Events

5th Anniversary Bird Language: Sun, May 5

posted Apr 9, 2019, 7:37 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Apr 9, 2019, 7:58 AM ]

Please join us for our next Bird Language Gathering as we celebrate our 5th Anniversary at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, May 5
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!

This May marks five years that the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project has been hosting our Bird Language Gathering at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Come join us this Cinco de Mayo as we celebrate in the best way we know how--by sitting on the slopes of the Minnesota River Valley to get a glimpse into the lives of the area's avian residents. And there might even be cake.


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 sitting still outside
Sun protection
Poncho if it is raining

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


April Tracking Club: Test Prep

posted Apr 9, 2019, 7:20 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Apr 18, 2019, 10:49 AM ]

Come join us for our next Tracking Excursion:

Sunday, April 21
9:00am - 1:00pm

**Final Location**


Meet at Historic Ft. Snelling Visitor Center
200 Tower Ave
St Paul, MN 55111

We will study the track and sigh along the Axel Von Bergen Trail under the Mendota Bridge at Ft. Snelling. This is the dirt and gravel trail on the bluff that we normally access by climbing the stairs behind the Visitor Center. Fort Snelling State Park is closed due to flooding, so we will access the trail from Historic Fort Snelling.

We will gather at 9:00 in the parking lot under the Cedar Ave Bridge. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Jon's cell phone at 612-388-4700. Please note that cell reception may be poor.

In early May, a group group of us will participate in a CyberTracker Track & Sign Evaluation with Dave Moskowitz. Time for some final test prep! Come join us as we challenge each other to identify and interpret tracks and sign and support our friends as they prepare for their evaluation.

RSVPs, while not required, are strongly encouraged.

Click Here for Directions

Historic Fort Snelling Visitor Center


Trailing Practice: Sat, Apr 20

posted Mar 20, 2019, 11:05 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Mar 20, 2019, 12:16 PM ]

Welcome to Trailing Practice 

To support our members growing interest in trailing, we host monthly practice sessions at a variety of locations in and around the Metro Area. This month, we will be at Reservoir Woods in Roseville, a 115 acre undeveloped park with a dense population of suburban deer. 

Saturday, April 20
9:00 am - 12:00 pm

We will gather at the parking lot at the corner of Alta Vista Dr and Stuber Rd: 

Reservoir Woods Park
1901 Alta Vista Dr
Roseville, MN 55113

This is an all-weather event and we spend time off trail.
There are no amenities at Reservoir Woods. No bathrooms, no drinking fountains. Please bring appropriate gear and dress for several hours outdoors in whatever weather we may have that day.


We will meet at 9:00 in the parking lot. We will head out on the trail shortly after 9:00 and return to the parking lot by noon. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Jon's cell phone at 612-388-4700. Please note that once we are trailing, I will have my phone on vibrate and could easily miss an incoming call.

RSVPs are encouraged, but not required.

Click Here for Directions

Reservoir Woods


Cedar Creek Spring Survey, Sat Apr 13

posted Mar 7, 2019, 11:55 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Mar 20, 2019, 1:24 PM ]

The 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 last winter survey here, and our spring 2018 survey here on our blog.

Spring Survey, Saturday, April 13

The Survey will be an all day affair. We will head out in teams to survey sand roads for animal tracks, then come back in to share our discoveries with one another. Each team will be led by an experienced wildlife tracker. Here is the schedule for the day:

8:30am    Team Leads & Assistants Meet to Create Survey Routes

9:00am    Gathering & Welcome at Lindman Center
9:30am    Tracking teams leave for the field
  --Lunch in the field--
~2:30pm  Return from the field for mapping, debriefing and sharing
4:30pm    Complete

This is an all-weather event. Please come dressed to spend most of the day outside in whatever conditions we have that day. Bring your own lunches and snacks. Weather permitting, we will eat lunch in the field. Cedar Creek will provide coffee and snacks in the morning.

