Events

Cedar Creek Winter Survey: Sat, Jan 11

posted Dec 4, 2019, 12:14 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Dec 4, 2019, 12:15 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.


Saturday, January 11

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.


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 4, 2019, 11:36 AM ]

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
3:00 - 9:00pm
Location 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. We will break for a potluck dinner about 5:00 pm and visit the last three steps around 6:30 pm. 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


Bird Language: Sun, Dec 1

posted Nov 7, 2019, 7:15 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Nov 7, 2019, 7:15 AM ]

Please join us for our next Bird Language Gathering  

Sunday, December 1 
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!

Winter is coming. The canopy has opened up again, giving us a good view through the forest. Chickadees and nuthatches are traveling in mixed feeding flocks, "talking" about the goings on in the woods. Come join us on the slopes of the Minnesota River Valley as we eavesdrop on their conversations.

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
Appropriate clothing and foot ware for the season
Ground cloth, blanket or camp-chair
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


Tracking Club: Hunting for Tracks & Sign: Sun, Nov 17

posted Oct 30, 2019, 11:00 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Oct 30, 2019, 11:32 AM ]

Come join us for our next Tracking Excursion at Ft. Snelling State Park to hunt for tracks & sign:

Sunday, November 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

Where are the deer bedding down? Where are the mice feeding? Can we find an owl pellet or raccoon latrine? Our November tracking club will feature a scavenger hunt for tracks and sign to engage our curiosity and questions, draw on the knowledge of different trackers in our community, and deepen our understanding of animal behavior and habitat in Fort Snelling State Park. We'll use iNaturalist to document what we find.

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. We will head out on the trail about 9:20 and return to the Visitor Center around noon to share what we've found. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Kirsten's cell phone at 651-785-4650.

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, Nov 16

posted Oct 30, 2019, 10:43 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Oct 30, 2019, 10:45 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, our plan is to return to Pike Island at Ft. Snelling State Park. This spring's extreme flooding put Pike Island completely underwater for several weeks, pushing the deer to higher ground. Water levels are once again high, having recently flooded the access trails to Pike Island. If the water has receded enough, we plan to look for fresh trails on Pike Island. If the river remains near flood stage, we will look for trails on higher ground.

Saturday, November 16
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 lot by about noon. 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


Bird Language: Sun, Nov 3

posted Oct 7, 2019, 2:17 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Oct 7, 2019, 2:17 PM ]

Please join us for our next Bird Language Gathering 

Sunday, November 3
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!

As we move into late autumn, the fall migration is nearly complete. A few raptors are still moving through on their journey south, while "snow birds" have arrived from their northern breeding grounds. Many year-round residents are now moving about in mixed feeding flocks, filling the woods with their companion calls. Come join us on the slopes above the Minnesota River as we immerse ourselves in the birds world and hear what they have to tell us about the forest.


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
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


Tracking Club: Seeing the Animal

posted Oct 7, 2019, 2:16 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Oct 7, 2019, 2:18 PM ]

Our October tracking club will focus on trailing, as several of our members prepare for their next trailing evaluation with Kersey Lawrence. Join us as we practice following the trails of deer (and perhaps each other) with the goal of seeing the animal we are tracking. We will return to one of our favorite trailing spots in the cities, Reservoir Woods in Roseville, a 115 acre undeveloped park with a dense population of suburban deer. 

Saturday, October 19
9:00 am - 1:00 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 1:00 pm. 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


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