Ecological Expeditions 2022 Descriptions
This program is great for curious naturalists including:
High school or college students interested in ecology, biology or environmental science
Graduates of master naturalist training programs seeking to apply their knowledge, or those interested in such programs
Citizens interested in local environmental and conservation issues
First Signs of Spring
Monday, March 14; 6-7 p.m. on Zoom
Saturday, March 19; 9-11:30am at Mt. Pisgah, Durham
Journey up the river to the southwesterly-most headwaters of the Connecticut River to the Pitch Pine and Bear Oak-clad summit of Mt. Pisgah. At 644 feet, this rocky summit offers views of Durham Meadows and the Metacomet Ridge to the west and the Hartford skyline to the north. Various species of soaring hawks, vultures and Common Ravens can be spotted. Moderately rugged hike on the New England Trail through Chalker Brook ravine.
Vernal Pool Ecology
Monday, April 25; 6-7 p.m. on Zoom
Saturday, April 30; 9-11:30 a.m. at The Preserve, Old Saybrook
Long before the trees leaf out and the tropical birds arrive, life is already busy beneath the water’s surface of vernal pools. The Preserve’s woodland wetlands are breeding habitat for Spotted Salamanders and Wood Frogs as well as a surprising diversity of invertebrates. With the aid of a net and magnification devices, we’ll get a glimpse of the rich variety of vernal pool life. Terrain is gentle, but trails are muddy in spots; waterproof footwear is recommended.
Spring Bird Migration
Monday, May 23 ; 6-7 p.m. on Zoom
Saturday, May 28; 9-11:30 a.m. at Banningwood Preserve, Lyme
The 102-acre Banningwood Preserve packs a diverse variety of habitats including Roaring Brook, floodplain and upland forest, meadows, and vernal pools. This makes it an ideal location to search and listen for birds that are passing through on migration or setting up to raise a family. We will also be on the lookout for spring wildflowers like Painted Trillium and Trout Lily. Binoculars and spotting scopes will be available, plus we’ll review some of the popular field guides, birding apps, and tools for birding by ear. Terrain is very gentle.
Solstice Evening Hike
Monday, June 20 ; 6-7 p.m. on Zoom
Saturday, June 25; 6-8:30 p.m. at Selden Creek Preserve, Lyme *note different time
It has long been known that “to everything there is a season,” but why? Changing day length drives many seasonal patterns in nature, and this marks the day when we turn the corner from day lengths getting longer to shorter. Celebrate the solstice at the spectacular Selden Creek Preserve, where we’ll watch the sun set from a cliff overlooking the largest island in the Connecticut. Along the way, we’ll see examples of how the passage of the season affects plants, wildlife, and ecosystems such as upland forest and forested wetlands. Terrain is gentle-to-moderate.
Tidal Freshwater Marsh Ecology
Monday, July 18 ; 6-7 p.m. on Zoom
Saturday, July 23; 9-11:30 a.m. at Whalebone Cove, Hadlyme
The tidal freshwater marshes flanking the lower Connecticut River are among the most interesting environments to explore. For this outing, we’ll launch kayaks and canoes from the Hadlyme Ferry Landing on the Connecticut River. The winding channels provide habitat for beaver, waterfowl, and turtles. Additionally we will discuss and observe submerged aquatic vegetation. More than just “seaweed,” different species have different value as food for waterfowl or cover for tiny fish, which we’ll discover as we collect and identify specimens. Must bring your own canoe or kayak, paddle, personal flotation device, and whistle.
Forest Ecosystem Health
Monday, August 22 ; 6-7 p.m. on Zoom
Saturday, August 27; 9-11:30 a.m. at Canfield-Meadow Woods, Essex
We all know what it means to be a healthy person, but how can you tell if you are in a healthy forest? This is an important question for land owners to consider because it will guide choices in how they make manage decisions. We’ll consider how factors like land-use history and how insect pest outbreaks shape the forests around us, and use a variety of tools with which scientists measure different attributes of the forest in the same way your doctor collects different kinds of information about you during a physical. Terrain is gentle-to-moderate.