Oh my gosh. I could blog for days on the experiences of the weekend. Maybe I will return to this weekend for blogging material. So much happened… where to begin?
The Allegany Nature Pilgrimage is a collaborative effort of Jamestown Audubon, Buffalo Audubon, Presque Isle Audubon, and the Burroughs Nature Club. This year was their 49th such effort! The committee rents the “Camp Allegany” section of Allegany State Park (Cattaraugus County, Western New York) for their main headquarters. Huge tents are erected for the special events. For example, one of the main speakers was Bill Thompson. (I just figured out the relationship between Bill and Julie Zickefoose this weekend. I guess I’m a little slow.)
OK, enough with the name-dropping. Hee hee.
This was the third year that I took a vanful of kids to the Pilgrimage. The first year we went and attended various programs, I thought that Rex (one of our teens who is an AWESOME herpetologist) could give a program at this pilgrimage that would knock the socks off these folks. So, for the last two years, Rex has been on the program. That’s him, pictured above after his talk, answering questions about all the critters he brought along. (By the way, he also has grant-writing experience: He wrote – and got – a Kids First Mini-Grant to buy all those critter carriers!)
The other teens that come along are all too happy to assist. Here’s Matt with a salamander, getting ready to show it to the folks as Rex talks:
And here’s Emily (under the hat) with a snake:
I had a bit of an emotional moment after Rex’s second presentation on Sunday morning. I am so proud of these kids! One of the teens had told me before the weekend that she was afraid of snakes and another told me she wouldn’t feel comfortable going around showing the animals. When I arrived partway into the program after taking care of the van, there they both were – carrying snakes around so the audience could get a closer look. I love to see people conquer their fears.
We attended some programs, too. Maddie and Abby (I wish I could remember if that is the right spelling for her name) attended a paper-making workshop. Kyle, who has been on the trip all three years, felt comfortable enough to go off on a couple of programs without us – one on old growth forests with our friend Tom and another talk with one of his favorite presenters, Lon Meyers. Several of us attended Kyle’s favorite walk, Lon’s “Splash Hike”.
There was also time for frisbee, campfires, and a bit of exploring on our own in creeks and at Thunder Rocks. I think my favorite nature moment happened when Jeremy Martin convinced Suzi, Kyle and me to sneak away for a little dragon hunting while the other kids played frisbee. We went up to a beaver pond (now inactive), and Jeremy netted a couple of nice dragons. This one was my favorite, because I had never seen it before: Beaverpond Baskettail. Don’t you love the blue eyes. But that’s not my favorite… Unfortunately, I have no picture of this: On the way back from the pond, we heard some snorting in the brush. “Is that a deer?” we collectively asked each other. Then we saw her… We had startled her just as she was getting ready to drop a fawn. We saw her briefly walking in a strange, strange way – the fawn already part way out. She disappeard behind some shrubs. The snorting continued for a couple more minutes… then silence.
We knew we couldn’t go back in there to see what was happening… All we could do was imagine the scene. Still, just knowing that we were standing nearby while it happened was magical.
For more pictures from the weekend (toads, moths, flowers, creek creatures, etc), check out my Flickr site:
And put it on your calendar now for next year; the fiftieth annual should be the best one yet! It’s always the Friday-Saturday-Sunday that follows Memorial Day.