Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Hunting We Will Goooo!

No wait...not THAT type of hunting.  We are after all a nature center.  How does a nature scavenger hunt sound though?  Bring your kids.  Bring your cameras.  Let us know if you can find these things!

First of all, let me tell you where I went today.  I started at the trail head beginning at Bob Jones Nature Center.  If you come out and don't know what I mean by this, please stop in!  That's what we are here for.  I started down the Bluebird Trail and went all the way to the gate that leads out to the more than twenty miles of trail that connects us to all sorts of interesting destinations.

My destination today...Grapevine Lake!  There are a number of forks in the trail once you head out the gate.  The trail I took today to find all of the goodies in this post was as such:

Walk down the main trail until you see a fork in the trail, go left.  Go on the main trail until there in another very obvious fork in the trail and go left.  Walk until you come to a three way area and stay to the left.  Keep going until another obvious fork and again, go left.  On the way back, do the opposite.

I then came back through the gate, went to the right and continued the loop on Bluebird Trail all the way back to the nature center.

So Onward We Go!

1.  Can you find feathery leaves like these?


    Keep in mind that this tree will soon be completely bare so come out and look for it soon.  

   Another way to tell if you have the right tree is to check for thorns.

                                                     (these are from a Mesquite tree)

     2.  What about this's full of blue waxy berries this time of year.  Can you find it?

    This is a Red Cedar.
 Both the Mesquite tree and Red Cedar are a valuable food source for a variety of  wildlife.


     3.  Look for animal tracks.  Can you find some like this?


     4.  Or how about this?

      5.  How many are you able to find?


    (deer, coyote, turkey)

     6.  Look at this beautiful little seed pod.  I found these near the lake.  There isn't much left of them, but I am pretty sure they are English Plantain.  See if you can find them!

     7.  Here are some prickly pads among the trees...CACTUS!  Find them, take a picture, but  don't touch...ouch!

     8.  Shells!  I saw regular shells and fossilized shells.  Can you find some too?

     9.  This delicate beauty is a leaf skeleton.  You will have to look very carefully to find one of these.

     and drum roll....number ten....


10.  The mystery plant.  These were really neat and I really have no idea what they are.  Can you  figure it out?  They have mesmerizing seed pods and there are many of them along the beach.  If you walk gently through them, they softly rattle.  Try it!


Bonus Material....

first of all, the good stuff...Look at this view!

The not so good?

Well, I found these other items on my treasure hunt too.

They weren't pretty, but they were the ONLY thing I collected.  I hope if you see anything that doesn't belong, you will collect it too.  Throw it in the garbage or bring it back to the nature center and recycle anything that can be.

If you get a chance to do this treasure hunt, please send us some of your photos.  I would love to post them on our blog and along with any anecdotes you'd like to share about your own adventure.  Bonus points to whomever identifies our mystery plant!


What is your favorite natural 'treasure'?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Water is Life!

The nature center is quiet today.  We had a lot of plans as always, but with the rain, people have chosen to stay home.  However, while so many of us are snuggled up at home enjoying our families for the holidays…the wildlife is as active as ever if not more!  Water is life.
I stepped out from our office for a moment to see what the conditions were really like.  In boots, jeans, a long sleeved shirt, and a winter coat….I set out with my camera to see what I could see.

Symphony for the Senses

As is generally the case with nature, you never know what you will find.  There were the obvious goodies such as these beautiful deer.

The birds have been busy all day on the feeders.

The squirrels never rest.

But today, there was so much more.  The smell of rain that we haven’t had the treat to smell much over the last several years.

The tinkling sound of the droplets, the soft crush of the fallen leaves under my feet, the caw of a crow, and the scattered songs of other birds.

New sights and plenty of reasons to wonder.

Who made this hole?

What might live here?

Amazing seed pods…

Striking tree limbs….

So many questions to ask, so many discoveries to be made.  The rain need not hold you back.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Birds = Happy Birders! 

