Nature Walk with Cub Scouts

This morning I woke to a nice marine stratus deck the base of which appeared to be around 2500 feet. I didn’t bother to take a picture at the time (though of course now find myself wishing I had). Throughout the day it mostly broke up, and mostly sunny skies prevailed. However, even into this evening there seemed to be a bit of a haze and fragmented wisps of cloud still clung to many of the peaks this evening. I was uncertain whether the haze was from very diffuse remains of the clouds, or something from further away. I know Anchorage had experienced heavy haze, apparently due to particulates moving east from Asia (possibly from industrial pollution or forest fires – I heard both).

I had been asked to walk around the park with a troop of cub scouts this evening. There were three very energetic 8 year old boys and one slightly older sister, plus three parents and a dog. I started by talking to them a little about birds in general and the sorts of sounds they make. We then checked out some Varied Thrush feathers I had previously noticed behind he visitor center. They seemed pretty fresh. Our guess was that a raptor (Sharp-shinned Hawk or Merlin being the most likely candidates) plucked the thrush where we found the feathers.

The boys (and girl) found several more feather piles (among other things) in the forest near the trail, including one fairly fresh pile that was probably from a duck of some sort. In the end, I suspect they ended up going two or three times as far as the adults, with all the weaving back and forth across the trail and through the woods. Despite their exuberance, they also managed to hear some birds calling and singing.

Towards the end of the hike, I wanted to show them the Pacific Wren nest I had previously noticed near the foot bridge. As I had not seen any wren activity around it in several visits since I first noticed it, I figured it was not being used. I went over and crouched down to look in the entrance and let out a startled “whoa!” as a bird flew right towards my face and then down under the arching root. I had presumed wrong, and clearly the nest was still occupied. I backed off and had everyone go over to the bridge, where I pointed out the nest to them. While we were watching, the wren hopped around a bit under the tree, then after a minute or so flew back into the nest to resume her brooding.

I think the kids had a good time, and it seemed like the parents did as well. I know I enjoyed the walk. It was quite amusing to watch the kids and some of their antics. I reflected on how much easier it is to just relax and be amused at what’s going on when it’s not my kids being rambunctious. It occurs to me that there’s probably a (better) middle ground between what I’ve tended to do in response to my kids’ energetic behavior that does not always seem appropriate, and letting them go ahead and do whatever they want in that state.