ICO trip leaders Ben and Breezy organized a wonderful adventure to the Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick, MA this past Saturday. A group of over a dozen boys and girls from St. Peters along with their wonderful chaperone Carla and ICO volunteers Cassie, Sally and Jeff, along with Ben and Breezy participated in the trip. We were very lucky to have Carla along, as she is a wealth of knowledge and energy and the students really enjoy being around her. We all had a great time experiencing the 854 acres of beautiful and peaceful protected wetlands only half an hour outside of Boston.
The day started at St. Peters in Dorchester, where the group circled up to introduce each other, talked about what a wildlife sanctuary was, what we could expect on the visit and talked about our favorite animals (unfortunately no chameleons and tigers were found at the Sanctuary that day).
After that, the group hopped into the van for the drive out to the Sanctuary, where we met with 2 staff members who talked about the wildlife on the sanctuary, and what to be on the lookout for when we were walking the trails to identify signs of the animals' presence. The kids passed around and examined some amazing items in the Broadmoor collection, including a stuffed beaver, deer antlers, a rabbit skull, and a deer tail. One beaver skull we examined had a loose tooth and one of the staff members pulled out the 3 inch long tooth that seemed to go on forever to the amazement of us all.
The kids then went on a 2-hour trek through the grounds, which included a walk on the wooden walkways over the ponds, and through the field, forests, and marshes across the sanctuary. Right at the beginning of the trip we found the remnants of a horned owl's meal hanging from a tree and saw the tracks of a coyote. The kids all had cards that showed what the tracks of various animals looked like, and were able to measure and identify the tracks of many animals, including coyotes, deer, raccoon, and rabbits. At the furthest point, we came across several large beaver lodges and dams and some large felled trees that were ground to a point from some sharp beaver teeth. The grounds were snowy, slushy, and muddy in places, and not all the kids wore appropriate footwear, but all the kids were eager to help each other out, even giving each other piggyback rides over some especially snowy areas.
After a great hike, we returned to the warm nature center for turkey/ham sandwiches, PB&Js, and fruit. We played a great name game and learned the name of fruits in many of the kids' native Creole, and then sat in a circle and recounted what we learned and what our favorite part of the day was. Some of the best things we learned:
--Mice and shrews will eat the antlers that deer shed to get calcium in their diet
--Beavers have adapted webbed feet and big tails that store fat that they use to slap the water to warn predators. They also secrete a waterproof coating from special glands that they rub on their outer fur.
--Great Horned Owls on the sanctuary have a wingspan of up to five feet!
--Some animals adapt to cold weather by hibernating or eating other types of food in the winter, while others, like birds, will migrate to warmer climates
It was a great day at the Wildlife Sanctuary, and we would like to thanks Ben, Breezy, Jeff, Cassie, Sally and of course Carla for a wonderful trip and to the staff at Broadmoor for giving us such a fun learning experience.
Click here for the photos from Broadmoor!
--Jeff and Breezy