On the last Saturday in September, the Nature Kids group met for the first time. We started out by playing a few games to get to know other families.
Our topic for the day was pond life and the diversity of animals that live in the pond. Jean Luc, our naturalist, told us that only 5 % of all animals have spines like us! We don’t know as much about invertebrates so that is what we looked for in the pond. Jean Luc showed us how to use nets properly and we worked in groups to collect pond creatures.
It was really fun to catch different kinds of animals – we found some pretty interesting ones.
We brought them back to learn to identify what we found. We found nymphs, beetles, minnows and crayfish to name a few. At the end of our time together, we took turns sharing with the group what our favourite finds were.
We look forward to seeing everyone next month to learn about nature photography!
On Saturday, June 8, WRN kids got to learn all about fireflies! It was a gorgeous night. When we got to Laurel Creek, we saw two deer!
While we waited for the sun to set, we had a camp fire. We tried to roast the perfect marshmallow, but many got burnt. They still tasted good!
We caught really cool bugs and put them in a bug apartment. We saw a raccoon scurry through the field. We played catch while we waited for dark.
After our fire, we hiked to the storm management pond. We heard green frogs and tree frogs. We saw a bat. We waited for it to get dark. We noticed orange flashes, they were fireflies! The male fireflies flash to impress the females. We actually caught some. They only live for a couple of weeks. We have never seen a firefly before, it was awesome.
Even though it was way past our bedtime, it was worth it. We hope to have more fun with fireflies again!
By Ada and Alice
Thanks to Ada and Alice, sisters who are WRN Kids members, for a great report!
This special evening program was the wrap-up for our 2018-19 year. Thank you to David O’Reilly, our naturalist this time who built a great fire and helped us discover lots of cool things. Thanks to Mary-Anne Cain for coordinating our programs at Laurel Creek Nature Centre.
Thanks to the volunteers who helped out over the year: Linden Imeson Jorna, Linda Dutka, Pat Bigelow, Zack Stevens, Kristi Neufeld, Cathy McKerron, and Giselle Carter who will be WRN Kids coordinator for 2019-2020. Also, much appreciation to Cathi Stewart for putting Kids on Facebook and to Paul Bigelow for putting us on the WRN website, managing registrations, and doing many other jobs.
And, as usual, thanks to the families who were part of WRN Kids this year! We love your enthusiasm about nature! Don’t forget to sign up for the fall!
WRN coordinator 2018-19
Today’s topic was turtles. We played a game where some of us were turtles and the other ones were cars. I was a painted turtle. I learned that turtles have trouble crossing roads.
We did a turtle circle. The turtles were Shelldon, a painted turtle, and Franklin, a red-eared slider. Shelldon is covered with red and smaller than Franklin. Shelldon was really fast and Franklin was kind of fast.
We went outside and saw frogs at the pond. We saw one green frog and lots of leopard frogs. We saw a turtle nesting area by the pond, which looked like a giant sand pile. Turtles lay their eggs in sand. I felt wet by the pond because it was raining. It started light and then got hard and then there was no rain. It was crazy!
We went back inside and the kids made turtle crossing signs. They are to keep people from killing turtles by running them over. The grown ups made turtle nesting boxes.
I felt happy about today because I learned a lot about turtles. I liked being a turtle in the game and that was my favourite part of the day.
Coralie – WRN Kids member
On Sunday April 28, 2019, WRN Kids families planted trees at Laurel Creek Nature Centre. The trees (donated by WRN) were planted in a section of the forest which borders “the hole in the donut”. Loss of ash trees to borers had thinned out this part of the forest, and if the ill-advised proposed development goes ahead, this forest will see increased stress.
On Saturday May 4, 2019, WRN Kids and WRN Teens were invited to SpruceHaven Farm to watch the bird-banding and see the Barn Swallow project with David Gascoigne. The Kids families then went with botanist Jenn McPhee to learn about wildflowers.
