The Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program Students just returned from their first week-long adventure in the Oregon Dunes!
This trip is an exciting and excellent introduction into wildlife tracking and naturalist studies for the year-long students. Stretching over 50 miles long, the Oregon Dunes are an incredible wildlife hot spot that include forest mazes, wetlands and HUGE dune systems that can sometimes seem other worldly. The meeting of a variety of habitat types makes it very diverse, and the presence of sand makes tracking rich and exciting.
Here students Brandon, Jonny and Chris get down to the serious business of track identification and study. The story told by these little hopping tracks was a truly epic journey by a tiny treefrog across one of the biggest dunes in the whole area. It traveled at least a quarter mile across the open sand to reach a new area. What motivated it to move so far?
Here student Matt shows off one of the mystery plants found along a fresh water wetland edge. After some careful study, he figured out the identity of this lovely little yellow flower: brass buttons (Cotula coronopifolia). A fitting name for this petal-less, golden button of a flower. Its other name, "mud-disk" is also descriptive of its habitat preferences.
Though the students were down to some serious naturalist studies, in such an epic natural setting it is impossible to not connect to the passions of a child.
Overall, an incredible week of beautiful weather, great tracking and amazing animal encounters!