Events

February Tracking Club: Otter Find 'em

posted Jan 22, 2020, 11:18 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 22, 2020, 11:18 AM ]

Come join us for our next Tracking Excursion at Ft. Snelling State Park:

Sunday, February 16
9:00am - 1:00pm

We will gather at the Ft. Snelling State Park visitor center:

Ft. Snelling State Park
101 Snelling Lake Rd
West St Paul, MN 55111


North American River Otters are just plain fun to track. That they are also good indicator of the health of an aquatic ecosystem. Since 2009, the National Park Service has been conducting track and sign surveys along the Mississippi River to study our metro area otter populations. For the past couple of years, we have been sharing our sightings of otter track and sign with the National Park Service through our iNaturalist project, the Minnesota Metro Otter Survey. Come join us as we search the shores of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers for signs of these inquisitive aquatic members of the weasel family, and learn to distinguish their tracks and sign from those of other animals.

This is an all-weather event and we spend time off trail. Please bring appropriate footwear and dress for several hours outdoors in whatever weather we may have that day.

We will gather at 9:00 in the fireplace room in the Visitor Center. We will head out on the trail about 9:20 and return to the visitor center about noon for a brief mapping exercise and wrap-up session. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Jon's cell phone at 612-388-4700.

Note that you need a State Park pass to drive to the Visitor Center, but you can park for free at the Historic Fort Snelling visitor center. It is about a half-mile walk past the historic fort and down the hill to get to the State Park visitor center. The Historic Fort parking is located at 200 Tower Ave, St Paul, MN 55111

RSVPs are encouraged, but not required.

Click Here for Directions

Ft. Snelling Visitor Center


Trailing Practice at Cedar Creek: Sat, Feb 15

posted Jan 22, 2020, 11:16 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 22, 2020, 11:17 AM ]

This months trailing practice will be at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. Our plan is to look for carnivore trails to follow. As we know from our wildlife tracking surveys, Cedar Creek supports a diversity of carnivores including coyotes, foxes, fisher and, at least some of the time, a wolf. If snow conditions are favorable, we will follow fresh carnivore trails to get a sense of how the animal is using the landscape.

Saturday, February 15
9:00 am - 1:00 pm

We will meet in Lindeman Lab
Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve
2660 Fawn Lake Dr NE, Bethel, Minnesota 55005


Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve is a 5,400 acre experimental ecological reserve operated by the University of Minnesota. It is located about 35 miles north of Minneapolis and St. Paul, just east of Bethel. Laying at the boundary between prairie and forest, Cedar Creek is a mosaic of uplands dominated by oak savanna, prairie, hardwood forest, pine forests, and abandoned agricultural fields and of lowlands comprised of ash and cedar swamps, acid bogs, marshes, and sedge meadows.

This is an all-weather event and we spend time off trail, perhaps literally walking on thin ice. Please bring appropriate gear and dress for several hours outdoors in whatever weather we may have that day.

We will gather at 9:00 at Lindeman Lab do our welcomes and get organized before heading out on the trail. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Jon's cell at 612-388-4700. Please note that cell reception may be spotty and I will have my phone on silent once we are on a trail.

RSVPs are encouraged.

For a map & directions to Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, click here

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve




February Bird Languge Gathering

posted Jan 6, 2020, 11:26 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 6, 2020, 11:26 AM ]

Please join us for our next Bird Language Gathering 

Sunday, February 2     
9:00 - 1:00 

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
3815 American Blvd E
Bloomington, MN 55425

Registration for these gatherings is encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop by--and it would be great to know that you are coming!

Birds talk to each other. We can learn to understand it. And it's fun!

The first week of February marks mid-winter--the half-way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Chickadees and nuthatches are still moving about in their winter feeding flocks. The robins are still feeding high in the canopy. But owls are beginning to nest--and the songbirds will be keeping an eye on them. Come join us as we spread out on the slopes above the Minnesota river to eavesdrop on the birds and listen to what they are saying about this most unusual winter.