We have been waiting for these little guys for a while.  American Goldfinches enjoying nyjer seed, black oil sunflower seed, and suet feeders.

At one point in time, I counted 11 goldfinches on one nyjer seed sock feeder all at once! 

The grackles were fascinating to watch.  They would sit in a large tree next to the feeders and wait, then descend all at once to eat and within seconds, WOOSH back up to the tree to keep watch.

This is either a Hairy Woodpecker or a Downy Woodpecker.  It is very hard to tell them apart, but awesome to see regardless of which one it is.

Here is my happy birder!

Happy Birds!

It may be raining outside, but the birds couldn’t be happier.  Come on over to Bob Jones Nature Center (BJNC) and hang out at our bird window to be amazed by the number and variety of birds visiting our feeders.

Today we have seen:

Dark-eyed Junco


Downy or Hairy Woodpecker

Cardinal pairs

Tufted Titmouse

Black Capped Chickadee

American Goldfinch


and lots of playful squirrels of course!

Rain or shine, there is always something to learn or do here so please don't hesitate to drop by, find nature, and get centered.   

And don’t forget, the amazing Dr. Ray Chancellor will be doing his monthly bird walk tomorrow morning (Saturday, December, 21st).  We meet in the BJNC parking lot at 8:30.  After the bird walk, we will be having a free member’s event inside, StoryTime and Hot Cocoa.  Pre-registration is recommended.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

We're Blogging!

I am so happy to announce and present our new blog.  It's been a long time coming and it's here!  Many of you know exactly who we are and what we do, but so many of our own residents still don't know about this hidden gem just minutes from their doorstep.  Our goal is to see this change.  Follow our blog, pin our projects, and help us get the word out!

So where exactly are we? 

Our physical address is:

355 E. Bob Jones Rd. Southlake, TX 76092

Directions from Highway 114:

From 114, exit on Whites Chapel Blvd. heading north.  You will pass Walnut Grove Elementary School, Camp Burnett, the Bob Jones Park soccer fields, The Clariden School, etc.  There are signs on the side of the road leading to the nature center.  Follow White's Chapel Blvd. to Bob Jones Rd. and turn right.  Follow it down past some houses and horse pasture.  We are on the right hand side of the road with a lovely engraved stone sign out front.  Go through the black gates and follow the road down to our parking lot.  At this point you will see the center (please come in and say hello!), the big red barn, and the trail head.

Our trails are free and open to the public to enjoy.  You can come to do a leisurely lunchtime stroll or come ready for a more ambitious adventure and use our trail as a starting point to the more than 20 miles of trail that connect us to even more cross timbers ecosystem and Lake Grapevine.

Our Amazing Programs for Young Children...

We offer an awesome one day a week outdoor preschool program.  I know many Southlake residents that feel they must brave Ft. Worth traffic twice a day to have their child attend nature based preschools at larger museums.  I am sure many will be thrilled to know that we have a high quality program right here in our backyard.  Not only is the location easily accessible, we are also unique in that our program is largely based outdoors...studying nature where it happens.  We keep the kids physically active, engaged, learning, and having fun.

Our teachers are incredibly knowledgeable, come with many years of experience both in working with young children and the environment, and are warm and engaging.

In January 2014, we kick off an exciting new season of Young Explorers and Babes in the Woods.  Young Explorers are independent 3's-6 years of age.  Babes are 18 months-young 3's that come with an adult partner. 

The theme for January is Predatory Mammals.  Week by week topics include:  Coyotes in the Cold, Foxes in the Frost, Bobcats Brrrr..., and Cool Cougars.  Please visit our website to register online or give us a call and we can register you right over the phone.

Why consider outdoor preschool? 

Watch this fascinating video about some of the outdoor schools in Norway (considered to have one of the strongest educational systems in the world).  If the video does not pop up on your device, you can follow this link.

As the weather cools down over the next couple days here in Southlake, consider some of the insights from the Norwegians on weather..."there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes"...and get outside with your kids!