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Oregon Camping – Beaches, Tall Trees, and Tidepools

We all were aching to get on the road and start our week long camping trip in Oregon. Part of the joy of driving to Oregon are the views along the Northern California and Southern Oregon Coast. Amazing! The photo above is between Arcata and Crescent City along a stretch of the coast that at this time of year is ablaze with lupine…the fragrance is divine as you walk through the vegetation to the sandy beach.

When the boys get out onto to the sand for the first time it is pure joy! They stretch their legs after a long car ride and enjoy the Northern California wide open sandy beaches. We walked a long way, looking for beach treasures as we went. Then it was back into the car for the last leg of the trip over the California/Oregon border and up to Brookings and our beloved Harris Beach.

Yes! This is our campsite this year which overlooks the Pacific Ocean…looking westward and perfect for watching the sun go down each day. We were surprised at how light it was late into the evening…sunset was about 9 PM each day but it was light much longer than that.

Two of the days we were there we were able to take advantage of the negative tide and do some serious tidepooling.

Lots and lots of anemones to be seen…large and small!

Look carefully in this image and you can see the sea star’s “feet” that are clinging to the rocks at low tide. There were so many sea stars of many colors, sizes, and types. I love being able to see up close all the things we learned about from books.

I brought along a Stomp Rocket for the family to use on the beach. This was a fabulous idea and the boys (and mom and dad) each had turns stomping the rocket and watching it propel off down the beach.

We spent many, many hours walking the beaches and collecting colorful rocks…sometimes my pockets were all filled to capacity. I enjoyed sorting my rocks by colors on the picnic table at the campsite. I left them out each night and in the morning the dew would make them shiny and shimmery again.

These were my favorites…the red, green, and gray ones.

I also like this colorful kind which sort of looks like wood. I have a couple more rock related entries to share with you next month as part of my nature study goals and collecting various kinds of rocks. This was a great way to keep nature study at the forefront of our a good goal.

Mr. A was my fellow photographer at the tidepools. He was willing to really get out where he might slip and get wet to capture some great images of his own. He uses his cell phone camera and they turn our really great.

Here is a shot of my other photography buddy…Mr. D. He is more of an artist with his camera and takes his time to get just the right shot with the right setting. His images are amazing. This was also the very first time that our Kona dog has gone camping with us. She settled right in and had a great time. The wonderful thing about Oregon is that dogs are allowed on the trails as long as they are on a leash. She was able to take every hike with us…love Oregon!

We spent two different days in the redwoods hiking in the quiet stillness. We pretty much had the place to ourselves and it was so very refreshing. I already miss it. I am checking off another new hike on my 2013 Nature Study Goals, two down and two to go!

Can you just imagine how far you can walk on this Oregon beach? It was a windy day but it wasn’t cold so we took advantage of the open space and just roamed for a very long time. (I collected a few rocks too.)

Hello Mr. Snail!

Oh wow! These ferns were amazing! I loved seeing the black stems and the graceful way the fronds grow.

Aren’t they just incredibly pretty? I knew that our California Maidenhair fern had a black stem so I though maybe they were related. I looked it up when we got home and sure enough! This is the Northern Maidenhair fern.

On our last day we visited Crissey Field State Park which has a wonderful visitors center. We spent some time viewing all the nature displays and gathered some pamphlets for future use. We had a picnic lunch and then adventured out to the beach which is so very beautiful. Driftwood, dune plants and flowers, and a nice sandy beach are just what we needed to end our trip on a high note.

We were so happy that our trip turned out with gorgeous sunny skies for the majority of the week. We were able to do a lot of hiking, a lot of exploring, and enjoyed each other’s company while visiting the Southern Oregon Coast.

Until next time….

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Marine Invertebrates Notebooking Pages

Please note I am an affiliate for and have used the notebooking pages with my family for years!

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Our Spring Fern Nature Study

Ferns Red Shack button
Taken May 3, 2012

We actually started our fern nature study way back in January during our Silent Nature Winter Walk.