What should I bring?

Bring what you need to be comfortable sitting still, outside on the ground for an extended period of time—perhaps as long as an hour. You will also need something to take notes on. You do not need to have binoculars, but there is no harm in bringing a pair if you would like. Here are a few recommended and optional items to bring:

Recommended:

Note pad & pencil
Ground cloth, blanket or camp-chair
Warm clothing for sitting still outside

Optional:
Water bottle
Snack
Binoculars

Sign me up!

Registration is encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop in and join us—and it would be great to know you are coming! If you have any questions, or to register for the event:

For a map & directions click here

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge



Tracking Club: Winter Wonderland: Sun, Jan 19

posted Dec 20, 2019, 2:33 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 6, 2020, 11:16 AM ]

Come join us for our next Tracking Excursion at Ft. Snelling State Park as we explore inner tracking:

Sunday, January 19 
9:00am - 1:00pm

We will gather at the Ft. Snelling State Park visitor center:

Ft. Snelling State Park
101 Snelling Lake Rd
West St Paul, MN 55111

Winter is a magical time for tracking. The snow reveals the tracks and trails of animals across the landscape. Frozen waterways offer unobstructed travel. This is one of the best times of year to follow animals trails, getting a richer understanding of how they go about their lives. It is also a great time to study tail patterns and gaits. Come join us on the frosted landscape as we explore who is moving around in the forest and what they are up to when no one was watching.

This is an all-weather event and we spend time off trail. Please bring appropriate footwear and dress for several hours outdoors in whatever weather we may have that day. If you like, download the iNaturalist app onto your phone to collect pictures to share with our tracking community.

We will gather at 9:00 in the fireplace room in the Visitor Center and explore some approaches to inner tracking before heading out onto the landscape to look for tracks & sign.

Note that you need a State Park pass to drive to the Visitor Center, but you can park for free at the Historic Fort Snelling Visitor Center. It is about a half-mile walk past the historic fort and down the hill to get to the State Park Visitor Center. The Historic Fort parking is located at 200 Tower Ave, St Paul, MN 55111

RSVPs are encouraged, but not required.

Click Here for Directions

Ft. Snelling Visitor Center



January 12 Trailing Practice at Carlos Avery

posted Dec 20, 2019, 2:32 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 6, 2020, 11:19 AM ]

This months trailing practice will be at the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area. Our plan is to look for carnivore trails to follow. Carlos Avery supports a diversity of carnivores including coyotes, foxes, fisher and mink. The landscape includes large areas of wetland, which may offer long stretches of unbroken trails. If snow conditions are favorable, this will allow us to see how animals are using the landscape in great detail and follow animals for longer distances with confidence.

Sunday, January 12 (note the Sunday date)
9:00 am - 1:00 pm

We will meet at the McDonald's just off I-35 and E Viking Blvd


Carlos Avery State Wildlife Management Area is a 20-thousand acre wetland and forest preserve 30 miles north of the Twin Cities. Carlos Avery is near Cedar Creek, and offers similar habitat and diversity of species--but with no restrictions about where we can explore.

Carlos Avery has minimal facilities. There are no lavatories, benches or shelters in the area we will be tracking.

This is an all-weather event and we spend time off trail, perhaps literally walking on thin ice. Please bring appropriate gear and dress for several hours outdoors in whatever weather we may have that day.

We will gather at 9:00 at the McDonald's on E Viking Blvd to do our welcomes and get organized before heading out on the trail. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Jon's cell at 612-388-4700. Please note that cell reception may be spotty.

RSVPs are encouraged.

For a map & directions click here

Carlos Avery Rendezvous Site



Cedar Creek Winter Survey: Sat, Jan 11

posted Dec 4, 2019, 12:14 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Dec 18, 2019, 11:04 AM ]

It's time for the Winter Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey   

The Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey is a joint venture between the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project and the University of Minnesota's Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. It is a unique opportunity to improve your tracking skills, connect with nature, and help Cedar Creek scientists learn about the wildlife living on their property. You can read about our Fall Survey here.


