Welcome to the Audubon Wildlife Guards Blog!
Every week, we, the Audubon Wildlife Guards, will be updating our blog, talking about our experiences on field trips, exciting days on the beach, or even how we're liking the program so far! Make sure to keep up with our blog posts, you never know what cool birds we may see!
Rainy Days at Stratford Point
When the weather is looking stormy, the Bridgeport WLG's head to Stratford Point to learn some lessons. Today, we learned about different aspects of birds, including feathers, beaks, and how to identify juveniles from adults.
:"Today I learned that the feathers of a bird, as well as the shape, eye color, and skull can tell the age of a bird. I also learned that birds molt their feathers because they get worn out after a year. So interesting!" - Ichell
"Learning about bird banding proved to be very interesting. I enjoyed learning about the different birds that inhabitant the Southbury Audubon office and how the whole banding process works. Drawing my Blue Jay wing, with Corrie's direction, was also fun to do. It was very satisfying once I saw the end result." - Alex
Hammonasset Beach State Park
On Thursday, the Wildlife Guards traveled to Hammonasset Beach State Park. An Audubon field tech, Dennis, taught the group about Purple Martins. He told us that for 30 years, the Purple Martin boxes were made out of wood, but because of the wood decay, the Purple Martin population at the park began to decline. As a result, the boxes were made out of metal, increasing the population! By Megis Point, we saw the Osprey nest. The nest had 4 chicks who were close to fledging. Inside the nature center, we watched the Osprey nest from a camera's view. We received some free time and were able to explore the nature center. We visited an exhibit called "In the Air" which had spider crabs, live horseshoe crabs, sea robins, and so much more!
At lunch, all the guards got more acquainted with each other by playing a name ice breaker. With 16 kids, it was tough, but we were able to do it! After our game, another Audubon technician taught us about monitoring the plovers on the beach. It's mind-blowing that plovers nest on such an active beach like Hammonasset.
After our lesson, we were able to have some fun in the sun and go swimming! By the end of the trip, all the guards were closer and happy to have such a great field trip!
For our very first trip of the program, we went to the Peabody Museum! There we saw collections of birds and eggs, the California Gold Rush exhibit, and the new renovations for the museum. In the egg collection room, we saw the smallest bird in the world which is the Bee Hummingbird. We also saw a Harpy Eagle which is the biggest eagle in the world. A fun fact that we learned about the Harpy Eagle is that the claws look like bear claws. They added a new exhibit called California Gold Rush showing how they mined for gold. It also included artifacts showing how people in the 1850’s mined for gold. As part of the new renovations, they plan on expanding the museum in order to add more artifacts.
During this trip, we also met the West Haven Wildlife Guards. Our crew leaders split us up into teams that were comprised of both crews for our scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt was composed of questions relating to various exhibits throughout the museum. The purpose of it was not only for educational reasons, but also a fun way for both crews to get to know each other while working together. We had so much fun on our first field trip and we can’t wait for the next one!
Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy
"We learned about different cranes from all over Connecticut and different continents. For example I learned about cranes from Africa and Australia. I found those more interesting because they looked very unique. There were other birds that I also found interesting. I think overall my trip to Litchfield was an educational experience. I am very grateful to have gone out and to have explored the wonderful exotic and beautiful birds."
"Being able to see fouls from various parts of the world in one enclosure co-living was very interesting, there’d be birds from Africa just napping next to a duck from Australia was a cool concept when you think about it. Loved the learning experience."
Stratford Point Gardens
"We learned about the imporce of Stratford point for bird migration and as a habitat for wildlife in general. We planted several different plants that will grow into a great place for native and migratory birds."
"The ground was rocky, it felt like we were working on the surface of the sun, and the mosquitoes hiding in the shade was ruthless but we persevered and got the job done. I have high hopes the plants we planted will flourish and provide food and housing for numerous native and migratory birds for many generations to come."
