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On Friday the 7th, I took my college zoology class at KHS to Watkin's Mill SP for our annual end of the year trip.  I start them out by finding an isolated spot for each student to sit and experience an oak-hickory forest awaken on a spring morning.  They were all on time for departing from school and I was able to have them placed in the woods by 5:30 a.m. and then let them sit till about 7:00 a.m..  I do not let them have access to the time and their estimates were from one hour to three hours.  They all have different experiences and noticed varyious aspects of nature.  One student showed me a large hatch of millipedes that was present right next to him.  Others had deer walk up on them and check them out.  They all are always amazed at how many birds are calling before the sun even rises.  They particularly liked the WHIP-POOR-WILLS and the barred owls.  One girl had a snail start crawling on her backpack while she sat and then kept it there through our hike and nature study till 2:00 p.m..   Rarely are we on the paved trail or road.  I take them through the variety of habitats pointing out how they vary due to age(succession stage), competition for sunlight, etc... .  Catbirds were common as were E. Towhees and Field sparrows.  Once, two Carolina wrens were flushed and remained very close and performed for us.    Warbling vireos, Summer Tanagers, and Yellow Warblers were singing in most wooded areas of the park.  As it was fairly cold, we only saw one reptile...a three-toed box turtle.

After lunch by the small waterfall we headed to the parking lot near the dam.  Everyone got good looks at ORCHARD ORIOLES and Baltimore Orioles.  Above the lake, there was one FORESTER'S TERN and we saw our first C. Goose gosling.

Even though it was cool in temperature, we had a great day and one they will remember.  I wish we could have seen all the warblers that Kristi Mayo reported but a somewhat large group makes it difficult and we probably concentrated more on local flora identification, non-bird species, overall ecology, and land management.

Well, enjoy this awesome spring and all you mom's out there, have a blessed Mother's day!!

Terry L. Miller
Kearney HS
Clay Co., MO
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