(For more pictures, click HERE.)
Hi! I’m Benny the Beaver, here at Lake Conestee Nature Park. I just wanted to thank the Upstate Master Naturalists for coming to visit my home this week.
This area is known as an Important Bird Area but we also have copperheads and timber rattlesnakes here. The lake was established when it was dammed up to give power to the local mill. At the time, Greenville was becoming a great textile center.
Ranger Tim led the group through the different areas of the park. First they stopped in an area that was the edge of an agricultural area going through some advanced old field succession. This ecotone had lots of diversity here and the group heard many different birds. Ranger Tim also showed the group the honey locust tree which grows in the Piedmont and has really long thorns. He also showed a wild cherry tree, a pecan tree, wisteria and a Bradford pear tree.
As they walked further into the forest, they came into a young forest which was obvious by the young trees they saw. There were mostly poplars and sweet gums all around. The soil was made up of sand and minerals because flooding took most of the organic material away.
Two ferns seen were ebony spleenwort (the stem is ebony colored and it grows in mineral soils) and Grape Fern. Ground Cedar was also abundant.
When they arrived at the lake, they saw Pickerel Weed and Spatterdock (the leave stays above the water and has a yellow flower) which makes for a great fish habitat. They also saw Parrotfeather which has a green feather like leaf that stays above the water also. Mosquito fern is the smallest fern in the park and looks like pink or rust colored flowered on the surface of the water. At one overlook, they got to see closer up at the beautiful dams that my family and I have built around. We really work hard and them and make the area look pretty too.
After leaving the lake, the group saw Box Elder which is the only compound leaf maple in North America. You can make maple syrup from its sap but it takes a lot of sap since it doesn’t have the same sugar content as sugar maple. Sycamore and Black Willow were also peeking out from the forest. On the ground were puffball fungus that were little round brown balls.
Of course the resident poison ivy was in full autumn color along the trail. More than 30-40 species of birds love these berries.
Luckily someone spotted a giant silk moth before everyone stepping on it. It was a beautiful lime green with red spots and a yellowish green line down the sides. After much investigation in the guide book, they decided that this was a luna moth. Ranger Tim reminded everyone that fuzzy caterpillars are moths but not all moths are fuzzy.
During lunch, Erica Hollis from Upstate Forever talked to the group and after lunch Dr. Jeff Beacham talked about wetlands. He mentioned that there are three criteria for a wetland: hydrology, vegetation, and soil.
All in all, I think everyone had a nice time visiting my habitat.
(It is much more interesting to talk in first person as a resident of a habitat rather than just spitting out boring facts. Students could be encouraged to do this as an animal or person to share information. Have you done this in your classroom? If so, please share!)
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).