe him.
Next we found a musk turtle. Well, unlike the painter turtle, he was mad as hell. He sprayed his stinky musk and his jaws were all agape....ready to strike at any moment. Poor guy.
Can you see his mouth wide open?
Sophie could not get enough. She's walked the Greenway many, many times and I think she was surprised to learn just how many different animals are all around at any given moment. That girl spent most of the walk walking right up front beside the naturalist. As I've mentioned, I'm the dreamer/caboose always pulling up the rear. She and I are so different. And I love it!
A Nature Group from another elementary school was there....all girls.....and I could tell Sophie was really happy to have other kids to hang out with and talk to about the animals. It was REALLY NICE to be around other children who think nature is cool and don't stand around screaming....OOOH, GROSSSS. Yuck, bugs. Trees are boring! (Her classmate told me that last one after I read The Lorax in her class. Sophie replied, "WHAT? You don't know what you're talking about. Trees are AMAZING!")
Clearly, Sophie was not intimidated by the turtle's musk smell or the gaping jaws!
I don't know how to take a nice photo of the sun setting over the cattail marsh so you'll have to take my word that it was beautiful!
The darker it became, the more frogs we saw. It was fun to find them.
The highlight of all highlights......THE BEAVERS MADE AN APPEARANCE!
And I almost passed out when I saw how big this beaver was. I had no idea. That print really did belong to a beaver!!!!
Adults and kids alike were ecstatic. Seriously, our mouths were all hanging wide open. Even the naturalist couldn't believe our luck! He kept telling us how lucky we were as if we needed reminding! The girls ran down the boardwalk following the beaver as she swam along. The rest of us laughed and joked that they were like paparazzi.
Even now, as I sit in the bookshop writing this post, I still cannot believe we saw one of the beavers.
Lastly, since it was pitch dark by this time, we saw the tiny little Spring Peepers. Sophie was an expert at finding them. This teeny tiny little soul makes the loudest, most adorable, high-pitched peep. I just stood there and listened with my eyes closed. We were surrounded by a symphony of peeping and it was the sweetest sound.
At some point during the walk, Sophie stopped me, gave me a huge hug, and told me that I'm the best Mom ever for bringing her on this walk. Well, my heart melted. I felt/feel so grateful for this amazing, interesting, fun child who just happens to share my interests and enjoys and appreciates nature as much as I do!
She's already asked me several times, "Mom, when is the next walk?". "Not soon enough", I tell her....and we both smile.