It was a windy, but bright, April 1 this year. I was on a trail at Ryerson Woods with a group of volunteers. Most of our heads were focused downward, inspecting the minutiae of a bloodroot bloom. Then, someone shouted, “EAGLES!” I truly thought the next thing shouted would be “APRIL FOOLS’!” but when we snapped our heads skyward, we saw two ivory-headed eagles swooping back and forth above the trees. No joke!
I’ve spent the past few weeks scooping nets into the pond at Captain Daniel Wright Woods with 4th – 7th grade students, studying what is lurking along the mucky bottom during a Pond Study program. Before the group spreads out along the shoreline, I show the students examples of animals that make their home in the pond. By far, the item that elicits the biggest reaction is a snapping turtle shell that is the size of a dinner plate. Hands shoot up in the air, and everyone has a story about an encounter with this hulking reptile—from witnessing a female digging a nest in a backyard garden to being stopped in a traffic jam caused by a turtle crossing the road. Continue reading →