This week we walked the same trail to view our ferns. We tried to remember how many ferns there were back in January and there seems to be more ferns now and they are larger. Comparing photos I think we are correct.

Wester Sword Fern button
Magnificent ferns on our hiking trail.

I was interested in the Western sword fern but Mr. B was interested in the California Maidenhair fern. Both are plants that we have looked at closely before. The Maidenhair fern is interesting because it has a black stem and looks like lace…sometimes you have to look twice because you think the green parts are floating in air but really they are attached with delicate black stems.

Fern Nature Study notebook page
More Nature Study Book #3 Fern Study Notebook Page

We had a field guide to consult and to glean a few new facts from. Mr. B did a nature journal page for the California Maidenhair fern from our hiking trail. He thought the stalk was a purple/black…I will have to look closer the next time we hike down the trail.

maiden hair fern
California Maidenhair Fern – March 2010 (Best photo I have that shows the stalk.)

Now do you want to see some of our California wildflowers from further up the trail? We were busy this time stopping and noting all the colorful flowers there are right now.

Wildflower Collage May 2012
This is a colorful time of year in our part of the world.

I am keeping a running list of wildflowers seen on this particular trail for the whole year of 2012.

Running List - Wildflowers by location
Keeping a list…nothing fancy about this page in my journal.

I just add to my list in my nature journal when we get back from our hike. It is interesting to see the patterns and successions of blooms.

Fern Prints With Ink
Making fern prints with ink. See link below.

We will be revisiting ferns again this summer as we visit several spots in California that have ferns. I think it will be fun to add to our collection of fern prints that we started back in January.

It is not too late to join in with your own fern nature study….. If you own the More Nature Study Book #3 for spring, there are plenty of simple ideas to glean more information about your local ferns or prepare for the future when you may encounter ferns during your travels.

I am linking up to a new to me monthly meme at The Homeschool Scientist. Click over and join in.

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OHC More Nature Study Book 3 – Ferns

Fern Study Button
More Nature Study Book 3
Fern Study 

Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read pages 693-706 in the Handbook of Nature Study (Lessons 192-195)). Highlight information on ferns that you would like to share with your children. After reading through the information, pick one aspect of the fern to focus on during your outdoor time (unfolding, fruiting, learning parts of the fern).
  • View this animation: The Life Cycle of the Fern. This one is also interesting: YouTube: Time Lapse Fern Unfurling.
  • Advanced preparation: YouTube: Fern Life Cycle (Give this one a chance. It starts off a little rough but covers the information very well for this challenge.) Fern Cycle—Animated (For Fun). For students who have a background with high school biology: Fern Life Cycle.

Outdoor Hour Time:
Note:Take a hand lens and a way to carry a fern frond with you during your outdoor time.

  • Ferns are in the section of the Handbook of Nature Study that covers Flowerless Plants. Use your outdoor time this week to go on a fern hunt or as an alternative, look for moss which is in the same section in the Handbook (Lesson 197). Make observations using a hand lens if you have one. Take photos of the location of your ferns or other subjects.
  • Collect one frond of your fern (if appropriate).

Follow-Up Activities:

  • Allow time for a nature journal (notebook page provided in the ebook). If you would like to make this study into a year-long project, record your spring fern observations and mark your calendar to return in summer, autumn, and winter to view your fern’s changes.
  • Use careful observation to view the sori on the back of your fern.
  • Make ink prints of your fern frond in your nature journal. Step by step instructions are on my blog: Making Leaf Prints With Ink.
  • Advanced study: Record the story of the fern in your nature journal. Ebook users: Optional: Fern coloring page.

Additional Links:
Guide to Ferns (for Georgia but information that can apply anywhere)

Printable Parts of a Fern

More Nature Study Book 3 Button

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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Silent Nature Walk – Winter Nature Study with the OHC

Winter Wonder Collage

  • Take a Winter Weather Walk and observe as many things in your neighborhood as possible that are special about the winter season.
  • Advanced study: Challenge yourself to take a walk keeping completely silent. Go as a family or all alone.

