First, we practiced using binoculars & magnifying glasses. It did not take long before campers found a juvenile red-tailed hawk perched on a street light eating prey... and with the start of camp, the bioblitz began! Campers found that binoculars allowed them to see wildlife that was far away and hard to see with the naked eye. Magnifying glasses were great to look at small critters that were on the ground or on plants. Using these tools, campers saw organisms big and small!
The second activity of the day was a Jeopardy style game called “Who’s Scat is That?!”. Campers had to answer animal mysteries based on bioclues such as pelts, scat, tracks, and riddles. Campers and staff had so much fun with this game, we didn’t take many pictures… but below you can see an example of the bio-clues that campers saw. Can you solve what park animal the clues are for below? See the end of the blog for the answer.
With the warm, fall weather we have been having lately, we were able to get into the River for a critter crawl. This is a favorite activity at SPREE camp, and we try to do one every day of holiday camp. This day, there were so many fish and crawdads swimming around and we had great luck catching lots of critters!
We wrapped up the day by creating a SPREE biodiversity web! Each camper became a living or nonliving thing from the Denver South Platte ecosystem. Using yarn, we connected ourselves with each other through how different characters may be connected to each other. For example, our frog connected themselves with our beaver because beavers create wetlands where frogs may live.
During the field day, campers went on an extended hike equipped with field guides for plants, birds, mammals, and reptiles as well as the essential naturalist tools of binoculars and magnifying glasses. During this hike, campers wrote a list of several dozen organisms that they found during their bioblitz. Animals included geese, cottonwood trees, blue spruce, switchgrass, hardstem bulrush, ladybugs, bees, and more!
Field days are all about fun. So we made sure to take a brain break and play some games while we were outside! Being SPREE, we like our games to be focused on our local ecosystem. Campers learned while playing games like “Beavers and Lodges”, “Heron, Trout, Mosquito”, and “Steal the Acorn.”
….. And of course we took some time to get silly in the fallen ash tree leaves
We ended our field day with a real surprise! Denver Police Officers were training their dogs at the park for sniffing explosives. They saw we had a group of kids, and offered to give us a little lesson about their pup’s important jobs. It was so interesting to learn about these important roles, and campers even got to see Sophie (dog) sniff out an unloaded weapon.
It was so much fun going on a SPREE BioBlitz this week. Campers and teachers alike got to see a lot of wildlife in the city that is easy to overlook! We hope to see you again down by the River!
Answer to animal mystery above? Racoon!