Saturday, January 11

View on Google Calendar
Our Winter Survey will be an all day affair. We will head out in teams to survey snow-packed roads and trails for animal tracks, then come back in to share our discoveries with one another. Each team will be led by an experienced wildlife tracker, certified in Track & Sign identification. In past winter surveys, our teams have identified the tracks of about 20 species including southern flying squirrel, fisher, mink, red fox and grey wolf. Since then, many of our observations have been verified by the new trail cam network at Cedar Creek. With the bison enclosure vacant for the season, we have a broader range of places we can roam, and the opportunity to follow trails in the snow for longer distances. Who knows what we will find? Here is the schedule for the day:

9:00am    Gathering at Lindman Center
9:30am    Tracking teams leave for the field
~3:00pm  Return from the field for sharing, mapping and debriefing
4:30pm    Complete


Bring your own lunches and snacks. Weather permitting, some teams may eat lunch in the field, but it is more likely we will all have a late lunch after we return to the Lindman Center. Cedar Creek will provide coffee and snacks in the morning.


New to Tracking?

Trackers, naturalists and enthusiasts of all levels are welcome to take part in our surveys--and having some experience with track and sign interpretation is definitely helpful. If you are new to wildlife tracking and would like to learn a bit about it before joining us for a survey, join us for Tracking Club on December 15 at Ft. Snelling State Park. Get all the details here.


Registration

Registration is required. To register, email Jonathan Poppele <poppele@umn.edu> or use our contact form.

Use this link to add the event to a Google Calendar.


Want to Carpool?

We have a new tool to help coordinate carpooling. If you would like to share the trip to Cedar Creek, you can use our Group Carpool page to offer or request a ride.

Bring Your Questions

In recent surveys, our teams have identified the tracks of about 30 species including black bear, fisher, mink, red fox and grey wolf. We have been noting the behavior of deer, coyote and fox in relation to the shifting wolf population, and seeing some of our sightings verified by Cedar Creek's new network of trail cameras. And the more we learn about this landscape, the more questions arise. Some of the questions that came up after our fall survey include:

  • What is the status of the wolf who appears to be back on the property? Is this the second animal that we tracked last winter? If so, where has he been? Has he returned to Cedar Creek, just passing through, or has he simply expanded his range?
  • What are the behavior dynamics of the mesopredators on the property? During our summer survey, we did not see any sign of domestic cat, skunk or opossum, and only a single raccoon track. On our fall survey, tracking teams recorded the tracks and sign of all of these critters except for the domestic cat. Was the lack of sign of these mesopredators during our summer survey just a fluke? Or is there something about their habits and behavior that drove the lack of sign in the summer? And what about the cats? In past years, we have seen regularly seen domestic cat tracks during our summer and fall surveys. Where were they this year?

What questions do you have about the landscape, the animals and their behavior? We will take some time to share questions before we head out into the field.


About Cedar Creek

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve is a 5,400 acre experimental ecological reserve operated by the University of Minnesota. It is located about 35 miles north of Minneapolis and St. Paul, just east of Bethel.

Cedar Creek lies at the boundary between prairie and forest. It is a mosaic of uplands dominated by oak savanna, prairie, hardwood forest, pine forests, and abandoned agricultural fields and of lowlands comprised of ash and cedar swamps, acid bogs, marshes, and sedge meadows. The area was first set aside in the early 1940s to be kept in its natural condition for scientific and educational purposes. Much of the land remains pristine, and has never been developed for agriculture. You can learn more at www.cedarcreek.umn.edu

The diverse, pristine habitat supports a wide variety of mammals. Species seen on the property over the Reserve's 75 year history include white-tailed jackrabbits, badger, fisher, fox squirrels, porcupine & spotted skunks. Reserve staff and scientists are looking for our help to update their index of mammals. If you are a beginner, the surveys will offer an overview of the diversity of Minnesota Mammals. For the advanced tracker, you might get to try your hand at distinguishing fisher from otter; fox squirrel from grey squirrel; and a variety of tiny mammal tracks. You can take a look at some of what our tracking teams have found on our iNaturalist Project Page, or look read about our past surveys on our blog.

