2018-02-21 / Front Page

Hello from the DePauw Nature Park!

Henry, or Super Dog as he is also called, is the DePauw Nature Park mascot. (Courtesy Photo) Henry, or Super Dog as he is also called, is the DePauw Nature Park mascot. (Courtesy Photo) We are counting the days until spring officially arrives. Most of the snow and ice in the park have melted. The ten miles of trails are a bit wet and soggy, but are still in pretty good shape because they are lined with gravel. As weather permits, we will add more gravel to the trails.

The trees are still dormant. Beech trees are one of the few trees that retain their leaves year-round. Most of the other trees do not have any leaves.

We have been learning how to identify trees in their winter condition. We use all our senses to identify the trees - we look at the bark, we smell the tree, we touch the bark to see how soft it is, and we shake the tree to see if it rattles - except we do not taste the tree.

Our featured tree this week is the black cherry. This tree is easily recognizable in any season. Its bark is dark and flaky, and it looks like burnt potato chips.

The wildlife is starting to emerge from hibernation. We have not seen snakes yet, but last week there was a skunk hiding under the dumpster. The first groundhog of the season was spotted on the trail yesterday. We also heard a red-winged blackbird, which is one of the first birds to return from its winter migration.

Henry, a West Highland white terrier, is the nature park mascot. Nicknamed the Super Dog, he will happily greet you along the trails. He spends time in the lab, tracking down scent trails, climbing fallen trees, and getting sticker seeds pulled from his coat.

The park is open every day. The winter hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can contact the DePauw Nature Park office by calling 765-658-1076 for more information.

(by Vanessa Fox, Nature Park Ecologist and Part-time professor of University Studies at DePauw)

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