Plant Walk with Nelson DeBarros
Nelson DeBarros, CT State Botanist visited Pleasure Beach to teach the Guards about vegetation and plants at the park. One of the many plants that the guards learned about is the New England blazing-star (Liatris novae-angliae) which is classified as species of special concern in Connecticut. This plant is native to our state and is also found in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. It grows in dry sandy grassland with a height of 2-5 feet and has very pretty small reddish-purple flowers. The flowers bloom August to September. Another plant that the guards learned about is the Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). Mugwort is considered an invasive species. It was imported from Euro-Asia and is a herbaceous plant, a memeber of the daisy family. Over the ages, this plant has been put to medicinal, culinary, and magical use. In the Middle Ages it was believed to protect one form evil. The Native Americans used it for medicinal purposes. One will find different species of mugwort abroad.
The Discovery Museum Field Trip
For their last field trip of the season, the WildLife Guards took part in climbing and zip lining activities offered by The Adventure Park at The Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut. After an orientation on the safety use of the park's equipment, the high school students geared up and set out to explore the different courses the park's tree-top trails offered. The trails included bridges and platforms high up in trees. The students walked, climbed and zip lined through the bridges and different challenge levels to get from one platfrom to the next. This field trip was one of the most memorable trips of the 2015 season.
Osborne Homestead Museum and Kellogg Environmental Center Field Trip
The WLG had the honor of visiting the homestead museum and center, located in Derby, Connecticut were they toured the former home of Frances Osborne Kellogg and the surrounding landscape of one of the state's fourteen historic gardens. They also toured the current exhibits at Kellog Center which offers many educational activities.
A bit of history: Born in 1876, Frances Osborne was the daughter of Wilbur and Ellen Osorne. Frances followed her father's footsteps into the world of business at the age of 31. She inherited her parents' dairy farm after her father's death in 1907 and married Waldo S. Kellogg in 1919, a New York architect. Over her lifetime, Frances associated with many companies where she served as president, treasurer, director and had part in founding the Steels and Busks, Ltd. of Leicester. She was the proprietor of Osbornedale and Bassett Farm, and became the first woman memeber of board of directors of the Birmingham National Bank. Frances deeded her 350 acre Estate to the State of Connecticut in the 1950's before her death in 1956. The land is now a state park and the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bent of the River Audubon Connecticut Field Trip
Bird Banding was an informational environment that allowed the younger students to learn how they are able to tell the difference between birds and the gender in a way that interested them all. They also learned about bird banding, while the professionals extracted birds from mist nets and banded them at their work station, all the students were able to see the process in action. Bird banding is a way that allows people to learn more about a certain bird and where they migrate from, because they can also get banded in other parts of the world. This makes it easier to know what type of birds live in what areas and what exactly they need in order to survive in a place. The kids got a chance to see how birds are banded, in addition, they were even able to help release the birds to fly away.
The WildLife Guards taught the school age children about american oystercatchers, piping plovers, least and common terns that are seen at Pleasure Beach and throughout our state. The Guards had an activity that allowed the students to make piping plovers using marshmallows, pretzel sticks, chocolate, and fudge. While making the little birds, the kids learned more about why birds are important.
Afterwards, the Guards went on a trail walk and identified different birds and plants. They identified the calls of the Pileated Woodpecker that sounds like baby begging, and House Wren that sounds like a lively jumble of notes. They spotted an Indigo bunting, a bright light blue bird with the call sounding like a lively song of sharp, clear, high-pitched notes that lasts about 2 seconds. The guards ended their trip by learning about different sections of the forest; the mid-forest, understory, and forest floor.
Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk Field Trip
The WildLife Guards visited the South Norwalk Connecticut, Maritime Aquarium on July 30th. Wildlife takes on Marine life! When arriving at the aquarium they were given instructions to divide into groups of three. They were told they will be receiving a text message to venture out on their great scavenger hunt. The guards were sent riddles and rhymes from their fellow instructors Alivia and Emily, giving them hints of particular marine animal around the aquarium to find. The guards then had to respond by taking photographs of what they thought to be correct and text back their instructors.
Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, CT
Common Ground and Peabody Museum Field Trip
The ten Bridgeport high school students visited Common Ground High School in West Haven, CT where they met with students and learned about the student's mission to create healthy living and sustainable environmental practices. It was a fun and connecting experience to communicate and see that there are other people their age doing things to better their community just like them! When they first got there, everyone was very welcoming. They played an ice breaker where they got to know a little bit about each other before they started their day. What’s a better way to start of a hard day’s work with people you’ve never met. They showed us their huge and healthy garden where they harvest their fruits and vegetables which they sell at their own farmers market; the WLG even got the opportunity to taste their blueberries! Afterwards, they brought the WLG to their farm where they showed them their goats, sheep, pigs, turkeys, and chickens. The animals are raised naturally and with love and care, and their meat is sold at a farmer's market. This farmer's market is a community favorite due to the fact that the animals are raised free of chemicals and pesticides. Overall, Common Ground gave the WLG an amazing and educational experience and they would love to visit again!
Stratford Point Field Trip
The WildLife Guards visited Stratford Point on located in Stratford, Connecticut on July 16th. Stratford Point is a peninsula near the mouth of Housatonic River, adjacent to Short Beach Park. The site is a supportive resource for migratory birds and a variety of butterflies. The students work activities consisted of removing young Autumn Olive, an invasive plant. Following invasive plant removal, they replaced it with native plants such as Ink Berry, Bayberry, Beach Plum, and others. While working they were educated on how beneficial the plants are to birds and butterflies. Upon completing plant removal they were taken on a walk occupied by a Roger Tory Peterson Institute employee, Scott. They observed the shore and the birds. Some of the birds stopped over for a break while migrating. Birds present along the shore during the students' walk were Snowy Egrets, Semipalmated sandpipers, Least Terns, Semipalmated plovers, and juvenile Herring gulls.
Sandy Point Field Trip
For their first field trip on July 6th, the 2015 WildLife Guards visited Sandy Point Bird Sanctuary located in West Haven, Connecticut. Sandy Point is a barrier beach that was unfortunately impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The community is currently in the process of restoring the area and its coastal habitat. The guards incorporated their skills from Pleasure Beach to help Sandy Point get back on its feet. They did their own beach cleanup, picking up tons of trash that found its way to the beach. Although the amount of trash was overwhelming, they knew that they were making a difference to the beach itself as well as the birds nesting there. The trash attracted predators to Sandy Point and enhanced pollution, which disturbed the health of the birds, and safety of Sandy Point. Being one of the most significant nesting locations in Connecticut, Sandy Point provides a home for federally threatened shorebirds such as the Piping Plover, Least Tern, and Common Tern. On their trip the WLG saw 3 plover adults, 2 plover fledglings, 2 oystercatchers, many semipalmated sandpipers and barn swallows. They were taken back at the sight of two least terns doing their fish dance mating ritual!
Invasive species are non-native species that expand along an area because they don't have any competition to take them away. These species are a potential threat to Sandy Point. The guards helped Sandy Point's appearance by pulling the invasive plants out to make room for endangered native plants. The main invasive species at Sandy Point are mugwort and clovers. This was a good experience for the Wildlife Guards to continue to save wildlife by making the environment a better place.
