Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Camp 2012 - Week 1

Summer camp at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest has begun for the 2012 season has begun! Next week will be the second and final week of regular summer camp with a week of  advanced camp beginning July 23rd.  The regular summer camp theme is insects, but we have seen much more than that while dodging the rain this week.

Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad - Mark Musselman
Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toads and other amphibians are taking full advantage of the water standing in depressions throughout the upland forest.  The distinctive "waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah" call can be heard mixed in with the chorus of other frog species.  The pools of water are without fish predators giving eggs laid there a better chance of survival.  Unfortunately, mosquitoes also prefer the standing water for their egg laying.  In recent days, clouds of mosquitoes have been observed emerging from the shallow water.  The only escape is to go, counter-intuitively, away from the edge and deeper into the swamp where the flowing water deters mosquito presence.

Green Treefrog - Mark Musselman
A Green Treefrog that will not be joining any more choruses around rain-filled depressions is shown above.  We do not know what caused its demise, but it was bloated, near death and was bleeding from wounds near its inoperable rear legs when its bright green color attracted the attention of the campers.  Before retrieving the frog, another camper spotted a small Southern Copperhead in a coil nearby.
Southern Copperhead - Mark Musselman
The copperhead has camouflage perfectly designed for the leaf litter of the forest floor.  It is possible that this snake was the frog killer, though it made no attempt to eat the frog.

Spotted Turtle - Mark Musselman
An aptly-named Spotted Turtle was also discovered near the education boardwalk.  This individual is young and not much more than half the size of an adult.
Spotted Turtle - Mark Musselman

Butterfly camouflage activity - Mark Musselman
While avoiding the rain one afternoon, campers took a white paper butterfly and colored it to camouflage the insect against a background found in old magazines.

White-tailed Deer - Mark Musselman
Twin fawns stuck close to mom for a few minutes and then began chasing each other at high speed through the forest behind the nature center.  Several other does and fawns have been spotted around the boardwalk and nature center.

Creating experience maps - Mark Musselman
This morning's stroll along the boardwalk out into the swamp generated an experience map for each camper.  Whether in drawings or notes, each camper recorded their impressions and observations.  "There is so much to see!"
Mantapede - original art by Ricky Covey
Finally, at the end of the day the imaginary insect hybrids needed a touch of color to bring them to life.

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