After checking our weather for the next few weeks, we realized that a winter weather nature walk was not going to happen any time soon. Our Winter Wonder Walk became our Silent Nature Walk instead. This was part of the advanced study suggested for the first challenge from the More Nature Study Book 2 ebook plans.

Winter Wonder walk - Silent Activity
We loaded up the Kona dog and headed to our favorite local trail. Mr. B started off ahead of me so we wouldn’t be tempted to talk. This was a good plan since it also separated us a little as we walked and it seemed that we were all alone which allowed the sounds of the woods to be easily heard.

Ferns along the trail
A few of the things I observed on our Silent Nature Walk:
1. Greenness of the ferns growing alongside the trail on the hillside.
2. Dry trail with acorns..crunching leaves.
3. Birds singing in the woods. The only one I recognized is the Northern Flicker. I also heard some wing flutters coming from the bushes lining the path.
4. The buzz of an insect which I couldn’t see.
5. I noticed a pile of feathers where some forest animal had made a meal.

Winter Wonder walk Advanced Notebook Page
Mr. B wrote his observations on a notebook page when we got home and I was impressed with the different things he noted that I missed as noted below:
1. He heard five birds.
2. He noticed the river’s rushing sound and how it changed as we walked down the canyon.
3. Scrunch of the needles and the pat of the dirt.

He brought home an acorn to sketch into his journal and I brought home a few samples of ferns, an acorn, a weed, and a feather.
Wood fern - back
I was fascinated by the spores on the back of the ferns. I won’t detail here all I learned from the Handbook of Nature Study on ferns but we will in the future have a challenge featuring ferns. I found a wealth of information in Lesson 195 on the fruiting of the fern. There is always something new and interesting to learn.

Western Sword Fern - back
I identified my ferns as the Wood Fern, the Western Sword Fern, and California Maidenhair Fern.

Winter Wonder Walk Journal
Silence. It is a great way to glean a little more from a walk if you can give it a try. I have to admit that several times on the walk when I couldn’t see Mr. B or the Kona dog that I was a little uneasy. It can be too quiet sometimes. I think we become accustomed to having background noise in our life from the computers, the clocks, music, traffic, and each other. Seeking out the quiet is something I think we should do on a regular basis and I will be adding this to future challenges, at least for the advanced study option. I encourage you to grow your children into the habit of spending a least a few minutes of every outdoor nature study time being silent and really listening.

More Nature Study #2 button

It is not too late to join us for this new series of nature study challenges using the Handbook of Nature Study. All of the challenges for this series are gathered into an ebook format along with custom made notebook pages. Click over and see the details and join us this week for a new posted challenge on Friday.

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Wildflowers – Sierra Spring 2011 (Part 3)

Natural Bridge landscape
Perfect day for a hike but a lot of pollen in the air.

I was determined to take a hike last weekend even though conditions were still windy and the pollen count was off the scale. I did something I rarely do and that is to take an antihistamine. Sometimes they work just fine and then other times they make me feel worse so it was a gamble. Other than feeling tired more quickly, I think it ended up being a good day outdoors.

Wildflowers and Creek
Looking down from about half way to the water.

Some of the family had other plans so in the end it was my husband, my oldest son, and I who hit the trail. I like hiking in small groups so this worked out great for taking our time and quietly enjoying the views and wildflowers.There were a few other families on the trail but everyone was friendly.

Unidentified Flower 2

I had my usual wildflower game going where I try to name the flowers as we pass them by…mostly in my head but sometimes out loud if the guys happened to stop to point one out. This plant is something new and we almost missed it growing right along the trail in a rock face.

Unidentified Flower
How it can manage to grow stuck right in the crack of the rock is amazing. You can see the delicate yellow flowers with the cute little pansy-like faces. It is always frustrating to me when I can’t readily identify a plant, although I think I learn more when I have to really break the plant down and look at its parts to work with the field guide. I will come back to edit if I discover the name of this one.

Poppies in the Rock

Here is another angle where you can see a poppy determined to grow right in the same crack. The rock is along a steep section of the trail and there was much graffiti scratched into the surface.

