Winding Waters Celebrates First Anniversary with Cake and Outings
Winding Waters Group enjoyed two hikes recently. On the first hike, a group including five young children enjoyed a ramble through Brown County State Park. We studied chewed acorns and other evidence of squirrels and chipmunks, dabbled in streams, climbed an observation tower, admired stone work by CCC workers of the 1930s, tried out a playground, and finished with a birthday cake.
The cake celebrated Winding Waters Group's first birthday! On it was a frosting picture of our planet with the slogan "Explore, Enjoy, Protect" and the helpful explanation, "You Are Here," under the blue blob of the Great Lakes. (The blue blob was safer to eat, unfortunately, than any fish that come from the Great Lakes, but our club is working to improve that situation).
On the second hike, 28 hikers met in Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge on a fine sunny day. We hiked through several different types of habitat, but due in part to the large number of hikers (a record for our group), we saw very little wildlife other than some wintering cardinals.
We did find the pleated, green leaves of a native Cranefly Orchid. This species' leaves appear in late fall, live and photosynthesize all through winter, and then disappear in spring. A month or two later, a 14-inch tall flower appears as if from nowhere!
After the main hike, several Sierrans stayed on for a short walk to the lookout on Ricart Lake. We saw more cardinals, a woodpecker, and some distant geese.
In the grass nearby was a large black king snake, dead though still flexible and mostly intact. Perhaps it had come out to sun on a recent warm day, but was caught out and froze at dusk?
Some small creature or creatures had gnawed a neat hole into the snake and had hollowed out several inches of it. We doubt this was the cause of death--more likely part of nature's process of decomposition and recycling.
After the hike dispersed, several of us went over to another of the refuge's small lakes, where we were rewarded with the sight of two beavers and five or six river otters. The latter species was reintroduced to this part of Indiana in recent years after having been extirpated.
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