… and the Kids found salamanders!
WRN Teens went with Sandy Hill, one of the owners of the farm, to plant trees and then they picked up garbage beside the highway.
March 30, 2019 – On a very rainy Saturday morning, WRN Kids tried out some traditional indigenous game skills.
On Saturday February 23, 2019, WRN Kids learned about the different levels of the food web by acting the roles of herbivore, omnivore, carnivore, disease and human.
They had to collect food and water while avoiding predators and seeking out prey to tag.
On Saturday January 26, 2019 WRN Kids headed outside and found lots of evidence of creatures sharing space with us.
They saw tracks of all kinds – a tuft of deer fur beside deer tracks, several different small mammal tunnels, and bird tracks. Other evidence of animals and insects included rabbit scat, a Goldenrod gall and a cocoon.
Christmas Bird Count for Kids
at rare Charitable Research Reserve on January 12, 2019
WRN Kids and WRN Teens had a special opportunity recently: rare Charitable Research Reserve hosted their third annual “Christmas Bird Count for Kids” on January 12 and we were all invited!
There was a large group this year, including a few of our WRN Kids families. First, we all learned about birdwatching basics from Adam in the Slit Barn then everyone headed out in small groups, each led by an expert birder (including Adam and WRN members David Gascoigne, Fraser Gibson and Josh Shea as well as rare staff Emily Leslie) to count all the birds they could find. The Kids were enthusiastic in spite of the cold, managed their binoculars like pros, understood why we walked to several different habitats, and saw an impressive number of birds! They enjoyed warming up afterwards with a hot chocolate in the ECO Centre next door.
As well, four of our dedicated WRN Teens volunteered to help out at the event, filling feeders, assisting group leaders, moving furniture, and washing dishes. While doing jobs that needed to be done, they were also super role models for the Kids.
Huge thanks to rare for hosting, the volunteer birders for continuing to inspire us all, the parents for getting their families outside, the Teens for volunteering early on a cold Saturday morning, and especially the Kids for wanting to learn about and protect nature!
Jenna Quinn, rare Program Scientist summarizes:
“Together, we identified 23 species and made over 900 individual observations, of (accounting for duplicate observations) approximately 275 birds. Canada Geese were the most abundant species we observed, and every group was able to spot a juvenile Bald Eagle perched in a tree. Two groups were lucky to see three Eastern Bluebirds, a rarity at this time of year.”
See the full results below. We’re all pretty proud to be contributing to Citizen Science with our Bird Count! Can’t wait to do it again next year!
WRN Kids & Teens coordinator
WRN Kids was a bit different this month; they met in the evening to learn about the night sky! Sadly, the sky was overcast so the program was all indoors. The Kids were still excited to learn about astronomy and had really great questions.
Ian, a GRCA naturalist, used a software program to show constellations and planets, and travel through space and time.
On Saturday October 27, 2018 the WRN Kids met the turtles who live inside at the nature centre and learned about turtle shells, how turtles survive, and why they are endangered.
It was cold, windy and a bit rainy but they got their rubber boots on, brought the nets and buckets, and got right into the creek to see who lives there — and could still be found this late in the fall.
They were excited to catch fish, some very cool bugs, some strange creatures in early stages of development, tiny red Blood Worms — and a Northern Leopard Frog!
On Saturday September 29, 2018 the WRN Kids learned about the Monarch butterfly life cycle and migration from Jeff Grant, a grade 10 student who is a butterfly and moth expert.
GRCA naturalist Chris sent the families out on a hike/game that emulated what food and hazards Monarchs would find during their migration.
On Saturday June 9, 2018 WRN Kids went on a bonus outing to SpruceHaven Farm in St. Agatha led by David Gascoigne. They viewed the mud nests in the barn and learned how the nests are monitored by volunteers during the breeding season.
They got to see a one day old Barn Swallow up close.
Out in the fields they saw Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows, and got to hold a Tree Swallow nestling.