Sunday, February 28, 2010

Basic Tracking

Basic Tracking - With the new fallen snow, it is easy to see a wide assortment of comings and goings. Trying to figure out who belongs to a track can be challenging. Identification usually requires a clear print, a track pattern, determining the width of that pattern and lots of practice. In a perfect world, the print should tell you the number of toes and if toenails are present. However, the freezing and thawing of snow quickly distorts them. Feeling the print with your fingers is a good way of determining the number of toes. The track pattern tells you the way in which the animal moved - walking, pacing, bounding or galloping. How fast it was going; if it was "tracking" (placing one foot directly into the footprint of the one in front of it) and if it was dragging its tail. The pattern width helps determine the size of the animal. Knowledge of the life style of the local fauna is helpful too in narrowing down who you are following. Tracking is really the art of putting all these clues together. The web offers lots of tips. But in the field, a good book is the best tool. Even if you can't figure it out, following a trail is a quiet easy way of getting closer to the great outdoors.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Women's Hiking Group 2/23

The Women's Hiking Group will not meet this morning (2/23) due to school closings.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Women's Hiking Group week of February 22

The Women's Hiking Group will meet this week Tues (2/23) and Thurs (2/25) at 9:30 am and hike at Aldrich Park in Ridgefield.
Directions: Take Farmingville Rd to New Rd. Parking area and park entrance are on New Rd.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Every wonder why Mars appears as a red dot in the night sky? Its hue even gave it its name. Following the Greek tradition, the ancient Romans named it after Mars, their God of War, as it reminded them of the blood spilled on battlefields. Now we know the Martian surface was created mostly by large shield volcanoes. These types of volcano produce large volumes of free flowing lava capable of covering vast areas. The cooled lava became basalt. The minerals in Mars' basalt contain high concentrations of iron. When these minerals combine with oxygen (oxidize), they turn a reddish color similar to rust. Mars has no surface liquid to wash them away. Instead, its atmospheric wind erodes the basalt into very fine dust particles which now cover the Martian landscape. Because this dust contains lots of oxidized minerals, it is mostly rusty in color. Thus when sunlight reflects off its surface, Mars gives off a reddish glow.

Similar soil can be found on Earth too. Hawaii's shield volcano Mauna Kea created similar basalt. Its iron rich minerals have oxidized, eroded and accumulated. Now it so closely resembles the Martian landscape that NASA tests off-world technology on it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis): This native fern is a common sight in Ridgefield's swamps and marshes. In summer their large green infertile leaves are sometimes 2 - 3 feet tall and can often be found growing in large groups. The colonists gave it this name not because it was sensitive to touch but instead these large fronds die quickly when touched by the first frost. This time of year, it is the separate beaded fertile frond that is obvious. The frost turns it a dark brown making it appear like a beaded twig sticking up out of the snow. These little beads are really mini sacs of spores. Come springtime, they will burst open sending the spores off into the wind in hopes of creating the next generation. Because of this unique structure, the plant is sometimes called the Bead Fern.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Women's Hiking Group 2/18

The Women's Hiking Group will meet today (Thurs, 2/18) at 9:30 am and snowshoe at the Ridgefield Golf Course, 545 Ridgebury Road.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

7 new inches of snow

Some Native American Tribes called February's Full Moon - The Full Hunger Moon.
Traditionally it is the month when the most snow falls thus making hunting difficult. The new 7 inches of power that fall yesterday is a good example. While it makes places like Dly Golf Course great for skiing or snowshoeing, the local wildlife have to work hard for their dinner. Today tracks on Dly showed a fox hunting and deer browsing on tree bark but hardly any small animal tracks.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Women's Hiking Group February 16

The Women's Hiking group will not meet on Tuesday, Feb 16 due to school closings.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Women's Hiking Group February 9 & 11

The Women's Hiking Group will meet this week Tues (2/9) and Thurs (2/11) at 9:30 am at Hemlock Hills.
Directions: Ridgebury Road to Ned's Mountain Road. Entrance is on right across from Bogus Road.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Ridgefield Press has "Inspire Your Heart with Art" on front page

This week's Ridgefield Press has a great photo from our "Inspire Your Heart with Art" program on the front page, with two adorable Discovery Center kids with their creations.