Nature Inspires Growth at the Wye Marsh
“Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher.” ~ W.Wordsworth
With so much of our lives spent indoors at work and home, a daily dose of nature is so important to help maintain balance in our lives and in ourselves. A chance to get outdoors; go for a walk, enjoy your backyard oasis or visit a local park or wildlife refuge allows us to not only connect with nature but enriches our lives, mind, body and soul. There is also so much to see and learn while taking time outdoors and it was all too clear that nature inspires growth at the Wye Marsh’s Get Outdoors Festival.
Get Outdoors Festival
I was thrilled when the Wye Marsh welcomed me to visit them for their Get Outdoors Festival (to learn more about the Wye Marsh check out Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre and the about the Festival check out Indulge in Nature at Wye Marsh’s Get Outdoors Festival). The festival took place August 8th and 9th and Wow! did we have fantastic summer weather, beautiful blue skies and sunshine and nice warm temperatures. The forested trails helped to keep you comfortable and the presentations and activities filled the day. I had five main objectives when I headed north to the Wye Marsh on the Sunday of the Get Outdoors Festival;
1 – Check out the hummingbird banding
2 – Check out the monarch butterfly tagging and release
3 – Hike the trails
4 – Check out the Birds of Prey presentation
5 – Enjoy a beautiful day outdoors!
After finishing our morning coffees, checking in and getting our wristbands we headed over to the hummingbird banding station. And what a surprise, we were just in time for the first hummingbird of the morning, a first year hatchling male ruby-throated hummingbird. He was so small and Jo (one of the banders) told us how she could tell he was a yearling as he didn’t have his ruby throat (which is only present on adult males) because of his speckled throat and single red feather emerging. She even allowed us to hear his tender heartbeat that buzzed as his precious body was pressed to my ear giving me shivers. That morning six ruby-throated hummingbirds were caught and banded and then released. I even had the amazing chance to hold one in my hand before it took off. It’s close encounters like these that leave lasting memories and bring us closer to wildlife and urge us to do our part to protect them. I was so awe-struck by the banding process, through I knew what it was I never imagined witnessing it being done on such a small species. What is banding? Banding is the process of placing a ring around a bird’s leg that is numbered specifically to that bird, and notes are taken on the location of bird, its approximate age and it’s size. The couple doing the banding were Jo and Bruce Murphy an awesome pair, beaming with passion for birds and promoting education.
After the last hummingbird was released we headed into the trails, I love hiking the trails at the Wye Marsh, even on a busy day the extensive network allow for plenty of peace and one on one time with nature. Though we didn’t encounter chickadees like we did in the winter when we went snowshoeing (read more about it here) we did see a few birds, frogs, chipmunks, squirrels and even a very friendly chipmunk who took a liking to my father.
Our next stop was over at the Observation Tower where Heather Willett and her young assistant (daughter) were educating the crowd on the magnificent monarch butterfly as well as tagging and releasing them. It’s always a magical experience to be in the presence of butterflies, especially the iconic monarch. Heather delicately held the monarchs to tag them with a small round sticker with its personal id on the underside of its wing and then let them go. The first one was eager to start its journey south to the rainforests of Mexico and took off, but the second one fluttered into the wildflowers that surrounded us and to the crowds excitement lingered as we all snapped photos of this beautiful butterfly. Monarch butterflies are an astounding species that like myself are in it for the journey. Monarch butterflies are known as the king of butterflies, hence the name monarch. These delicate creatures go through an amazing transformation to make their journey to their hibernating grounds in Mexico, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly and then perish after 2 – 6 weeks. Four generations go through this process but the fourth one is special as it will live for 6 – 8 months so it can make the longest insect migration in North America, travelling up to 8,000km.
Every weekend the Wye Marsh puts on a Wet n’ Scaly presentation on local reptiles and amphibians as well as a Birds of Prey presentation. And on this gorgeous day we decided to take in the Birds of Prey presentation. The two gregarious and witty animal keepers introduced the large and excited crowd to various birds of prey from small to large and native to non-native species and had them show off their amazing adaptations of flight. From owls, like Alice a tawny owl who we got to pet and was quite chatty and sweet to hawks like our native red-tailed. At the end of the show the children got the awesome experience of a lifetime as they dawned the falconer’s glove and had a Harris hawk swoop down to land on their arm. What a life altering experience for these children to get up close to and learn about these fascinating creatures and in turn inspire them to care more about them, perhaps want to learn more and hopefully help do their part to protect them.
As a blogger I spend a lot of time at my computer and writing – too much time indoors!, but this summer I decided to take my work outdoors as much as possible, from writing at the lake front to taking my computer on my back deck, to surround myself with nature and the beauty of the great outdoors. I must admit though it’s hard sometimes the benefits are well worth it, my anxiety softens, my muscles relax and I feel lighter when I take time to get outdoors. And because of my time spent outdoors this summer, whether watching behaviours of birds in my own backyard or learning from experts at the Wye Marsh’s Get Outdoors Festival, I feel more enriched and though I’ve learned so much this summer, nature has inspired me to keep growing!