As I have said in the past, my family likes to spend time at Silverwood Park. Dash has enjoyed the Doodlebugs preschool program and we all like to play in the woods and water or walk on the trails. However, the park offers so many programs for adults and children to enjoy. Separately or together. One of the experiences you can enjoy together is called Walk With A Naturalist.
And I’ll give you one guess what you get to do during this event.
That’s right! You get to walk with a naturalist.
Disclaimer: This post was written in April of 2013, when there was still a lot of snow on the ground and even more to fall from the sky. So keep that in mind. But this event is offered regularly throughout the year and often paired with a puppet show for kids. See our calendar for dates.
You may be wondering what a naturalist is. Merriam-Webster states that a naturalist is a student of natural history; especially: a field biologist. This is the second definition. The first definition is all about naturalism and goes into spirituality. And while, that may be the case, I assure you that walking with a Naturalist in Silverwood Park is about nature: the birds, the trees, the animals, etc.
Walk With A Naturalist happens on select Sundays following a 1:00 puppet show. We hurried home from church, gobbled down some lunch, and piled back into the car rushing to Silverwood where we met David the naturalist (Ned is currently the Silverwood Naturalist) and two other ladies for our walk around the park. Unfortunately, even though it was late April, we were still covered in snow and trying to be happy about it.
Silverwood has many different ecosystems in the small park: it has the woods, a lake with non-groomed lakeshore and an island, marshy wetlands, and a prairie. With all these ecosystems, there is a plethora to look at even on a cold snowy spring day.
On our simple walk, we walked out to the island and enjoyed some Canada geese and a duck or two. While we were there, we were able to see these tracks.
After we explored the island for a little bit, we made our way to the wetlands area. Personally, I grew up in a house that overlooked a huge slough. I do not find this habitat very beautiful. However, I was able to see it with new eyes on our walk. Bits of beauty were spotted sitting on the stalks of the cattails in red-winged blackbirds. We saw birds of prey and enjoyed conversation centered on other wildlife in the area.
We talked about the Owl’s nest that was abandoned this spring. We are hoping that the owl will be back next year, but this year, the eggs weren’t hatching and the owls left. It’s amazing how perceptive the animals are.
Walk with A Naturalist at Silverwood Park is a wonderful event because you are enjoying the outdoors and walking with the hopes of finding life. It’s easier to do that in the warmer months, but it always gives me hope in the winter to see signs of life! Also, the walk is not intense. It’s an easy walk, and with no particular direction, you get to amble through the park and point out things you see. It is led by the Naturalist, but really everyone has equal opportunity to point out different things.
- The naturalists are fun to walk with. If David isn’t leading the walk, his counterpart, Karen, takes over. He assures us that she is great.
- No one shushed my kids. No one was worried that the kids would scare away an animal. They just enjoyed the experiences WITH them.
- It was fun to get to know the other walkers. They had a lot of knowledge about the wildlife and birdlife around the Twin Cities and had many stories to share. Some just from their backyard.
- Weather plays a big factor. Walk with a Naturalist can’t happen when it’s lightening out or when there are high winds. The temperature is a big deal, too, for how comfortable you will be. But we are tough Minnesotans and we know how to dress for the weather. So dress in layers in the winter and put a hat on in the summer and you should be good!
Silverwood Park’s programs are just part of the wealth of environmental experience you receive from the Three Rivers Park District. Located in St. Anthony Village, it is fairly close to both downtowns and the first ring of suburbs. It’s a gem!