Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Adventures to Come

Another blog entry by our Outdoor Education Intern, Hannah George, about the many winter activities available across Ohio.  Enjoy!

                Well, it is officially the first day of winter and, since the world hasn’t come to an end, it is time to start thinking about what fun things you can do now that the weather has turned a bit cooler. While the normal happenings of winter consist of mostly indoor activities, there are still many opportunities to enjoy nature and all it has to offer.


Bobcat


One of my favorite things to do during the winter is to go for a hike at one of Ohio’s many wonderful state parks. There are so many great things to see during the winter, especially when there is snow on the ground. Animal tracks are much easier to spot, as is wildlife in general… well, the ones that aren’t hibernating anyway. I  think the snow-covered trees and shrubs are some of the prettiest sights to see, and they photograph very well. Waterfalls, which are great places to visit during the summer months, can also be amazing destinations during the winter. Some will even freeze solid, which is an impressive sight! Just make sure you dress for the weather with plenty of layers and wear a warm coat, hat, boots and gloves. You can always take off layers if you get too warm.

Northern cardinal
 
If wildlife is what you’re interested in, I would suggest visiting a park with a water source, like a lake or large river, that is not frozen over. These locations are magnets for birds, including waterfowl, as well as mammals. During the winter, water is often harder to find then food, especially for birds. (This is also a helpful hint for attracting birds to your own backyard during the winter. Try a heated bird bath this year and see the difference it makes.)
            If you are looking for some fun, free events for your kids, I would strongly suggest the Kids Christmas Bird Count on January 12th at Magee Marsh in Northwest Ohio. This is a great opportunity for kids aged 8-12 to get outside and look for birds with an experienced birder. A lunch is provided, but make sure you pre-register.

           Another fun activity just for kids is the Kids in the Snow event at the Great Blue Heron Lodge in Northeast Ohio on January 13th. This is a free event for kids where they will build Wood duck nest boxes to be placed in the preserved wetland areas. After building the nest boxes, the kids go on a hike to learn how to track different animals in the woods. Cookies and hot chocolate will be provided at the end to wrap up a very fun day.

          For additional information about the above listed events and for a full list of outdoor-related events, visit the ODNR Division of Wildlife web page and click on the “Calendar of Events” link at the bottom of the page.  To see a list of additional events at specific parks in Ohio, visit the ODNR Parks web page and click on the “What’s Going On” link on the right-hand side of the page.         

         Hopefully you have a few fun ideas for outdoor winter activities this year and, if you don’t find something that interests you here, there are plenty of other activities to be found on either the Parks or Wildlife web pages. Lastly, I just want to wish you all safe, Happy Holidays this year! Have a great time with family and friends and enjoy the beautiful outdoors!

Best Wishes!
Hannah

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