by Area Forester Lisa Deaton
For many of us who work in the natural resources arena, it is a joy to see school buses arrive for an outdoor field trip.
Throughout the state, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) staff partner with many school divisions and local, state and federal natural resource agencies to provide elements of meaningful watershed educational experiences, also called MWEEs, for students.
It is especially nice when schools are brave enough to chance a little bit of rain, as opposed to cancelling a field trip. Sometimes overcast weather can provide better opportunities for viewing wildlife in action.
During a bit of early cold weather, Gloucester County students encountered a few frogs along a nature trail, and we watched them hop away. However, when we came across an American Bullfrog close to the water’s edge, it refused to budge. I don’t know if the frog was too cold to move or if it decided that staying frozen in place and camouflaged was the best strategy – or a combination of both. It was facing a line of 25 large predators, and all eyes were on the frog. When I touched the bullfrog’s back with a fern, it surprised us by staying put and puffing its body up to be as large as it could.
When I returned to the same spot on the trail about 10 minutes later, the bullfrog had moved a few feet closer to the lake and seemed to be pressing its body against the warmer earth under the leaf litter.
This bullfrog may have been caught out in the cold, but wintertime can be a great time for people to get out and explore the outdoors. Just be sure to check the latest weather forecast and wear blaze orange during hunting season. My family recently found winter hiding in the mountains (below).
Make the winter season more exciting by visiting a forest near you!