We spent Friday afternoon in Pinson, Alabama at the amazing Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. Beautiful flora, beautiful people. The Turkey Creek Nature Preserve Manager Charles Yeager made us feel welcome immediately. From the moment we signed the registration form and the Eldest pilfered a yellow notebook, the learning and exploring began.
The Eldest and Erin perch on a rock to wait for fish.
A little history: Turkey Creek Nature Preserve was established through a partnership between Alabama's Forever Wild Program and the Freshwater Land Trust and is co-managed by the Southern Environmental Center (SEC). In late 2008, an agreement was reached with the SEC to setup an environmental education center at the entrance to the preserve.
Spotted dusky salamander
We were impressed by the young, homeschooled herpetologists who found secrets in rock shadows and introduced us to novel forms of amphibian life. The spotted dusky salamander changed colors before our eyes. He was fascinating because his tail was still ridged which the young herpetologist said was related to his unfinished metamorphosis. The salamander had not yet become an adult. We also learned that he was a hard catch because his lifestyle was nocturnal.
Red salamanders have to stay wet in order to survive. We refrained from touching their skin because lotion or perfumes or various chemicals are easily absorbed through their wet skin.
James Bond has nothing on the golden eyes of a red salamander.
Richard Louv, godfather of the Children and Nature Network, has pointed out the importance and value of physical interaction with various species. A sight alone does not forge a relationship-- it is the interaction with other forms of life that nourishes reverence and respect.
The green anole has the amazing capacity to drop its tail in self-defense. Prophet had many questions about this capability so it's on my list of things to learn more about.
Along the rock outcroppings, Zac also pointed out various flowers.
We learned to identify the Sweet meadow beauty by its fine pink lines....
and the Blue phlox by the particular shape of petals which do not spiral.
The Eldest jotted down common names for the life forms he encountered. Part of his assignment involved taking notes and creating a species count/list when we arrived back in Tuscaloosa using only his notes as scaffold. By the time I woke up this morning, he had finished the document below and was very excited to share it with me.
The Eldest used Google Docs to create his list. He's a stickler for fonts.
Amy looks over a shoulder at rue leaves.
Zac showed us how to distinguish rue anemone by its leaves. He also described false anemone.
The rue anemone flower and its glossy, limpid, duck-foot leaves with a small budding poison ivy plant in the front left quadrant.
This area was protected as a nature preserve. Bioblitzs help identify and educate stewards about the local ecological webs and possible threatened or endangered species.
Fragrant, intoxicating, toxic yellow jessamine blooming in the ecoscape.
Suebee and Pops drove all the way from Atlanta and agreed to meet us at the Bioblitz. I am grateful for the way in which they were 100% troopers-- not a whimper, not a single complaint. We left feeling encouraged, enlightened, excited and inspired-- the words of the stone statue stuck in head like dream shrapnel.
More resources to explore Turkey Creek and Pinson: