Our hike took place in Shu Swamp (Paul lost a shoe in Shu Swamp once...), a small patch of freshwater wetland on the north shore of Long Island. It's only about 65 acres, and has a fine flat 2.5 miles of trails. This is a very easy hike for all ages, but is not stroller-friendly due to muddy patches and the occasional narrow trail lined with poison ivy. But we intrepid homeschool moms who readily bring babies on our backs will have no problem...just watch their little faces for fear of catbriar and branches, and all is well.
The swamp is a favorite place for children of all ages, and despite the very swampiness of the preserve, it is not a terribly mosquito-ridden hike. I saw two mosquitoes trying to bite my students, but a gentle swat on the intelligent pate of each child removed the threat efficiently. Beyond mosquitoes, the patch of land is very much alive with critters more benign. Moths and dragon flies--red ones and blue ones--caught our eye immediately. We heard the call of the catbird, and saw a swan gliding over the glassy water of the open pond. We smelled a fox...or perhaps an otter, as there are otter here...or so we are told. (You see, in the woods, talking to strangers sometimes pays off--with information.) We saw the resident HUGE carp, and plenty of water-striders and more. When one young man called out, "Trout!" an osprey appeared and circled as if waiting for a cue. There were spider webs to rival Mirkwood, but the spiders were small.
I gave each naturalist-in-training a very basic data sheet (email me if you want a copy), and after a brief overview, off we went.
|Denizens of the (12 inches) deep--large mouthed bass?|
|Young naturalists compare notes.|
|Getting a closer look.|
|Taking the swampy temperature, which requires crossing a fallen tree.|
|Crossing the tree-bridge.|
|We call him "Kneel" today.|
|Remnants of an old tree--most of the class would fit in its hollow trunk.|
|Many trees fell last fall. The base of this one was about 13 feet.|
|The "class" poses next to a sign noting the tallest tree in NY State, at 167 ft.|
That's what we did in the middle of August. What have you done? Did you get out?