Woods and Wetlands 2018

A Close Up View

I just love these little magnifiers that are tucked into the whistle/compass combo! Here, one of our scientists is exploring the tiny world of lichen. I wish I had a recording or exact memory of all the exclamations he was making as he viewed this mini world up close! “Whoa! Look at this! It looks huge!” “What IS that red thing? It looks like a … I don’t know! It’s just so COOL!” etc…  I have since learned that the lichen are harmless to their hosts and that the ones we were viewing are (likely) called, “British Soldiers,” due to their red caps.

Here is something else I learned about lichen.

“Lichens are made up of two or more different organisms living together, a fungus and an alga. The fungus provides the body (thallus) in which the algal partner can live, protected from damaging conditions such as high levels of light (ultraviolet radiation) and lack of water (drought). The algal partner provides the essential carbohydrates (food for the fungus) from carbon dioxide and water, with the aid of sunlight. This close, interdependent relationship is referred to as a symbiosis.”

I also learned that some lichens are highly sensitive to air pollution and can be used to detect sources of it!


We began by looking for different animal foot tracks. We found lots of squirrel, rabbit, and deer tracks in the swamp.
We discussed how both rabbits and squirrels have longer hind feet than front feet and I posed the question, “Why might that be?” and the kids began thinking and making hypotheses about this.
We weren’t even a bit cold in our warm gear with all of the physical activity!
Last week and this, I pointed out and explained a bit about how snow acts as an insulator keeping the swamp from freezing solid sometimes.
In the winter it is easy to find our way, not only using the Fairy Tree as our best landmark, but by following our own tracks and trails.
Even in the winter without much green in view, there is a kind of beauty to the swamp, especially as the late afternoon sunlight illuminates the red winterberries and the tips of the trees above us.
We noticed a few, tiny evergreens struggling to make their way in the swamp.
H. is being digested by some branches that were tighter than he’d expected. Though I offered to have his parents bring his toothbrush and pillow, he declined and so we worked together to extricate him with a bit of both laughing and crying as he had to help himself get un-wedged!
C. is curious!
We all used walking sticks this time and made much better time moving through the half-frozen swamp.
There is more to see than meets the eye!
After many false identifications, we finally found a clear deer track!

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