Wacky Wednesday Field Trip–November Ponding at Westmoreland Sanctuary

Hooray for days off!

This morning we had over 20-families join us for our hike and picnic at the fantastic Westmoreland Sanctuary in Bedford Corners. We were treated to a dry day and relatively mild November temperatures in the mid-50s for today’s outing, and though I know that the comfortable weather is a good motivator for folks to get outdoors, I’m also going to chalk the crowd up to the growing enthusiasm for Kids Unplugged’s adventures! Thanks to all of you who joined us today, who brought friends along and who made it out for the first time.

When our group was finally assembled, gear gathered and Kids Unplugged trail protocols announced, we set off down the hill on the Easy Loop Trail to Betchel Lake. Along the way we searched for signs of animals getting ready to batten down for the coming winter months. Cozy burrows and scatterings of seed husks were indicators that the Sanctuary’s critters had been busy with their seasonal preparations.

The downhill stretch of trail brought with it some good momentum and the kids made it to the shore of the lake in record time. They’re really getting to be seasoned hikers and I think I’ll be able to choose some longer trails this coming spring! To everyone’s delight, the ponding nets were resting against the shed alongside several buckets and pans for viewing the animals we might retrieve from the water. Being November and considering that the weather had been fairly chilly the previous week, I didn’t expect the kids to find much. What a surprise for everyone when tadpoles, minnows, snails and one honking-big crayfish were pulled from the lake. The kids shared buckets, carefully emptying their catch into the vessels while calling to one another gleefully with every new discovery. We spent a good amount of time at the lake and some kids roamed while others worked with the nets. They happened upon the beginnings of a lean-to shelter of branches and some of them began adding to its construction.

When hungry stomachs began to rumble, we released the critters back into the shelter of the lake before heading back up trail for a picnic lunch and a visit to the Sanctuary’s fantastic nature museum. I’m not sure which feature of the museum was the biggest hit for the kids. The live animals on exhibit on the first floor were definitely a big draw, but the incredible assortment of stuffed birds and mammals upstairs are equally captivating. We probably spend close to an hour exploring the museum after lunch and then another bit of time visiting with the chickens on site before heading home.

Steve and Adam, the Sancturary’s director and naturalist, were wonderful hosts as always. Westmoreland is a favorite Kids Unplugged venture and we’re sure to return soon!

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