Friday, May 14, 2010

A Nature Walk in Winter.

At least once a week we try to get out for a Nature Walk. I usually check the weather sites on Sunday-when I'm writing on our weekly planner-to see which day would be most suitable and then select our day according to the weather. (This is where the flexibility part comes in ;-)

This week we went for a walk around Silvermine River Sanctuary. We've just finished reading the book "Two Clever Geese" by Acton Kaye. It's a true story about two geese who lived in our area. There's a map in the beginning of the book and Jenna was very intrigued by the fact that she knew exactly where these places were. So I decided that it would be interesting to see if we could find their house, or at least see where the geese crossed the busy road to go for their walks to the beach.

After driving around the small suburb of Clovelly we couldn't quite choose which house was Whale View Manor so we headed down to the sanctuary to explore the bird life! Michael was quite convinced we would find some geese there! ;-)

We've always taken the time to discuss any signboards along our walks. Here the children can learn the rules of being out in nature in an easy way. Even a 3 year old can "read" the pictures on the signs. Jenna has lots of fun interpreting the signs on her own before she asks for clarification. Her favourite one here was the smiley face. She says it means you must always walk with a smile :-) I think that's a great rule! (But I'm really not sure what it is supposed to mean!? Do you?) Can you guess which is Michael's favourite? Yip, the dump truck! Or rather: the NO dump(ing) truck sign.

There's a lot of bird life here. Very early on our walk we spotted this Heron. We think it's the Grey Heron.

And then we spotted this bird. But from far it was very difficult to identify it so I took a close up shot hoping it would help us to identify it when we looked at it on our computer screen at home. Modern technology-what did Charlotte Mason do without it?

As we've had quite a bit of rain lately the river was flowing quite fast so I suggested a game of Pooh Sticks. (It's a game Winnie-the-Pooh played with his friends.)

We had great fun trying to spot our sticks and then cheering them on as they came out the other side of the bridge. And when they got stuck on reeds or in the long grasses on the sides of the river it was a good opportunity to discuss water pressure. They learnt about how the river flows quicker in the middle and slower on the sides. So that's why Jen's stick won in the end and Michael's one stayed stuck in the reeds along the side!

Then it was time to run along the walkway looking for crabs or insects in the water alongside.

No luck here! Just a few tiny lily-pad like plants.

The cold weather and exercise meant requests for a snack. So while we stopped to fill our tums we took the chance to see if we could find the birds we had seen earlier in our Pocket Guide.

I'm sure it's this one mum! We eventually agreed on the African Darter-but that will need another closer viewing for confirmation!

I thought these little flowers were so beautiful. Unfortunately my knowledge of plants is limited. I figure at the moment, because of the age of our children, it's easier to concentrate on animals and learning their names first. Someday I will get a good field guide which can help me to identify the beautiful flora which we find in our country, someday.....

Jenna was quite effected by a display which we saw at the Rondevlei Sanctuary on our last Co-op outing. It depicted the effects of man on wildlife and how litter, amongst other things, causes the death of the fish and animals living in the water. So when she saw this litter she wanted to save the fish!

This walk was filled with lots of little teaching moments. Or rather Jenna was full of questions! She wanted to know why the puddles hadn't dried up here. So we also had a quick lesson on clay soil and why it drains so slowly.

On another rest stop we took the time to look at the mountain. Jen wanted to know if there were any baboons living there because she was certain she could spot a cave. Well we didn't spot any baboons but we saw a happy little band of dogs running along the mountain side: All on their own, mom! Where is their owner? That's one question I couldn't answer!

Along the walk there are a few sign boards with information about the flora in the area-unfortunately it's a little illegible so we couldn't learn any of the names of the flowers :-(

But it made a great little seat for these two little monkeys!

Sadly, at the end of the river, there was a lot of pollution. I definitely couldn't allow Jen to climb down there to clean this up! We discussed what would happen with it-where would it go to? As the sea was just across the road she came to the conclusion it would flow out to sea someday and would effect the animals there. Not a happy lesson to learn-but it has made her more aware of the need to look after her little part of the planet. And because children must still be allowed to preserve their innocence and not feel that they need to save the world in one day...

There's must always be some time to make mud pies!

So we didn't find the home where the geese had lived but we did have fun exploring the area where they would have gone for their walks. And we learnt a lot and experienced a whole lot of fun while doing it!