November always proves to be an interesting month for exploring the BSES Nature Trail! Most of the songbird migration has moved through, but we annually find beautiful fall colors, evidence of the animals who call the trail their winter home, and always a few bird surprises!
Eighteen students and I ventured onto the trail in search of all we could find on our November afternoon, and the action started the second we stepped out of BSES! First, we were greeted by a massive flyover flock of Common Grackes. I approximated 2000 birds, and this flyover flock followed along the treetops as we headed down the trail. The students were definitely excited to see such a huge number of birds flying so low and close to us. We could even hear their wingbeats as they passed!
Next, we encountered quite a few piles of scat from our resident Red Foxes. Believe it or not, one can identify an animal's presence by the type of scat they leave behind. We found three piles along the main trail (one of which was on the manhole right outside the trailhead) where this fox seems to be marking its territory. We didn't get to see the fox itself, but we saw definite evidence of this fox being on the trail within just a few minutes of our arrival!
After strolling through the forest, we paused in a few places to practice some tree and leaf identification! The students seem to love the Tulip Poplar leaf as it looks like a silhouette of a cat's face. Specifically, I think it looks like Sylvester the Cat's face from Looney Tunes! We had students collect their leaves so we can see how different they can look this time of year. After we talked about Tulip Poplars, we observed all the different sizes and shapes of American Beech that we have peppered throughout the forest.
By the end of the hike, we found a total of 14 different bird species, lots of fox evidence, a super cool variety of fall foliage, and we made it back before the rain arrived. I would say this afternoon was a great success!!! Thanks to all who got involved!
Bethel Springs E.S.--Nature Trail, Delaware, Pennsylvania, US Nov 9, 2017 3:30 PM - 4:32 PM Protocol: Traveling 0.6 mile(s) Comments: Checklist taken from Trailblazers Nature Exploration walk for grades 1-2 led by Mr. BQ. Conditions were cool and cloudy, but not too chilly. Temperatures were in the mid 50s. Best bird highlight included a large number of Common Grackle flyover flocks. Best non-bird highlight included three piles of Red Fox scat, with two on the main trail and one on a manhole in the parking lot by the trailhead. 14 species Mourning Dove 1 Northern Flicker 1 Blue Jay 1 American Crow 4 American Robin 19 European Starling 25 Estimate Cedar Waxwing 5 Dark-eyed Junco 5 White-throated Sparrow 8 Song Sparrow 2 Northern Cardinal 2 Red-winged Blackbird 150 Estimate Common Grackle 2000 Conservative estimate. Large flocks seen flying over playground and the presumed same flocks again over the main trail as we approached the footbridge. House Finch 1