Sunday, August 25, 2013

Nature Study Outing - First Signs of Fall

 For our outing last week, the children and I spent the morning at our favorite creekside spot.  The steller's jays were particularly loud this morning, and two turkey vultures (my son's favorite bird, and a common one in our area) perched on the oak just above us while we ate our breakfast. 

We saw our usual summer "friends"--the rose hips and bull thistle along the banks of the pond, yellow star thistle mixed in with the last few mustard flowers of the season, poison oak, pepper trees laden with their spicy pods.

But we also noticed some first signs of fall:

Glimpses of gold here and there--walnut leaves peeking through the dense evergreens.

The maples have started to dry out and were covered with huge clusters of samaras.

We also noticed a new-to-us tree, which I recognized right away even though we hadn't observed any in person before: the California horse-chestnut (also called the California buckeye).  Its palmate leaves and opposite branching make it very easy to spot.   As the children noted, the fruit kind of looks like an under-ripe lemon.  But when it's cut open, there is a large nut/seed inside rather than flesh.  After we identified our first buckeye, we found lots more along the banks of the creek and along the trail, mixed in with the sycamores, maples, and oaks.

And lest you think all our outings go perfectly smoothly, this is what my toddler looked like for the last half of our walk:

Yep, that's a foot sticking in her face, from baby sister in the Ergo on my back.  I sometimes finish our trips carrying two babies, one in my arms and one on my back.  Luckily this week, she was a bit clingy but happy to walk, as long as she had a grasp on one of my legs.  And that's how nature study really looks in our home. ;)

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