Tuesday, April 04, 2006

My first Spring weekend

I had a pretty nature packed weekend. As I said in my last post, I've been listening to a lecture series on bird language. To learn it I'm supposed to find a sit area to visit as often as possible. This means once a day if I can manage. After work Friday I stopped by Broad Ripple park on my way home. It is a five minute drive from my house. Most of the park is open field where people play sports. On the northern edge there is a stream that feeds into the White River which comprises the park's western border.

The lecturer said a good sit area should have some or all of these characteristics:
  • Convenient - If it's not convenient, I won't go very often.
  • Close to water - Water attracts animals
  • In a transistion area - This is an area on the edge of a forest. Animals like to have cover so they avoid open fields and forests where there is no ground cover.
  • A place with a view - If I want to see animals I can't be sitting in a thicket especially when the plants start to grow leaves.
I knew that the stream area could satisfy all these criteria. It has a transition area on both sides of it. On the park side it is next to a path that people frequent with their dogs so I expect that I'll be able to learn a lot about how birds react to people and dogs. On the other side there is more open field and then houses.

As I looked around the stream I started looking for candidate sit areas. One big advantage of this stream is that it is about 10 ft. lower than the rest of the park. There is a steep slope that is perfect for sitting on to get a higher view point of the area. I looked for awhile for different spots. Finally, I walked to a spot and as I reentered the thicket, a robin flew up and landed on a branch about 6 ft. from me as if to welcome me. I looked across the river and saw three squirrels playing. This was my sign that I'd found the right sport. As I walked down the slope to have a look, I found out how perfect it was. It was the only spot I found where my view was completely unobstructed. I could see all the way to the river. I was also at the bend of the stream where I'm hoping some animals will visit.

There was only one problem with the place. There was trash everywhere. I thought there was no way I was going to be able to enjoy this spot if I was looking at bottles and cans. I decided that before I could even begin learning, I needed to clean the place up. That would have to wait till Sunday.

This is a picture of one area that is pretty bad. There's even a pilon in the stream!

Saturday I drove to Bloomington for a tracking club meeting. There were only three of us since it was an extra meeting on short notice. They usually meet every other Sunday. We met at a nature preserve on the north side. We spent three hours identifying birds, trees and animal tracks and sign. It was cool to id some trees without relying on leaves. We found one small two square foot patch of mud next to a stream that had three different species of mammal tracks in it.

See if you can find the three species of animal tracks in this photo. The fake bird tracks do not count. Post a reply with your answers.

Sunday I went to Lowe's and bought one of those tools for picking up litter so I wouldn't have to bend down. I drove to the park and began picking up trash. I thought it would only take a couple hours to clean the whole place up. I greatly underestimated how much trash there was. At times I could literally stand in one spot and spend five minutes picking up trash within reach. It became clear as I continued that no one had ever cleaned the place up before. I found pepsi and beer cans that were so old they had the pull off tabs to open them. The mouth of the can looked like a tear drop not like the wide mouth cans we're used to. These have to be more than 20 years old. There were a lot of other interesting items I picked up: 3 different sandals, a cell phone, and a lego to name a few. The cell phone had scotch tape holding in the battery so I'm guessing this person finally dropped their cell phone for the last time or got so pissed with it that they threw it into the woods.

Last August I took a week long class on caretaking and have been meaning to find a place to caretake. While I was at the park I decided that this stream would also be my caretaking project. I spent part of my time doing some other general caretaking. I made a small stick pile from dead branches. Most of the branches had fallen on living plants and all were found within 30 feet of the pile. So I was able to help other plants by removing heavy branches, clear a blocked trail and hopefully build a home for a small animal. In the end, I filled two garbage bags with enough trash that I could barely carry them. I think I cleaned up about 30% of the place. I have more work to do.

As if I hadn't done enough over the weekend, I finished Sunday off by completing my first obsidian arrow point. I also practiced the hand drill. I still haven't gotten a coal, but I'm close. I also got my first bow drill coal with the new firebow I made as seen in this previous post.

My first obsidian point


Kara said...

I love that you have decided to clean up an area of the park. If you'd like, I would be happy to help you clean up the rest this weekend.

As far as the animal tracks - I will first need to understand what "fake bird tracks" look like. I thought I saw 3 sets of tracks, but if I am counting these so-callled "fake" tracks, I will have to check again.

I look forward to reading more about your animal observation area and the projects you are working on this Spring.

kara said...

By the way, I had to read previous blogs to figure out what an obsidian point was. Very nice work!!!

Bleach n Sheets said...

I couldn't see any tracks. Maybe you could circle them with photoshop or something. Please return my cell phone to me ASAP.

Let me know what you discover out there.

Sassmouth said...

Thanks for your comments. I'll post an updated picture circling the tracks and identifying them after I give people some time to guess. It might have been easier if I didn't have to shrink the picture to get it on the blog.

I spent my first morning at the park today. I got there as the sun was rising. It was still dark. The birds were already active. Some cardinals hung out about 6 feet above my head for awhile. I saw a rabbit drinking in the river. I'm hoping more mammals come by sometime.

fooiemcgoo said...

cool. nice post. lots of good stuff. keep us posted on your progress.

fox-top left
squirrel-bottom left
bird-bottomish rightish. (i think i mgiht see something there)

fooiemcgoo said...

revised guess.

the top track is a fox.

the botttom tracks is 2 squirrels going opposite directions. (or possibly the same squirrel)

Pinger said...

Nice caretaking.

So where's the profile pic of that point? Let's see how thin you got it.