The property includes 25 miles of sand roads, which catch tracks beautifully. The roads will be grated shortly before our surveys, offering optimal tracking conditions for us to locate and identify a rich diversity of species.

Public access to the Reserve is limited. The Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey program offers you the rare opportunity to explore this exceptional landscape.


Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve
2660 Fawn Lake Dr NE
Bethel, Minnesota 55005


For a map & directions to Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, click here

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Village Builder Gatherings: January 4 & 5

posted Dec 4, 2019, 11:36 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Dec 28, 2019, 12:14 PM ]

As we move into winter, the sun will soon reach its lowest point in the sky. In this time of outer darkness, it is natural to turn toward our own inner light--warming ourselves with our inner fire as we reflect on the seasons gone by and look ahead to what we want to create in the New Year. 

To support us in kicking off 2020, both for ourselves and as a community, the Village Builder team will host two events on the first weekend of the New Year. A Renewal of Creative Path Gathering on Saturday, January 4, and a Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project 2020 Creation Gathering after Bird Language on Sunday, January 5.


Renewal of Creative Path Potluck & Discussion

Saturday, January 4
2:00 - 9:00pm
Location: Member's Home in St. Paul (TBD)

The Renewal of Creative Path is a process that helps us recognize what supports connection in our lives and align ourselves with our visions, dreams, values and aspirations. Our discussion will follow the prompts offered by Jon Young in this Renewal of Creative Path pamphlet, and will focus primarily on our common interest in nature connection and our collective experience as members of the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project. Take some time over the holidays to reflect and journal on each of the prompts, and come prepared to share your experiences, insights and curiosities.

The first part of the discussion will look at the first four steps of Renewal of Creative Path.

Step 1: Review of What Connects us In Our Lives
Step 2: Journaling Obstacles to Connection
Step 3: Tracking Patterns of Synchronicity & the Help of Nature
Step 4: Inventory of Gifts Analysis

We will break for a potluck dinner at about 5:30 pm and visit the last three steps around 6:45 pm.

Step 5: Backtracking the Stepping Stones of Visions & Gifts
Step 6: Releasing Expectations & Offering Forgiveness
Step 7: Weaving the Creative Scene Without Fear!

The conversation will wrap up around 9:00 pm.

In addition to sharing our motivations, aspirations and long term vision of the work we are doing together, our conversation will also lay some groundwork for the Club Creation gathering the following day.

To RSVP Contact Us or email Jonathan Poppele.



Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project 2020 Creation Gathering

Sunday, January 5
12:30 - 3:00

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
3815 American Blvd E
Bloomington, MN 55425


Following our first Bird Language program of 2020, we will gather to share highlights from the past year and create what we would like to be up to as a club in the year to come. Everyone is welcome to be part of this conversation as we create our coming year together.

As usual, we will gather over food. Bring your own lunch, or bring dishes to share around. After some sharing and envisioning together, we will divide into small groups to plan and create programs, activities and events for the coming year. To prepare for our conversation, I invite you to reflect on the following questions:
  • What were some of your highlights with the club this past year? What make those moments and those events so special?
  • Are there things we did as a club that you don't feel are worth the energy we are putting in to them?
  • What would you like to see the club offering (or offering more of) in 2020?
  • What would you like to help make happen in 2020? And what support would you like from others in making things happen?
I look forward to visiting, sharing, eating and creating together.

Want to RSVP? Have questions? Can't make the gathering but still want to share your thoughts and reflections? Please Contact Us

Bird Language: Sun, Jan 5

posted Dec 2, 2019, 1:17 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Dec 2, 2019, 1:18 PM ]

Please join us for our next Bird Language Gathering

Sunday, January 5 
9:00 - 12:00

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
3815 American Blvd E
Bloomington, MN 55425

Registration for these gatherings is encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop by--and it would be great to know that you are coming!

