Events

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


Cloquet Wildife Tracking Survey: Sat, Feb 23

posted Feb 5, 2019, 11:49 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Feb 11, 2019, 10:22 AM ]

The Cloquet Forestry Center is hosting its second winter wildlife tracking survey in cooperation with the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project and the University of Minnesota Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology Club. Short term goals for this project include assessing what animals are using the forest and providing a learning experience for Cloquet Forestry Center management staff and University students. Long term goals include monitoring trends in mammal diversity and abundance with possible links to forest management and climate change.

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


The survey will be an all day affair. We plan to divide into teams and survey the snowpacked roads for track and sign, 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. Here is the schedule for the day:

9:30     Gathering in the Stine room
10:00    Shuttle to survey routes and begin tracking
12:00    Lunch break in the field
12:30    Second survey route
2:30     Return to the Stine room to share the story of the day
4:00     Complete and head home


Registration

Advanced registration is required. To ease our planning, please register no later than Wednesday, February 20.

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


iNaturalist

We use iNaturalist as a tool for recording and sharing our observations. It is the primary way we document what we find and report our results to researchers at the Cloquet Forestry Center. You can view sightings from our past surveys here on iNaturalist. Not everyone needs to record observations in iNaturalist, but there should be enough people in each group logging observations that all of the groups findings get reported. To add observations to our project, you will need an iNaturalist account, and be a member of the Cloquet Forestry Center Wildlife Tracking iNaturalist project. If you don't have an iNaturalist account, begin by signing up using this link.

Once you have signed up, you can join the Cloquet Forestry Center Wildlife Tracking project and add observations. You may also be interested in joining the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project and the North American Animal Tracking Database and adding your tracking observations to these as well.


About Cloquet Forestry Center

The Cloquet Forestry Center, located 135 miles north of the Twin Cities, has been the primary research and education forest for the University of Minnesota for over a century. Located in the Lake Superior watershed in northeastern Minnesota, this 2,662 acre experimental forest is home to researchers, practitioners, students, and members of the public who are interested in forest ecosystems and their sustainable management. The Center sits inside the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation and partners with the tribe on forest management and educational programming. It's northern Minnesota biome is home to a diversity of wildlife including moose, wolves, bears, lynx, bobcats, porcupines, pine martins, hares, goshawks, deer, and ruffed grouse.

Get more information about the Center here.


Overnight Accommodations

The Cloquet Forestry Center has offered housing for our group the night before the survey at a very reasonable price. There are two options:
  • There is a 4 bedroom cabin with a kitchen available, which can sleep 8 people. The cost for the whole cabin would be $120 for the night.
  • There is also a bunkhouse available for $12 per person. The bunkhouse also has a kitchen, and can accommodate up to 17 people between two large, shared bunk rooms.
These options are only for Friday night, and will allow for a more leisurely morning before the survey. At this time, we expect to reserve space in the bunkhouse. We need to make housing reservations no later than Wednesday, February 20. If you would like housing for Friday night, please let Jonathan Poppele know when you register, and please register before the Feb 20 deadline.


If you would like private accommodations, or would like to rent a room for Saturday night after the survey, these are two of the closest and least expensive options:
Super 8 Cloquet  121 Big Lake Rd, Cloquet, MN 55720
Americc Inn, Carlton  1308 MN-33, Cloquet, MN 55720


Carpooling

Cloquet Forestry Center is about a two hour drive from the Twin Cities. You can coordinate carpools using this GroupCarpool.com webpage.


Cross Country Skiing Nearby

Extensive networks of cross country ski trails are available in Fond du Lac State Forest and Jay Cooke State Park, just 10-15 miles from the Cloquet Forestry Center. You can get more information, and perhaps some information about trail conditions, from the Skinny Ski website:


Address, Map & Directions


Cloquet Forestry Center
175 University Road, Cloquet, MN 55720

For a map & directions to Cloquet Forestry Center, click here

Cloquet Forestry Center

Tracking Club: Wargo Nature Center: Sun, Feb 17

posted Feb 5, 2019, 11:43 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Feb 5, 2019, 11:44 AM ]

Come join us for Tracking Club at Wargo Nature Center in the North Metro 

Sunday, February 17
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Wargo Nature Center
7701 Main St.
Lino Lakes, MN 55038

This February, tracking club will be at the Wargo Nature Center in Lino Lakes, offering us some different habitats to explore and perhaps some new species to track. Depending on the weather, February can be a great month for tracking...or a difficult one. If we have good snow, we will spend the day following fresh trails. If the ground is frozen too hard to register good tracks, we will work on sign interpretation instead.

This is an all-weather event and we spend time off trail, perhaps in very cold conditions. Please dress for several hours outdoors in whatever weather we may have that day.

We will gather at 9:00 in the Nature Center. We will head out on the trail after a short introduction and return to the Nature Center about 12:30 for wrap-up. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Amy's cell at 609-480-8024. Please note that cell reception may be spotty.

RSVPs are encouraged, but not required.

For a map & directions click here

Wargo Nature Center


February Bird Languge Gathering

posted Jan 12, 2019, 3:05 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 17, 2019, 3:07 PM by The Center for Mind-Body Oneness ]

Bird Language is moving to Sundays!  

Sunday, February 3    
9:00 - 1:00 

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

Despite the ongoing government shutdown, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge has been given permission to reopen for events and programs for a limited time and will be open on February 3, as we move our Bird language Gatherings to the first Sunday of the month!

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


Cedar Creek Survey: January 26

posted Jan 3, 2019, 2:30 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 3, 2019, 2:30 PM ]

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.


Winter Survey, Saturday, January 26

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:

8:30am    Gathering at Lindman Center
9:00am    Tracking teams leave for the field
~2:30pm  Return from the field for sharing, mapping, debriefing and lunch!
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 January 20 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.


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.


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

January Trailing Practice at Carlos Avery

posted Jan 3, 2019, 2:28 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 3, 2019, 2:31 PM ]

Welcome to Trailing Practice 


Since our inception, the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project has had a strong focus on track & sign interpretation. To support our members growing interest in trailing, we plan to host monthly practice sessions at a variety of locations in and around the Metro Area. This month, we will head up to Carlos Avery.

Saturday, January 19
9:00 am - 12:00 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


January Tracking Club: Otter be Fun

posted Jan 3, 2019, 1:29 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 3, 2019, 2:34 PM ]

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

Sunday, January 20
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


January Bird Language *Canceled*

posted Dec 6, 2018, 7:58 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 3, 2019, 1:09 PM ]

**The Wildlife Refuge is Closed During the Government Shutdown**


**I am sorry to report that we are canceling our January Bird Language gathering, due to the government shutdown. We hope everything will be back up and running in time for our next gathering on Sunday, February 3**



Please join us for our next Bird Language Gathering

Saturday, January 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!

**Please note that the Refuge Visitor Center is closed during the government shutdown, and all programs are suspended. Depending on when the shutdown ends, we may cancel this gathering. Please stay posted for updates.***

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


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