Ferns in a Rock

How about a fern on the same rock?

Back to the hike…it was warm and there were birds singing practically the whole way down to the water (which was our destination).

Hiking Landscape
We had parked at the top of the canyon and began the trail which wound around and down a steep grade. We took our time and noticed quite a bit of poison oak already flourishing at the trail’s edge and I was so glad we didn’t have the dog with us. She is oblivious to poison oak.

This plant is growing in patches alongside the trail on rocky outcrops. It is a striking color and seems to grow right on the rocks. I believe it is a variety of Dudleya, perhaps this one.

Chinese Lanterns
More Chinese lanterns in the shady spots….love this flower.

I have been noticing the abundance of thistle this year. It is very pretty right now with its purple flowers.

Tidy Tips

This is one trail where I know to look for Tidy tips. Look carefully and you will notice the notice the difference between this and other yellow flowers.

Maverick Clover

I really want to take the time to record this flower in my nature journal, partly because it is my favorite color but also because I like the way when you slow down to observe it closely it has the purple dots on the petals that seem to point the way for insects to come and investigate its pollen.

Natural Bridge
So this was our destination….the natural bridge. The creek comes right through the rocks here in this spot….looks like a cave but it is more like a tunnel. You can wade through the water and come out the other side if you want to, which I don’t. We were content to enjoy the sound of the water rushing through the rock and seeing the water cascading down at the opening.

Natural Bridge 2

There are formations on the top that are covered in moss…stalactites from the top rock that hang down. Sort of on the creepy side but still very interesting.

We reached our destination and found a place to sit on the rocks to rest and enjoy the setting. There were quite a number of birds including robins, towhees, swallows, and one bird that sang and sang and sang. I had my mini binoculars with me and I was able to capture a glimpse at him in a tree on the other side of the creek. Between the song and the quick look, I identified him as a Black-headed grosbeak.

We sat near the water for quite a long time just enjoying our first real spring hike of the year. We drank some water and then started back up the hill to the car. Even with allergies, allergy head, and with the heat, I was able to keep up with the men.


One last interesting image from the day….bright orange lichen covered many of the rocks. What a punch of color!

Hope you enjoyed seeing our spring hike and some of our wildflowers….more to come. You can count on that.

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Miscellaneous Nature Study Using The Outdoor Hour Challenges

NOTE: If the challenge is included an ebook, it is noted directly after the challenge. If you have an Ultimate Membership, you will be able to pull up the ebook and print any notebook pages, coloring pages, or other printables for your nature study.
Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library


Outdoor Hour Challenge Mushrooms Lichen Moss Fern Index @handbookofnaturestudy

The links above are Amazon affiliate links to resources I own and love.

Mushroom, Lichen, Moss, Fern Challenges
Bracket Fungi -Autumn Nature Study Continues
Ferns – More Nature Study Spring
Field Horsetail – Autumn 2015
Hedgehog Fungi – Autumn 2015
Moss and Lichen
Moss Observation Notebook Page
Molds, Puffballs, Morels
Mushrooms -Autumn ebook
Extraordinary in the Ordinary – Mushrooms
Mushroom Cap Shapes Notebook Page
Scarlet Cup -Winter Nature Study Continues
Stinkhorn Nature Study -Autumn Nature Study Continues
Parts of  a Mushroom Notebook Page

Newsletters With a Mushroom, Lichen, Moss, or Fern Theme (If you have a membership, you have access to all archived newsletters.)

  • March 2013 – Mushroom, Lichen, and Moss study grid printable. Mushroom coloring page. Types of lichen.
  • March 2016 – Lichen and moss nature study ideas. Lichen Study notebook page. Lichen vocabulary.
  • November 2016 – Mushroom Cap notebook page. Nature study ideas for fungi.


