Releasing the tagged Monarch
Every year we participate in Monarch Watch where we capture and tag Monarch butterflies that are en route to their winter resting spot in Mexico. Two of our students live next to prime habitat for these marvelous Monarchs and have been catching them for us to tag. One of our mom's got a terrific shot just as her son was releasing a Monarch. You can clearly see the tag. These tags are used to determine how far a Monarch has traveled from its where it was tagged. You can go to the Monarch Watch website to learn more about this program.
Recently, the Intermediates have been out exploring the prairie habitats, and more specifically, the milkweed habitat. We are finding that many organisms use the milkweed for some of their habitat resources, and a few use the milkweed exclusively for all their habitat resources. Here's some photos we took out in the field.
Our trail camera is located near the retention pond. We've been download photos to Snapshot Wisconsin, which ends up on Zooniverse. I'll be upload some of our favorite and most interesting photos on our Nature blog.
11/15/2016 4:24:09 PM Our resident turkey flock taking an afternoon stroll
11/12/2016 8:56:28 PM Here's our possum friend passing by!
12/14/2016 3:29:41 AM This coyote goes through first and leaves tracks.
This coyote comes through 20 minutes later and is sniffing the tracks of the one that came through earlier.
12/14/2016 3:49:11 AM Coyote checking his territory?
While it's already "old" news by now, we just got the video of our Besadny grant check that helped us buy the 4 iPad minis for our science room and to help us record our bioblitz data on iNaturalist. Some of our students were on hand for the presentation. The two videos below explain everything, so I won't add anything other than to say a big THANK YOU to the foundation and to Andrew Bamlett of Fitchburg television (FACTV)!
Recently, the 3/4's spent the entire morning out on a Bioblitz. What's that?, you ask. It's a gathering of students, parents, grandparents and naturalists who try to identify as many different species as possible at one given time in a given area. Our area was big. It included the retention pond area, the prairie south of the soccer field and Promega Woods, which was abundant in different species of mushrooms after a recent rainfall. Yours truly went back afterward to bring home some hen-of-the-woods for dinner, but I have to caution you to NOT pick and eat mushrooms, even if I do. I am not an expert, and mushrooms can be deadly if you make a mistake.
The mushroom above is a type of coral mushroom, but what species is it, we wonder? A note off to the local mycological society may help. But if there's anyone out there that seems to know what this beauty is, I'd love to know. It's growing with a bunch of other clusters on an old log. Below is some more images.
Below is a gallery of images of mushrooms we found. I'll be adding more photos on another date.
Remember Christian's hornworm caterpillar? Well today we caught it in the act of pupating. It's not done yet, but here it is about half-way complete. We'll post another photo when it's done. This type of caterpillar transforms or metamorphoses into a moth from the hornworm family. We don't yet know what type of moth, but we can find out when it hatches. But because this pupa typically overwinters underground, we will have to wait several months before it hatches.
Patience, young grasshopper! (If you don't get that, ask Maggie)
Later this afternoon! You can see the transformation into a pupa is nearly complete. Now, we just have to wait......until spring!
Out for a Bioblitz, the 3/4's discover owl pellets
Recently there were several sightings of a fox near the tall prairie grasses just next to our playground, and on the bike path. I have yet to see it, but I've heard of several accounts just within the last few days. The only real evidence I found was a nice scat right in the middle of the bike path.
Why would I post a picture of scat (a.k.a., poop)?? Well, it reveals interesting clues as to what the organism eats. If you observe carefully, you will see that the poop has hair in it - suggesting that it's food was a mammal. Look even more carefully, and you might notice a claw embedded in the scat. Now, even I have my limits, so I did not dissect the scat or pull out the claw for a closer look. But, between the actual sightings of the fox and poop that clearly comes from a predator, it's a pretty good bet that the scat came from the fox. What do you think??
As I was scouting about, I also found some more scat. It turns out that foxes are omnivores, and love to eat fruit as well as rodents. This picture of scat, which I found only a few feet from our new building, is full of fruit pits. I've observed that the wild grapes are ripe now, so I believe that is what the fox is also eating.
One reason you might find it hanging out by the tall grasses is because the hill is home to many 13-lined ground squirrels - a perfect snack for a hungry fox. Because we disturbed the hill by the new construction, the 13-lined ground squirrels temporarily lost their habitat. As we restore the prairie, hopefully they will return to the hill. But, for now, the fox has to hunt by the prairie grasses. I'm hoping we'll get a photo of the fox soon so I can post it on our nature blog.
Now, speaking of poop, check out the video of a fungus that lives on poop and is the fastest living thing known to man!
There are hundreds of different species of Sphingidae moths. Many overwinter underground as pupae, which explains our caterpillar digging a tunnel in the dirt we provided. We'll watch to see if it pupates.
Happy new school year everyone! This is the place where I post your nature finds around Eagle School. So far, we've found lots of very small toads living in the woodchips against the north wall of the school. If anyone wants to share something interesting they found, just bring it to Maggie. If you can't find Maggie, find Ally or Ms. McCulley and ask them to give it to me. We'll take a picture and post it!
A special note: There IS a gray tree frog living in the noodle bin. Please do not touch it or catch it. We have one living in Maggie's Science room. We do not want to disturb it because frogs have very sensitive skin that can be damaged from handling.
Eagle's Nature Blog
Exploring Eagle School's surroundings and discovering wonderful new plants, fungi & animals