What a day for Nature Fest! A radiant blue sky, crisp cool air, warm bright sun, and a fascinating variety of presenters added to the pleasures hundreds of folks enjoyed today, at this annual festival put on by Moreau Lake State Park.
We couldn't have had a more wonderful day for strolling the sandy beach of the lake, where the trees were just starting to don their autumn colors. This exhibit presenting aspects of Native American culture was just one of the many attractions arrayed along the shore, featuring demonstrations of interest to festival-goers of all ages.
I was particularly drawn to the exhibits featuring wild raptors like this little Screech Owl and the much bigger Snowy Owl perched in the background. All of these birds of prey, including several hawks and other owls, had been injured in ways that prohibited their return to the wild, so now they serve to help educate the public about these fascinating creatures.
Nature educator Beth Bidwell is also known for her work with birds of prey like hawks and owls, but this year she returned to Nature Fest with her personal crow friend Mojo -- again, a bird whose former injuries prevent it from surviving in the wild. With Mojo resting on Beth's arm and often interjecting comments of "I know" to Beth's commentary, Beth regaled an attentive crowd with tales that demonstrated the amazing intelligence and amusing personality traits of the American Crow.
One of the presentations that attracted the largest crowds was this one put on by an educator from Up Yonda Farm, a nature education center in Bolton Landing. After listening to a fascinating account of the life cycle of the beautiful Monarch Butterfly, we were able to witness the tagging of several butterflies as they were released to begin their annual fall migration all the way to Mexico.
This presenter from Paul Smith's College in the Adirondacks brought along an intriguing model that demonstrated how harmful runoff into a watershed occurs. Children were especially drawn to helping her sprinkle colored crystals representing lawn chemicals, crop pesticides, or road salt onto the model, then spraying water to imitate rainfall and watching the colored water make its way to the rivers and lakes.
These children were fascinated by the baby Black Rat Snake that Moreau Park's own Nature Educator Rebecca Mullins held out to show to the children.
Here's a closer view of that cute little snake.
Park carpenters constructed this spacious pen just for Rebecca to use at Nature Fest to display a variety of turtles. The one climbing the wall over there is a Wood Turtle, while a Box Turtle ambles along the side, and a Painted Turtle rests atop a log.
A couple of baby Snapping Turtles were scrambling around a nearby aquarium, demonstrating their eagerness to be released into the lake, which Rebecca will do very soon as the park's Nature Center closes down for the winter.
Park Naturalist Gary Hill once again demonstrated his fish-cleaning skills as he cleaned native species of fish, some taken directly from Moreau Lake. Gary's wife Jean occupied an adjoining table, where she dusted the cleaned fish with cornmeal, fried them up, and served them to folks waiting hungrily for their portions.
More hungry patrons kept Park Manager Peter Iskenderian busy at the grill, where he served up hot dogs and hamburgs throughout the day. There was lots of other good food available, too: chili, macaroni and cheese, baked goods of a delectable variety and more, all donated to this annual festival by Friends of Moreau Lake State Park. I happen to be one of those Friends (I donated a big pot of chili), and I couldn't be happier to do what I can to promote this beautiful state park, which provides me with my own personal Nature Fest every single day of the year, and all year long.
This beautifully marked Cicada was not part of one of the formal presentations, but just dropped by, perhaps just to see what was going on. I was happy to see it, for I couldn't recall hearing the Cicada's high trill all summer long and had wondered if they were around this year. Yup, I guess they are!