Outdoor Hour Challenge Weather Index @handbookofnaturestudy

Weather Challenges
Autumn Weather – Autumn ebook
Autumn Weather Challenge #1
Autumn – Signs of Autumn
Cloud Observations 
Fall Seasonal Weather Challenge -with free printable notebook page
Fall Color Walk – More Nature Study Autumn
Seasonal Weather with Four Seasons Notebook Pages
Snow– Winter Wednesday
Spring Splendor Walk – More Nature Study Spring
Spring Weather – Spring ebook
Summer Weather – More Nature Study Summer
Weather Record Chart – printable notebook page
Weather Study with Weather Sounds Printable Notebook Page
Weather Walk – Four Seasons free printable notebook page
Winter Weather  -Winter ebook
Winter Wonder Weather– More Nature Study Winter

Seasonal Challenges
December World-free printable notebook page
November World– Autumn ebook
The Winter World

Newsletters With a Weather Theme (If you have a membership, you have access to all archived newsletters.)

  • December 2011 – Know Your Own Backyard in December notebook page. December World study grid.
  • January 2012 – January World study grid.
  • February 2012 – Know Your Own Backyard in February notebook page.
  • March 2012 – Know Your Own Backyard in Early Spring notebook page. Early Spring study grid.
  • April 2013 – April study grid.
  • May 2013 – May study grid.
  • July 2012 – Beat the Heat study grid. Know Your Own Backyard When Its Hot notebook page.
  • December 2012 – Weather study ideas. Weather nature table ideas. My Weather notebook page.
  • September 2013 – Fall Fun grid study. Fall Time Field Trip notebook page.
  • November 2013 – Weather Observation study grid.
  • January 2014 – Winter Fun study grid.
  • February 2014 – February Fun study grid.
  • March 2014 – Lion or Lamb notebook page.
  • June 2014 – Summer Fun grid study printable.
  • February 2015 – Winter nature study ideas.
  • March 2015 – Calendar of Firsts for nature observations. Printable nature calendar.
  • December 2015 – Weather chart printable. My Seasonal Weather notebook page. Weather Study big grid printable.
  • October 2016 – Weather nature study and nature journal ideas.
  • December 2016 – Silent Autumn Nature Walk notebook page.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Reptiles Amphibians invertebrates fish index @handbookofnaturestudy

The links above are Amazon affiliate links to resources I own and love.
Reptiles, Amphibians, Invertebrates, Fish
Banana SlugCreepy Things ebook
Black Widow Creepy Things ebook
Catfish –  Autumn 2015
Common Shiner – Summer Nature Study Continues
Crayfish  –Spring Nature Study Continues
Earthworms– Spring ebook
Fish Nature Study and  Definition Copywork Page
Frogs – Summer ebook
Frog Field Guide Notebook Page
Goldfish Nature Study-free printable notebook page
Johnny Darter – Summer Nature Study Continues
LeechCreepy Things ebook
Lizard, Gecko, Anole Study –Autumn Nature Study Continues
Millipede Creepy Things ebook
Newts -Spring Nature Study Continues
Snakes-Spring ebook
Snails -More Nature Study Spring
Sphinx Moth – Creepy Things ebook
Spring Peepers -Spring Nature Study Continues
Sunfish – Summer Nature Study Continues
TarantulaCreepy Things ebook
Trout and Salmon –Autumn ebook
Turtles and Pondweed-More Nature Study Summer

You may also want to read my review of this awesome resource: National Audubon Society First Field Guide to Reptiles.

Additional Links You May Find Helpful:

Newsletters With a Reptile, Amphibian, Invertebrate, or Fish Theme (If you have a membership, you have access to all archived newsletters.)

  • April 2013 – Reptiles and Amphibians study grid.
  • July 2013 – Fish grid study. Fish Study – Trout notebook page.
  • October 2015 – Reptile Study notebook page.
  • August 2016 – Invertebrate nature journal and nature study ideas. Snail Study notebook page.
  • May 2017 – Fish study grid. Fish nature study and nature journal ideas.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Rock Index @handbookofnaturestudy

The link above is an Amazon affiliate link to a resource I own and love.