Kayak Field Trip
Aug. 7th, 2014
'My favorite field trip I had while I was in this program has to be the time we went to the Norwalk Islands on a kayak field trip. It was so fun because I believe it was a new experience for my team members and I. We also had tons of fun. It was just a great time over all.' -Brandon Hilario
New Canaan Nature Center Field Trip
July 31st, 2014
'During our time spent at the New Canaan Nature Center I learned a substantial amount of facts about vernal pools and forest ecosystems. I learned that vernal pools are an ideal habitat for amphibians to breed. They also serve as a food source for birds and allow them to bathe and rest. While there I also took the opportunity to physically explore a pond habitat and examine some of the wildlife that lives there. For example, one of my peers caught a snapping turtle while some others and I caught frogs and tadpoles.' –Malcolm Winston
Earthplace Discovery Center Field Trip
July 24th, 2014
The field trip to Earthplace in Westport was a great and valuable learning experience for not only me, but for all of the Bridgeport Wildlife Guards. In the lab with Harborwatch, we got the opportunity to watch the process of how their organization checks water samples and how significant it is to actually test and sample the water. It is their job to build information and apply it to their data. Being in the actual lab was an experience to remember.-Keshaun Clark
West River Nature center
July 17th, 2014
Going to West River Nature Center was a great learning experience for me. Corrie showed us how she surveys the insects at the center. It was pretty cool. We took a net and skimmed the grassy areas and transported the insects from the net to a plastic bag. It was so cool; We caught so many. –Nathalie Vincent
Milford Point Field Trip
July 10th, 2014
This week, the Bridgeport Wildlife Guards went to Milford Point. We were to the top of a tower and got to look across the beautiful wetlands. We had binoculars and spotted ospreys and other birds. Inside there was a lot of information about the birds and what they feed on. There were also other animals such as bearded dragons, snakes and a catfish. It was fun watching the children racing hermit crabs and the amount of hermit crabs that were collected from the wetlands. Overall it was definitely a learning experience. . -Elaine Chevalier
Adventure's with Audubon
August 1st, 2013
Hello, my name is Jamiya Williams and I am a Bridgeport WildLife Guard. On Tuesday, we hiked to Pleasure Beach and saw a variety of shorebirds including the Piping Plover, Least and Common Tern, and the Osprey. On Wednesday, Corrie and Mike Aurelia visited us and we walked to Long Beach West and helped Mike with the International Shorebird Survey. We saw a majority of the Spotted Sandpiper and saw a Black Bellied Plover. After the hike to Long Beach West, Corrie introduced us to seine netting which was very fun. We saw fishes, crabs, and sea horse-like creatures. We basically experienced fishing with Corrie. On Thursday, We went to Bent of the River in Southbery, CT. With the help of Corrie and a few friends, we banded birds and let them free. Some of the birds we banded were the Northern Cardinal, Red-Breasted Grosbeak, Song Sparrow, Hooded Warbler, and the Yellow Warbler. After the banding, we taught some of the campers about the Piping Plover with a tasty snack! They made a baby plover out of marshmallows, pretzels, chocolate frosting, and brown sugar. The kids enjoyed the lesson and had fun doing it.
July 26th, 2013
Hi my name is Alfred Green and I’m part of the Bridgeport WildLife Guards. On the first 2 days of this week we hiked through Long Beach to Pleasure Beach. On the First day we saw a Common Tern at Jetty 3 and a lot of Piping Plovers. The next day we had seen a bunch or Least Tern and about 10 Piping Plover. Yesterday we visited the State Capital of Connecticut in Hartford. At the end of our tour around the building, we all had a chance to sit in the Wishing Chair made from the Charter Oak after it was struck by lighting. Today we’re at The University of Fairfield and getting ready to go to Sacred Heart. College visits have been very helpful in decided our path of the future. Many of us are also interested in gap years!
July 13th, 2013
Hi, my name is Sebastien and I’m one of the 8 Bridgeport WildLife Guards. On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to visit Hammonasset Beach State Park! While we were there, we saw many Osprey nests and we got the chance to learn about Purple Martins, this was all our first time seeing them and we all thought this was cool. On that day we also went to the Meigs Nature Center in Hammonasset and we learned about the Black Rat snake and got to feel the skin of the snake, Imanie and Bit were both scared of snakes, but they both looked past their fear and touched it! When we went inside the nature center, Alfred and Justin picked up the lobsters. Dennis, from Audubon, walked us down to the Cedar Island Trail and we all saw a common tern for the first time, which is one of the species of concern.