Birds talk to each other. We can learn to understand it. And it's fun!

In past winters, mixed feeding flocks have kept watch over owls roosting near the Hillside Trail. After several sits, our group started to get familiar with the subtle bands of suppression and excitement that surrounded the owls. The past two years, the barred owls seemed to be roosting in a different part of the Refuge. Will they return this winter? Will we get indications of a great-horned owl in the area again? One thing is for sure--the songbirds will know. Join us as we gather to eavesdrop on their conversations. And perhaps catch sight of an owl in the process.

 


What should I bring?

Bring what you need to be comfortable sitting still, outside on the ground for an extended period of time—perhaps as long as an hour. You will also need something to take notes on. You do not need to have binoculars, but there is no harm in bringing a pair if you would like. Here are a few recommended and optional items to bring:

Recommended:

Note pad & pencil
Ground cloth, blanket or camp-chair
Appropriate clothing for whatever weather we have that day
Warm footware

Optional:
Water bottle
Snack
Binoculars

Sign me up!

Registration is encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop in and join us—and it would be great to know you are coming! If you have any questions, or to register for the event:

For a map & directions click here

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge


Tracking Club: Inner Tracking: Sun, Dec 15

posted Nov 23, 2019, 5:29 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Nov 30, 2019, 12:21 PM ]

Come join us for our next Tracking Excursion at Ft. Snelling State Park as we explore inner tracking:

Sunday, December 15 
9:00am - 1:00pm

We will gather at the Ft. Snelling State Park visitor center:

Ft. Snelling State Park
101 Snelling Lake Rd
West St Paul, MN 55111

When wildlife tracking we not only learn about the intimate details of the lives of animals, we can also learn more about ourselves through "inner tracking". Many of us have found that identifying an animal species based on track or sign or keeping on the trail of a deer has as much to do with our own inner well-being and mindset as with our accumulated experience and knowledge. Before we go out in the field this month we will look at some simple approaches to keeping ourselves perceptive and curious.

This is an all-weather event and we spend time off trail. Please bring appropriate footwear and dress for several hours outdoors in whatever weather we may have that day. If you like, download the iNaturalist app onto your phone to collect pictures to share with our tracking community.

We will gather at 9:00 in the fireplace room in the Visitor Center and explore some approaches to inner tracking before heading out onto the landscape to look for tracks & sign.

Note that you need a State Park pass to drive to the Visitor Center, but you can park for free at the Historic Fort Snelling Visitor Center. It is about a half-mile walk past the historic fort and down the hill to get to the State Park Visitor Center. The Historic Fort parking is located at 200 Tower Ave, St Paul, MN 55111

RSVPs are encouraged, but not required.

Click Here for Directions

Ft. Snelling Visitor Center


Trailing Practice: Sat, Dec 14

posted Nov 23, 2019, 4:56 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Nov 30, 2019, 12:20 PM ]

Welcome to Trailing Practice 

Come join us as we practice following fresh trails, with the goal of seeing the animals that made them. For December, we will return to Ft. Snelling State Park. The deer at Ft. Snelling are habituated to people, giving us opportunities to observe their behavior closely and compare observed behavior with fresh tracks and trails.

Saturday, December 14
9:00 am - 12:30 pm

We will gather at the Thomas Savage Visitor Center: 

Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center
Fort Snelling State Trail
St Paul, MN 55111

This is an all-weather event and we spend time off trail. Please bring appropriate gear and dress for several hours outdoors in whatever weather we may have that day. Please also take precautions for ticks, as we expect to follow deer trails through grass and brush--prime tick habitat.

We will meet at 9:00 at the Visitor Center. We will head out on the trail shortly after 9:00 and return to the Visitor Center by about noon to wrap up. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Kirsten's cell phone at 651-785-4650. Please note that cell reception is poor in much of the park.

RSVPs are encouraged.

Click Here for Directions

Ft. Snelling Visitor Center


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