Rock Related Challenges
Calcite – Autumn 2015
Crystal Study– Winter Nature Study Continues
Feldspar Study– Winter Nature Study Continues
Granite Study and Other Igneous Rocks – More Nature Study Book Summer
Limestone – Autumn 2015
Magnets and Compass – More Nature Study Winter
Marble – Autumn 2015
Mica Rock Study  – Autumn Nature Study Continues
Quartz Study -More Nature Study Winter
Rock Observation Challenge – free printable chart
Rock Study Using a Magnifying Lens – free printable notebook page
Rock Collection Ideas – free printable activity
Rock Study and printable game activity
Salt Study – Winter ebook
Sand and Soil -More Nature Study Summer

Newsletters With a Rock Theme (If you have a membership, you have access to all archived newsletters.)

  • January 2013 – Rock study grid. Rock collection ideas.
  • February 2016 – Rock nature journal and study ideas.
  • March 2017 – Rock nature study and nature journal ideas.


Outdoor Hour Challenge Sky and Stars Index @handbookofnaturestudy

Sky and Stars
Moon and Moon Names– More Nature Study Winter
Moon and Craters Nature Study-free printable notebook page
My Backyard At Night Notebook Page  (free printable)
Night Sky Study- Cassiopeia – Autumn Nature Study Continues
Orion Study – Winter Nature Study Continues
Winter Sky and Stars  – Winter ebook
Winter Sky– Winter Wednesday
Year-Long Big Dipper Study -free printable notebook page

Newsletters With a Sky or Star Theme (If you have a membership, you have access to all archived newsletters.)

  • August 2013 – Night sky study ideas. Night Sky study grid.
  • July 2016 – Sky and stars nature journal and nature study ideas. Big Dipper study notebook page.


The link above is an Amazon affiliate link to a resource I own and love.
Pond, Beach, and CreekStudy
Cattail Seasonal Nature Study  -free printable notebook page
Pond Seasonal Study -free printable notebook page

Newsletters With a Pond, Beach, or Creek Theme (If you have a membership, you have access to all archived newsletters.)

  • August 2011 – Pond and marsh study ideas. Summer Pond Study notebook page. Pond study grid.
  • June 2012 – Beach and tidepool nature study ideas. Beach grid study printable. My Seashore Study notebook page.
  • July 2013 – Year long pond study ideas.
  • February 2016 – Creek nature study in four seasons. Creek Study notebook page.

Miscellaneous Challenges
Brook – – Autumn 2015
Small Square Study – Winter ebook
Small Square Study – free printable notebook page
Winter Berries –Autumn Nature Study Continues
Winter Colors – Winter Wednesday

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Spring Walk: Wildflowers, Ferns, Holes, and Pines

3 15 10 Meadow Views Popcorn flowers (2)
The glories of spring are bursting out all around in our neck of the woods. The other day I mentioned that I could smell the difference in the air as we hiked. Well, today I noticed that I can hear the difference in the seasons….the woods are filled with birds and insect buzzings. The bees and other flying gnat sort of insects were flying in and out of the meadow as we stopped to observe the flowers. What a welcome sound!

Our meadow view is changing each time we hike this way now. The popcorn flowers are still blooming along with some Sierra Shooting Stars and if you look carefully about center of this photo you will notice a big hole that someone is digging. We are stumped over who could have made it.

critter hole in the trail
Speaking of holes, this is one right in the middle of the pathway. It isn’t as large as the other hole, but our dog loves to stick her nose down there and sniff every time we pass by here.

critter hole with excavation
Here is yet another hole we noticed freshly dug on the side of the trail. This one is not as neat and tidy as the other hole and you can see all the broken rocks and dirt that have been excavated out of the hole. I am assuming two different creatures dug these holes since they are made so differently.

Sometimes we wish we could set up a camera to capture the activity after we leave each day. My boys are always so curious about these holes and we have never really seen anything that we think might be actually digging them. We can venture guesses, but if we had a camera rigged up we might confirm our ideas.

The only creatures besides birds that we saw on our hike today were a Gray squirrel and an Alligator lizard and we know neither of those critters made these holes.