On Wednesday, we walked to Pleasure Beach, it was an exhausting hike, but it was worth it! We didn’t see many Piping Plovers on the way because of the weather, there was a storm coming so we figured they wanted to stay in their nests.
For the rest of week, we went to Whole Foods, Maritime Aquarium, visited UB and we monitored the water at Long Beach. We did Scavenger Hunts at both Whole Foods and the Maritime Aquarium. In the scavenger hunt at Whole Foods, we learned and saw some organic food and the different places they came from and we learned how to put together a healthy meal. In the scavenger hunt at the Maritime Aquarium, it helped us learn more about the different sea creatures and how they live and acknowledged some people and their part in the sea life. In the end, the scavenger hunts helped us work as a team which will come in handy being. On Friday, we visited UB and toured around the campus and gave us all a good look on how living on a campus would be and what are the requirements to get into UB! Finally, at the end of our busy yet educational week, on Saturday, we went to Long Beach and some of us monitored water for the first time which was really cool to see the different ways you can test water conditions!
Bridgeport Wildlife Guards
Summer Crew 2013
July 8th, 2013
And it all begins!
This week marks the start to an exciting and productive summer for 8 high school students in the Bridgeport Area. The students will be assisted by two SCA crew leaders (Erica and Bit). They will have an unique opportunity to explore, monitor, and research the Long Beach, Stratford and Pleasure Beach, Bridgeport area.
If you were to visit Long Beach on a Saturday afternoon, you’d encounter 4 WildLife Guard’s manning a table filled with information on the Piping Plover and Least Terns or you might be approached by 4 others bearing knowledge you can share with those closest.
The Piping Plover are two beach nesting birds in the area that are federal threaten. The WLG’s will be monitoring the birds for research and protection.
The WLG will also hike out to Pleasure Beach once a week to monitor the threatened wildlife and plant species on the beach. Pleasure Beach is an amazing area where people vacationed and visiting during the 1930’s. Unfortunately, the beach suffered several tragic incidents, forcing the town to close it to the public in the 1990’s. HOWEVER, plans are in the works to restore the beach to a nature center. To learn more visit:
Before all this can be done, we strive for the human impact to be limited on the new and threaten wildlife that currently occupies the area. Introduce: the Bridgeport WLG (Amani, Imani, Jamiya, Nathalie, Alferd, Justin, Sebestain, Kescheun).
They will be blogging throughout the summer on their experiences, research and lessons with the SCA and Audubon.
Erica and I have some FUN Environmental Education days planned to visit prominent people and areas to prepare the WLG’s for the future. We already had the opportunity to visit the Salt Meadow Bird Sanctuary in Westbrook, CT. Fish and Wildlife prepared us for our summer monitoring and we hiked along the trails birding. Corrie from Audubon has been wonderful in helping coordinating and assisting both the WLG’s and crew leaders! It should make for a thrilling summer on LB/PB
Please stay tuned to hear from our smart, wonderful, and insightful WLG’s!
Earth Day Event
May 4th, 2013
The Bridgeport WildLife Guards had an Earth day event they cleaned up the conservation pond at Beardsley park. It was a GREAT success; they were able to clear out many invasive plants such as bittersweet, Japanese knotweed, and multifloral rose. 6 people came including the Mayor of Bridgeport, who was willing to help out and pull out invasive plants. The Guards worked at the pond for four hours. They were able to hold a raffle at the event too.
ROCK TO ROCK EVENT
April 20th, 2013
The Bridgeport WildLife Guards participated in the Rock to Rock event in New Haven. WE rode in the bicycle ride which raised money for environmental organizations in New Haven. We rode for 8 miles from West Rock to East Rock with stops in between. We rode as part of Team SCA and we raised $1,185!! We were lucky to have borrowed bikes from the New Haven Parks Department.
The experience was surreal for us as well as different than what we're used to! We met new people, tried new things, and had a great time. We appreciate all that was done for us and cant wait to do it all again next year!