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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Plainfield Christmas Bird Count - Results

Date: 12/19/2015
Temperature: 22F / 35F
Number of Participants: 42

Canada Goose 491
Mallard 16
Canvasback 1
Ring-necked Duck 3
Lesser Scaup 2
Hooded Merganser 4
Common Merganser 7
Ruffed Grouse 13
Wild Turkey 210
Cooper's Hawk 2
Bald Eagle 1
Red-tailed Hawk 7
Ring-billed Gull 4
Rock Pigeon 266
Mourning Dove 118
Barred Owl 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 38
Hairy Woodpecker 29
Pileated Woodpecker 4
Northern Shrike 1
Blue Jay 189
American Crow 1751
Common Raven 56
Black-capped Chickadee 965
Tufted Titmouse 31
Red-breasted Nuthatch 66
White-breasted Nuthatch 65
Brown Creeper 3
Carolina Wren 3
Golden-crowned Kinglet 12
American Robin 36
European Starling 418
Cedar Waxwing 1
American Tree Sparrow 27
Dark-eyed Junco 123
White-throated Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 42
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
House Finch 4
Purple Finch 252
Pine Siskin 85
American Goldfinch 479
Evening Grosbeak 1
House Sparrow 147

Friday, December 11, 2015

Dinosaurs at NBNC

Heart thumping, legs stretching, a forest preschooler slides into the den between two trees at deer camp, narrowly escaping a friend in pursuit.  Safe…for now.  The fox stalks outside, sniffing, searching, but the mouse is out of sight.

At Forest Preschool this fall many engaging games emerged around the predator/prey relationship.  Camouflage, in particular, was a favorite activity on our morning walk through the meadow.  Some days the children became coyotes and rabbits; other days they transformed into hawks and mice or into a flock of hungry crows in a farmer’s field.  The children invented multiple scenarios and never tired of sneaking and hiding and being chased. 

 Along with the familiar Vermont animals, there was another creature that accompanied us on our journeys: this one larger and hungrier than all the others.  Dinosaurs metamorphosed almost daily out of predator or prey; a hunted mouse could easily transform before our eyes into a fearsome t-rex that then became the hunter. 

Excited to explore the activities and habits of the animals that actually share our home with us, I initially resisted the persistent appearance of this bygone reptile in our adventures.   What do dinosaurs have to do with where we are right now, I wondered?  So I kept watching and I began to understand that the dinosaurs are very much a part of the ecology at NBNC, that is, the inner ecology of the children who play here.  Dinosaurs are the allies of young children who, due to their size and age, inherently face new situations that can be scary and challenging on a regular basis.  As growing, developing human beings, children desire and need to take risks…healthy risks.  And that is where the dinosaurs come in.  T-rex’s are fearsome creatures but unlike wolves and bears (or zombies), they are undeniably extinct and therefore, safe.  There is no chance of bumping into a stegosaurus in the goldenrod.  The only thing that gives it life is imagination and the children are fully in charge of that.  Healthy risk – climbing trees, sliding down hills, balancing on logs – can be scary, but like the dinosaurs, just scary enough…for growth and learning. 

At Forest Preschool, the children learn to calculate and navigate manageable risk in their play.  As their teachers it is our job to enable that stretching process and ensure their safety.  It is through their own self-chosen exploration that they will develop the resilience and self-reliance so important to life.

 Learning is exciting.  And risky.  And the dinosaurs are there to help.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Warmth: is it learned or instinctual?

In first grade at ECO, foundations for surviving winter are essential. Beyond learning how to layer our bodies in warm clothing and boots, we discover countless ways to stay warm in the woods. We use our internal fire to share a song and warm ourselves by the communal fire. We gather together and notice one another in the light of the fire's warmth.

We use the fire's alchemy to roast apple quarters, warm our salt dough sculptures and make popcorn.

While some of us sit by the fire to warm our bodies, others self-organize when invited to build a fort in the woods. These children relocate hefty tree trunks as material for the base of their fort. Among cries of excitement, we hear, "Okay, everyone drop it!" and "Go find another one!". Leaders emerge as loud voices are welcomed in this heavy duty labor of the vast forest. This instinct to move wood not only warms the body, it establishes a pattern for future woodchuck-ing, or preparing the woodpile for winter. Warmth: is it learned or is it instinctual?

There are many important ways to warm oneself during the seasonal dark of winter in Vermont!