Thursday, January 3, 2013

Maple Wood Nature Center

We've been looking forward to our visit at Maple Wood Nature Center in LaGrange for a couple of weeks. Find Maple Wood Nature Center on Facebook!

The Center has a very nice building and facilities. There are acres of hiking trails. Wood is stocked up and stored for the Maple Syrup Days the third weekend in March. We're looking forward to it!

I had several wood climbers today, husband included!

I love it when my boys find "interesting" things to share with me. Our oldest son found a hidden hole he was sure was a good habitat place for an animal.

We met Elma Chapman and Jay Mast. I met both through Indiana Master Naturalists. They both live fairly close to the nature center and were our guides for the morning. Both know so much about the outdoors. I always learn during excursions like this.

Elma pointed out the scratches on this tree from a deer rubbing antlers on the tree. Pretty cool!

This tree is getting pecked at a lot . . . slowly disintegrating!

Boy #3 had a harder time keeping up. Holding his hand helped him stay closer to everyone. If needed, we'd give him a couple of "swings" for encouragement.

We found many tracks. If tracks go along the trail, they probably belong to a dog; however, if they across the trail, these are important to investigate more.

Elma had a handy dandy animal track sheet and other information laminated and on a ring. I need this!

We found several areas where a squirrel went to find a nut that it buried this fall.

My husband carried my nature bag (Christmas present from him!) since I was carrying the baby. He is definitely a "gear guy" and keeps me supplied.

Sometimes the right tool makes all the difference!

Here we were figuring out the sequence of events with this set of tracks.

"I need a closer look, Mom!"

The wetlands area is neat. The trails is raised with a way for the water to flow between both sides. Glad they keep this aspect of it. I learned more about the watershed of the area.

Boy #3 (3 years old) found another "interesting" thing. He was kind of getting tired at this point, so when he pulled me back to show me something, I knew it had to be good! What great textures on this seed. It definitely travels by holding onto nearby travelers and hitching a ride.

Back at the Nature Center, the wildlife viewing area was fantastic!

The oldest thought this carving was neat. I think he'd like to learn more about carving and American Indian heritage, skills, and crafts.

Scott works here and shared helpful information about the center, programs and facilities. It's a great building with many interesting taxidermy animals. He prepared some information on tracks for our hike and taught us about some basics. He told us what to look for while we were out and what we most likely wouldn't see, such as the raccoons and skunks who are resting in preparation for mating season in a couple of weeks. He was a wealth of information!

The boys loved these little chairs!

Watching the wildlife . . . cardinals, downy woodpeckers, squirrels, juncos, etc. flocked to the area.

Jay warmed his feet by the fire after our hike! It's always good to spend time with him. Having an area to warm up, use the bathroom, and investigate more after being outside is great! The kids started wrestling after just a little exploration at this site. Strengths of the site include the many walking trails, the setting, the naturalists help, the quality of the building, volunteers, etc. I might look to make this trek in conjunction with one of the programs.

What a fun morning!