Awesome spring break hike with the NEOFNC crew earlier this week. We found lots of new wildflowers, including virginia bluebells, bloodroot, spring beauty, rue anemone, trout lily, phlox and more! We also did some wading in Tinker’s Creek, a tributary of the Cuyahoga River. And some of the bigger kids made a scramble up a steep hill. Get out your ID books and try to identify the flowers in the photos.
We met up on a Sunday evening to hike the Ledges loop in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Super proud of these kids who stomped over two miles of forest and sandstone cliffs. The Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park has a good write-up on the history and geology of the Ritchie Ledges.
For our most recent outing, the Northeast Ohio Family Nature Club attempted a bioblitz in Brecksville Reservation. A bioblitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time.
Our small group mainly consisted of young kids and parents trying to avoid losing their young kids on a cold, damp morning. But we managed to find and identify a bunch of different items to varying degrees of specificity. Below, check out our list of species found in about an hour hiking along Chippewa Creek in Cleveland Metroparks Brecksville Reservation. Links provide more info if you want to discuss the things we found with your crew:
Vivid Metallic Ground Beetle
Black Cherry Tree
Brown Fishing Spider
We’d hoped to find some aquatic species, but the creek was high due to a lot of rain. Another odd note, I normally see lots of birds on this trail, but didn’t see a single bird species in the woods or near the creek. Also, we found an awesome fossil coral specimen!
For the third outing for the North East Ohio Family Nature Club, we headed to Summit Metroparks’ O’Neil Woods to roll logs. It was a bit colder than anticipated, with lots of snow on the ground. But it was a good opportunity to learn how animals weather the winter. Many animals find shelter from cold temps, moisture and food under logs. We found millipedes, centipedes, spiders, springtails, roly polies, exoskeletons of last year’s cicadas and orange peel fungus. We didn’t find any salamanders, but you can download the coloring sheet here with some facts about the common redback salamander, as well as a checklist for the kids of things you might find under logs.
Also, for those of you looking for more info on roly polies, be sure to show the kids this article and video:
On Saturday, February 25 the NEOFNC gathered at a small tributary of the Rocky River in Hinckley Reservation to check out Rainbow Darters in their spawning colors. Cleveland Metroparks Fisheries Biologist Mike Durkalec came with electrofishing gear and captured a bunch of specimens for viewing. Species included rainbow darters, johnny darters, blacknose dace, creek chub, stonerollers, green sunfish, silver jaw minnows, white suckers, crayfish and two-lined salamanders. After Mike presented to the group we found stonefly nymphs, rainbow darters and cranefly larvae with a seine net! Despite cold temps and wet activities, everybody did a great job. Kids (and some adults) colored an illustration of a rainbow darter by David Wilson. You can download the image here and print it out at home to color more: rainbow dater coloring page.
For the first outing, the North East Ohio Family Nature Club visited Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve to try to find Skunk Cabbage, the first wildflowers in Ohio to bloom each spring. Check out this article for a good background on why these plants are so cool. We found skunk cabbages pushing up through wet soil and melting ice on the surface of a vernal pool. We also found club mosses and the fruits from last fall’s wild cranberries in a sphagnum moss bog. Some kids found horsenettle berries and goldenrod galls.