Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nature Study, Plan B

I had great plans at the beginning of this summer to take my boys and explore several nature trails on PEI. We would observe wonderful things in the woods and along rivers, we would take photos, we would go home and look things up. Well, these plans fell apart when I found myself stuck at home without a vehicle for most of the summer.
Instead, once or twice a week I find myself taking a 20-30 minute walk to the nearby school playground with my "parade" (one on my back, one in the stroller, and one holding on to the stroller...I'm sure the neighbours are most amused!). Along the way, the boys and I have noticed many fascinating things in nature.

Today we saw one of these fuzzy caterpillars crossing the road (I believe these ones turn into the lovely tiger moths we see once in a while here.). JJ noticed it first and started hopping up and down on my back in his excitement. With my parade, you will appreciate that I did not go and rescue the caterpillar, who had mistakenly started to head down the road instead of across it. Instead, we cheered it on..."Go, caterpillar, go!" Then we watched, aghast, as a car drove by and flattened it. As we mourned its death, it suddenly got up and started down the road again. It's hair was still a bit flattened, but it was alive! The only explanation I can think of is that the caterpillar was just crawling on a crack and the car pushed it down into it.

Our walks do not always contain this kind of drama. Usually we identify the flowers we find. The boys know the ones I've been able to remember from my childhood...Black-eyed Susans, Goldenrod, Queen Anne's Lace, Daisies, Butter and Eggs, Purple Clover, White Clover, and more. There are still a few that I don't know, but over the next few years I'm sure we'll find them all out.

We've also been seeing a lot of these pale yellow sulphur butterflies. They are extremely abundant here. We also have some white butterflies, but I haven't been able to get close enough to any of them to figure out what they are. We found a dead sulphur butterfly beside the road last week, so we could take a closer look. The picture isn't really clear enough, but these have a delicate pink edge around their wings, so they're called pink-edged sulphur butterflies.

We have seen a lot of mushrooms lately. This funny little white one full of brown spores is called a puffball. I had often noticed and wondered about these when they were mature and dried out. Now I know what they are!

Nature study seems to happen whenever we're outside, but most especially when we're on walks together. We really don't need to go anywhere special to enjoy it. Even in the limited area of our walks, it would take a very long time to exhaust nature's treasures for us.


  1. I had many of those "parade" walk around here too :-)

    Looks like you found some pretty nice things on your nature walks :-)

  2. Yes, I am amazed at what we see just along the road as we walk to the playground!