Please register using our contact form, or write Caitlin Potter <caitlin@umn.edu> or Jonathan Poppele <poppele@umn.edu> to let us know you are coming. Please also let us know if you would like be a team lead or assist a team lead.

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 webpage to offer or request a ride.

Bring Your Questions

In recent surveys, our teams have identified the tracks of about 20 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 wolf track sightings verified by Cedar Creek's new network of trail cameras. A lot has been changing every season and we are looking forward to what we will find this summer. Some of the questions that have come up in recent surveys include:
  • What is the dynamic between the two wolves that we are seeing on the property? Are they both killing deer? When one takes a deer, do they typically share the carcass? Are they, as we are guessing, a male and a female? How are they relating to each other?
  • Many of our teams found a large number of weasel trails during our winter survey. Have we just gotten better at identifying their trails, or were they more abundant or more active this winter? Can we continue to spot their trails as the snow melts?
  • We have never identified fisher tracks during our spring, summer or fall surveys, but in our last winter survey we found their tracks all over the reserve. Can we locate and identify fisher track or sign when there isn't snow on the ground? Where would we look? And what does all this tell us about the habits of the fisher at Cedar Creek?
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.


Cedar Creek Spring Star Party

Cedar Creek is beginning a new partnership with the Minnesota Astronomical Society to offer Star Parties at Lindeman Center. The first Cedar Creek Star Party will be the same day as our Spring Survey--Saturday, April 13, beginning at 8:00pm. We invite you to stick around (or come back after dinner) for the first of several evenings of astronomy this year! We'll begin with a general-audience talk from one of our MAS experts, and then (conditions permitting) head out to the patio to look at the sky through a variety of telescopes. The event will be held rain or shine, although telescope time is weather-dependent.You can get more information, and RSVP for the Star Party, here.


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

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


Bird Language: Sun, Apr 7

posted Mar 6, 2019, 12:41 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Mar 8, 2019, 11:47 AM ]

Please join us for our next Bird Language Gathering 

Sunday, April 7 
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!

It's spring at the Refuge--at lest according to the calendar. The first red-winged blackbirds have shown their stripes, and male robins are beginning to stake out territories. Meanwhile, we have seen some recent signs of Cooper's hawks and owls setting up their own territories down on the floodplain. As territorial aggression increases, these predators may try to take advantage of the commotion. Come join us on the slopes of the Minnesota River Valley as we get a glimpse into the lives of the area's avian residents.


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 sitting still outside
Sun protection
Poncho if it is raining

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


March Tracking Club: Pi Day (+π): Sun, Mar 17

posted Mar 5, 2019, 4:22 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Mar 8, 2019, 11:46 AM ]

Come join us for our next Tracking Excursion at Ft. Snelling State Park for a slightly late celebration of Pi Day:

Sunday, March 17
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


In celebration of Pi Day (3-14), we will engage in a lighthearted exploration of the mathematics of tracking. Our own Sydney Chandler, math educator and Master of Environmental Systems Mathematical Modeling (that is literally her credential) will help us turn our attention to the science of patterns as we explore the tracks and sign of the still snowy landscape.

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: Sat, Mar 16

posted Mar 5, 2019, 3:33 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Mar 6, 2019, 12:06 PM ]

Welcome to Trailing Practice 

To support our members growing interest in trailing, we host monthly practice sessions at a variety of locations in and around the Metro Area. This month, we will be at Hyland Park for trailing, followed by some cross country skiing. 

Saturday, March 16 
9:00 am - 12:00 pm

We will gather at Richardon Nature Center:

Richardson Nature Center
8737 E Bush Lake Rd
Bloomington, MN 55438

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

We will meet at 9:00 in the Nature Center. We will head out on the trail about 9:20 and return to the Nature Center by noon. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Jon's cell phone at 612-388-4700. Please note that cell reception is poor in much of the park.

After trailing, some of us will head out onto the beautiful Hyland ski trails. It has been a few years since the natural snow trails have been in such good condition. We will once again begin at the Nature Center, using the Nature Center Spur Trail to connect to the rest of the trail network. We will head out on the ski trails around 12:30.