Sierra shooting star
Here they are! Sierra Shooting Stars….there are so many of these blooming right now that some areas are just polka-dotted with pink. It must be spring.

mules ears
We will watch these Mule’s Ears for a long time before they actually bloom with a sunflower shaped flower. Can you guess why they call them Mule’s Ears?

fern frontside
We have been noticing all the new growth on the ferns on the sides of the canyon as we walk down.

fern backside
Here is the backside of the fern. Isn’t it interesting? We are determined to spend some time this week learning more about ferns.

maiden hair fern
The Maidenhair ferns are so beautiful right now. Notice the black stems?

fern unfurling
This is what a fern looks like as it unfurls its fronds. They are all curled up like this to begin with and then they slowly unroll and flatten out. Fascinating and amazing at the same time!

pine growth
Wow! The pines along the trail are all popping out with these red growths on the ends of the branches. We are going to research what part of the plant this is…the new needles, the cones, something else? My boys think they are the baby cones. I’m not sure. Time to investigate.

Edit 4/28/10: These are pollen cones. These are the male cones and they contain the pollen to fertilize the seeds which are on the female pine cone. Now we know.

pine needles
We are not even sure what kind of pine tree this is. Look at the length of those needles!

The only other thing worth mentioning is that our black lab had FIVE ticks on her when we got back to the car. It is definitely tick season and we will start to make appropriate adjustments to our hiking routine, long pants for us and a thorough going over the dog’s fur before we head home each day. If you catch the ticks before they burrow in, you can just flick them off easily. They are actually fairly easy to spot and we rarely have trouble with them actually biting us or the dog. She gets regular flea and tick protection applied and it seems to work well.

We are off on an adventure today to another county. I relish a new place to hike and since we are taking a few weeks off as part of our “spring break”, the boys are eager to get outside in the sunshine. The predicted high today is around 70 degrees. Yahoo! So we are off to pack a lunch and fill up our water bottles to spend a day being refreshed by a new territory to discover.

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Keeping Our Sanity with Daily Nature Study

” Out in this, God’s beautiful world, there is everything waiting to heal lacerated nerves, to strengthen tired muscles, to please and content the soul that is torn to shreds with duty and care….She (teacher/mother) finds, first of all, companionship with her children; and second, she finds that without planning or going on a far voyage, she has found health and strength.”

Handbook of Nature Study, page 3

This week has had its ups and downs but by far the ups have outweighed the downs….thanks for the encouraging words and comments and your understanding.

This seemed like a perfect week to take a break from the Outdoor Hour Challenge writing and just get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine with my family.

We have made time to walk everyday and with each new day we observed something to let us know that spring is coming quickly.

We had a visitor in our backyard yesterday. This mourning dove stayed around long enough for us to really observe all his field marks. We saw the black stripe on the head, the spots on the wings, the black and white on the long tail, and if you click this photo and look at his feet….you will see how pink/purple they were.

In the spirit of trying to catalog the wildflowers on our daily hikes, I found this plant that is one of my particular favorites. It is actually one of a handful of wildflowers that I learned about as a child. Mule Ears look like sunflowers when they bloom.

Edit: I now think that this is not Mule Ears but is Arrowleaf Balsamroot.

Here is the beginnings of the bloom.

We have been watching this particular wildflower along the trail for a week or so now and it is popping out in blooms more everyday.

It is called Western Hound’s Tongue. I think it is funny that in this post I have Mule’s Ears and Hound’s Tongue…..aren’t those great names?

Here is a close-up of the blossom.

Here is another plant with a great name….

California Maidenhair Fern.
It is so pretty and if you look very closely, the stems are black.

Amanda had time to join us yesterday on our hike and it was great to spend an hour or so out exploring in the woods together.

As a busy young adult it is not always easy to make time to get outdoors but she said afterward that it was refreshing and encouraging to see all the signs of spring along the trail.

Here is a photo from the other day that I have to show you. The last big rainstorms washed a section of the trail away and exposed a lot of rock. Since we live in gold country, I sort of jokingly said that maybe there was some gold washed down along with the rocks.

