Week 7: Earth Day at Debs Park
Natasha Kerr, the program and outreach coordinator of Environment for the Americas, and I had the opportunity to lead the CARECEN group (mentioned in a previous blog) at the Audubon Center at Debs park for an Earth Day event. Before we go to the park, I had a powerpoint presentation of possible birds we would see and played their call. “Oh, yes I’ve heard that bird before”, one parent said after I played the Northern Mockingbird. I, then, had the kids act out a California Towhee. I had them stand up and jump back and forth- this is how towhees forage for food in the dirt or leaf litter. I told them to keep their eyes out for that behavior and call out it out when we’re in our nature walk.
The Audubon Center at Debs Park which is by Northeast Los Angeles and Highland Park is a special place to me. I was fortunate enough to intern there two summers ago at their Summer Day Camp. This outdoor camp had five themed weeks including critters, plants, birds, and community and the environment. Therefore, I was familiar with common birds of the area. I had Northern Mockingbird, Spotted and California Towhee, Red-tail Hawk, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Anna’s hummingbird, among other common birds in the PowerPoint. After the presentation we headed out to Debs Park.
As we drove up the hill to the parking lot one parent asked me, “How much is the entrance fee?”. I told them there is no entrance or parking fee at the park and that is open Tuesday through Saturday. They were surprised at this and at the fact how close this natural area was to their home. As we arrived, we all met up where I passed binoculars and a pocket field guide to everyone in preparation for our nature walk. Before we headed out, two Arroyo Green Team members from Debs Park showed the kids the parks’ pets Fluffy and Rex- a Pacific gopher snake and a California kingsnake. The brave kids touched the snakes and learned cool facts about them.
The day was getting warmer so we began to walk the”Butterfly Loop” before it got too hot. We stopped every now and then to stop, listen, and watch for birds. We came across Northern Mockingbirds, California Towhees, and hummingbirds. We stopped at an area half-way through the hike to rest and where I lead a listening activity. I had everyone close their eyes and put both hands forward into a fist. In thirty seconds of silence, they were to raise a finger to every sound they hear whether it was footsteps, the wind brushing the leaves, birds, etc. People shared what they heard and we walked back to the event. The parents and kids had the chance to check out the tables at this event, had lunch, and then we debriefed.
While we debriefed, we met up with John Rowden, the program director for Toyota TogetherGreen. Parents and a couple of children shared their thoughts and heart-warming words of gratitude towards our work in engaging them with nature. Many of them expressed how appreciative of a place like Debs Park and how it reminds them of their home in Central America such as El Salvador. One parent shared how kids these days are exposed to things they were as they were children and would love to keep their child connected. Their words were very inspiring and now we must continue with the project. The conservation fellowship that funded this trip is from Toyota TogetherGreen. The main goal of the fellowship is to involve people of all backgrounds in conservation science. The next step is to direct the CARECEN group in citizen science and become part of the conservation movement; this all begins and process from the initial connection or reconnection to the natural world.
IN OTHER NEWS….
I mentioned before that every time I conduct a survey along the Ballona Creek, I always experience something special each time. This week saw a Great Blue Heron fly up to a palm tree to guard it’s nest. I thought it was a bit bizarre as I never seen such a large bird fly so high before. As I gazed upon the heron in his/her nest I looked to my right and thought I saw a cormorant perched on a tree. I usually see cormorants along the water or perched on cliffs so I thought it was a little bizarre to see it that as well. However, as I approached closer to the tree, I saw that it was not a cormorant but a majestic Osprey!!!! I’ve never see an Osprey so close! It was perched on a tree right along the Ballona Creek Bike Path where hundreds of people pass through and was about 13-15 meters above everyone’s head. I wondered if this is the same Osprey I see all the time. I’ve counted ONE Osprey a couple times in my surveys. Is this the friendly neighborhood spiderma- I mean, Osprey? I wonder whether it is nesting and if it is, where is the other pair? These are questions that I’d like to solve by the end of my internship! Until then- stay tuned for Osprey updates! 🙂