RSVPs are encouraged, especially if you want to connect with us for skiing.

Click Here for Directions

Richardson Nature Center


Trailing Practice: Sat, Feb 16

posted Feb 8, 2019, 10:30 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Feb 8, 2019, 10:30 AM ]

Welcome to Trailing Practice 

To support our members growing interest in trailing, we host monthly practice sessions at a variety of locations in and around the Metro Area. This month, we will be at our familiar Ft. Snelling State Park. 

Saturday, February 16 
9:00 am - 12:00 pm

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

Ft. Snelling State Park
101 Snelling Lake Rd
West 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.

We will meet 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 by noon. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Jon's cell phone at 612-388-4700. Please note that cell reception is poor in much of the park.

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


March Merriment: Games & Nature Connection Gathering

posted Feb 5, 2019, 12:16 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Feb 8, 2019, 9:59 AM ]

Save the Date for late winter fun at scenic Lake Elmo Park Reserve! 


Saturday, March 2 

2:00 - 7:00 PM 


Nordic Center
Lake Elmo Park Reserve
1515 Keats Ave N
Lake Elmo, MN 55042

Come join friends for winter fun at scenic Lake Elmo Park Reserve! Gather at the Nordic Center at 2 PM. Meet old friends and make new acquaintances while enjoying cross country skiing (weather permitting), nature wandering to find track and sign from local wildlife, and games.

After enjoying an afternoon outdoors, we’ll share snacks and hot drinks in the Nordic Center.


Hope to see you there!



What to bring:

  • Warm boots
  • Winter clothing (see below)
  • Skis (optional)
  • Snowshoes (optional)
  • Snacks and beverages


Schedule & Activities

2:00 PM:  Meet at the Nordic Center in Lake Elmo Park Reserve for cross country skiing or nature wandering, depending on snow conditions.
4:00 PM:  Meet back at the Nordic Center for Games. Games may include Capture the Flag, Fox and Geese, Animal Form Races, and more - be prepared to move!
5:30 PM:  Hot drinks and snacks in Nordic Center
7:00 PM:  Wrap-up


Questions (and some answers):

Are there fees for parking or skiing?

A Washington County Parks vehicle fee is required for the park ($7 per day or $30 for the season). Season passes are also good at Anoka County Parks and Carver County Parks. Skiers age 16 and over need to have a Minnesota State Ski Pass ($20 for the season or $6 per day). Arrive early to secure passes, find parking, and get fitted for ski equipment.

How are trail conditions for skiing?

Check out Washington County Trail Reports and Skinny Ski Trail Reports for the latest info.

What should I bring for drinks and snacks?

Feel free to bring beverages, including hot drinks in a thermos, mugs, and finger-food snacks to share with others. We will bring some extra mugs and serving plates. We don’t have access to a kitchen or refrigerator.

What should I wear? It’s cold out there!

Check out this helpful resource from REI about dressing for cold weather. For more tips about staying warm, dry and comfortable outside in the cold, take a look at this page from The Big Outside. Feel free to bring a change of dry clothes as we will be more active in the afternoon and less active in the evening. There are places in the Nordic Center to change clothes.


RSVP

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 RSVP:

E-mail Jonathan <poppele@umn.edu>
Use our online Contact Form
Link to this event here on Facebook

For map and directions, click here

Nordic Center at Lake Elmo Park Reserve



Bird Language Gathering: Sun, Mar 3

posted Feb 5, 2019, 11:56 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Feb 8, 2019, 10:08 AM ]

Please join us for our next Bird Language Gathering **Now on Sunday** 

Sunday, March 3
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!

March is the beginning of meteorological spring, when some migrant and resident songbirds are just beginning to stake out territories. Meanwhile, the owls are well into their nesting season and keeping the songbirds on alert. Have a look at what we saw last year during our March sit, then come join us on the slopes of the Minnesota River Valley to see what the birds are saying about this year's transition from winter to spring.


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 sitting still outside
Sun protection
Poncho if it is raining

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


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