My teen decided he was going to climb down and take a look. We didn’t find any gold but we did find quite a bit of really pretty quartz.

This week has truly been saved by two things: prayer and our outdoor time. Our outdoor time is even better when we spend time together…..relationships made stronger by shared experiences.

Hope you have a great week and I will hopefully have the computer situation under control and the next Outdoor Hour Challenge next Friday.

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Winter Break Walks-Time That Speeds By

“The teacher may judge as to her own progress in nature-study by the length of time she is glad to spend in reading from nature’s book what is therein written. As she progresses, she finds those hours spent in studying nature speed faster, until a day thus spent seems but an hour.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 7

She is not a little pup anymore. She is only six months old but she is a good size dog already. She loves to walk with us on our rambles in the woods. She loves to explore and sniff and encourage us to go a little further each time. My son affectionately calls her the Lovable Labrador but her real name is Kona.

Even though we have been on a break from our regular school studies, we are still making time for lots of nature walks. It is the perfect time to enjoy each other’s company and to share some adventures.

Today on our walk we had the unmistakable scent of a skunk just about the whole trip down the canyon and back up again. We didn’t see the skunk at any time but he was very close by. We have been seeing signs of other animals along the trail….some holes scratched in the trail’s bank and lots of mole holes in the little clearing. The buckeye fruits are starting to be nibbled on and left by the side of the path. The trails off into the woods are becoming more distinct as the ground become wet and the animals follow the same path every time….muddy trails up the banks and off to the deep part of the wood.

There are plenty of interesting things to look at as we walk along. This winter weed is pretty all brown and full of velcro-like stickers.

The ferns are really growing now and the shades of green found in the different varieties are showing very clearly.

With all the leaves gone from this oak, you can see clearly the mistletoe growing up on the branches.

Here is a try at a close-up of the mistletoe hanging up high in the tree. I could not find any information on mistletoe in the Handbook of Nature Study which surprised me.

I am testing out a new book (see below) for my boys to use in their nature study….something with a little more depth than the Handbook. I am looking for a book that will supplement the Handbook of Nature Study when it does not cover particular subjects that we have in our area of the world. I am beginning to think it is totally unreasonable to expect any one book to cover all the bases and that is why I am going to be checking out a few other resources for our family to use. I will keep you posted how this book works out for us over the next few months.

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Learning Something New: Our Family’s Outdoor Hour Challenge #42 Moss and Lichen

In our part of the world it is the perfect time to be looking for and observing closely the mosses and lichens in our yard. Last week I posted an entry sharing one of our favorite local hikes that has literally come alive with mosses.

After reading the Handbook of Nature Study, we were on the lookout for some haircap moss. I looked it up in our field guide and it showed that we have it here in California so we were determined to find some to look at in person.

Last week on our hike we noticed the “little parts that stick up” and those are actually the spore capsules as shown in the diagram on page 710. Here is a photo of them as well.

These are about three inches high.

This is a close-up of the moss and lichen we saw growing on so many of the trees. In the top photo of this blog entry, you can see how it grows all the way up the tree trunks in this part of the forest. The greens of the mosses and ferns really show up in the forest as you walk along at this time of year when most of the green leaves have fallen from the deciduous trees.

We found some fungus growing on this fallen tree branch…new to us.

It had such a vivid color and look at the green growing on the branch as well….not sure what it is but it is pretty.

Then as we looked closely, we saw this part of a wasp’s nest on the ground right next to us. It was very delicate and soft.

We found this pretty fern growing all along the trail’s edge on the little embankment. It has a black stem and pretty bright green leaves. I think it is a California Maidenhair fern. I realize now that there are really three different kinds of ferns in the photo…I’m not sure what kind they are but I will update when I find out.

Can you tell we have enjoyed our week of exploring and looking for moss and lichen? We have been out three times on the trail and each time we have found something new to learn about. No nature journals this week yet but I am hoping to add at least an entry showing the parts of the haircap moss or something showing the life cycle. I know that we covered this in biology last year but I want to make it more real for the boys by viewing these things in real life and then making a nature journal entry to show what we learned.