Our third and final week of Trailblazers camp for the season was an excellent conclusion to our best summer yet!
Our first day featured our usual introduction of both the Bethel Springs Elementary School Nature Trail and the Concord Elementary School Nature Trail. Our morning on the BSES Nature Trail started with a pretty ordinary bird walk until we stumbled upon a frenzy of activity on the baseball field. Upon closer inspection, we observed a large group of Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures eating the carcass of what looked to be a Red Fox!!!! It was amazing to see such action so early in the week! Students enjoyed views through binoculars and scopes of these vultures preying on the fox in addition to some tussles from the vultures. Black Vultures by nature are a more aggressive species than the Turkey Vultures, and by the end of the feeding, the Black Vultures had chased off all the Turkey Vultures! This exciting morning made it tough to top for our afternoon portion, but students loved spending time walking in Webb Creek on the hot day!
Exton Park is another favorite field trip location for Trailblazers! This year, conditions were exceptionally hot, making our time on the trail shorter than usual. We did our usual loop around the main pond, and as we circled around the lower ponds of Exton Park, we were surprised we hadn't seen any heron species! We were treated to a large flock of about 75 Red-winged Blackbirds feeding in the cornfields, but no heron. We got back to the playground to enjoy some free time and eat lunch, and still no heron. We even got to see Eastern Kingbird babies on the nest! But still no heron. Finally, once the bus was loaded up and we were on the driveway to head home, we looked to our left and BOOM: Great Blue Heron for all to see! What a relief!
This year's field trip to White Clay Creek State Park was our first visit to the site since 2016. When we arrived, we had a mapped out route in mind, but the map in the parking lot got Mr. McLaughlin and I thinking we should embody the idea of "adventure" and try something new. We opted for a longer hike, and we were handsomely rewarded for our efforts! We ended up at a sprawling section of White Clay Creek that gave us a great lunch spot and an even better creek walking spot. This ended up being our best trip ever to White Clay Creek!!!!
Finally, our Thursday field trip was to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. This was a first-time trip for Trailblazers Adventure Summer Camp as we only ever visited with our younger aged summer camps in the past. Again, another hot day, but it was by far our birdiest day of the week!!! We ended up seeing some super awesome bird species including lots of immature Little Blue Herons, Osprey, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Wood Duck, and amazingly up-close views of a Great Egret! We even documented our day together with an installment of "Birding with BQ." Check it out:
All told, we had a simply outstanding week and summer season! Thank you for your continued support of Trailblazers, and we look very forward to seeing you for our programming this school year and next summer!!!
52 species for the week:
American Black Duck
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Northern Rough-winged Swallow