Thursday, July 29, 2010

Travel Teaches About Nature, Wildlife & More!

This is Naturalist Assistant Matt Grisnik's account of the NA's trip to  Costa Rica, where they learned about much more than the fascinating natural environment....

La Fortuna waterfall
I was given the opportunity to travel with a handful of fellow NAs to Costa Rica, one of the most bio diverse places in the world. This trip provided me with many valuable experiences and lessons, ranging from zip lining through jungle canopies, to learning to be thankful for what I have.

Our trip took us all over the country starting in the capitol, San Jose, and ending in Guanacaste, on the pacific side of the country. During the time spent in San Jose, we got a look at how other people live in less fortunate areas. This led to me realizing how well off we are here in Bay Village.

Traveling around the country we got to expeience many amazing things. One of these was La Fortuna waterfall. The waterfall was around 200 feet tall, and to get to the bottom you had to climb down some 400 steps. All the way down the view of the waterfall was awesome and the descent was well worth it. At the base of the waterfall we were able to get in and swim, although the water was rather cold I had no problem getting in and swimming. It was really a neat thing to be able to swim right next to a 200-foot waterfall in the middle of the rainforest.

Matt with an example of Costa Rica's wildlife
Another amazing experience was the boat ride to our second hotel in Tortuguero. The whole ride seemed unreal; it was like something off of the National Geographic Channel. On the way we saw the basilisk, which is a lizard that can run on water; we saw tons of birds as well, including a rufescent tiger heron and quite a few toucans. Tortuguero was probably my favorite part of the trip mainly due to the presence of all the wildlife surrounding the area. At night, we were able to spot caimans off the dock that we used to get to the hotel, and we saw many other reptiles and amphibians including a young boa.

The abundance of wildlife in Costa Rica was just incredible. It was really cool to be able to see many of the things I have read about in books and learned about in school. I am extremely thankful to have had this incredible opportunity and I know that the experiences that were afforded to me by this trip will, without a doubt, stay with me for the rest of my life.

-Matt Grisnik
Lake Erie Nature & Science Center Naturalist Assistant &
2009 Student Volunteer of the Year

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thoughts on Costa Rica

Naturalist Assistant and our 2008 Student Volunteer of the Year, Sean Waitkus, shares more details on the this summer's NA trip to Costa Rica.

Our Itinerary: Day 1 – San Jose; Days 2 & 3– Tortuguero; Day 4 – Sarapiqui; Days 5 & 6 – Arenal Region/La Fortuna; Day 7 – Monteverde; Days 8 & 9– Guanacaste

“Biodiversity levels were massive; looking out a window you’d see more wildlife than you’d see during a week-long trek in Ohio”

Species seen: marine toad, dink frog, gladiator frog, glass frog, blue-jean frog/strawberry poison-dart frog, spectacled caiman, American crocodile, central American coral snake, emerald basilisk, house gecko, green iguana, ctenosaur, ground anole, slender anole, barred whiptail, central American whiptail, magnificent frigate bird, olivaceous cormorant, roseate spoonbill, boat-billed heron, snowy egret, tricolored heron, tiger heron, green heron, rufescent tiger heron, Muscovy duck, turkey vulture, black vulture, crested caracara, black hawk, black and white owl, kingfisher, keel-billed toucan, clay-colored robin, montezuma’s orpendola, boat-tailed grackle/great-tailed grackle, scarlet rumped tanager, blue-gray tanager, opossum (unknown kind), central american spider monkey, mantled howler monkey, nine-banded armadillo, three-toed sloth, variegated squirrel, white-tailed deer, scarlet macaw, blue-and-yellow macaw, military macaw, feral domestic cat, feral domestic dog.

“Life is much simpler there. They have a fraction of our resources yet they seem much happier and more content.”

“The people were very kind and peaceful. Granted, we primarily traveled to popular tourist locations. However, we saw a major difference I general mood as we left the city of San Jose and moved into the surrounding country.”

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wildlife Rehab Update - Kingfisher Release

We hope you caught the Westlake-Bay Observe story about the three feathered "fishermen" who rehabbed with us this summer. When our talented Communications Intern, Katie Ferman, originally wrote the story, the Kingfisher patient was doing well but not yet ready to return to the wild. We thought we'd let you know that we wound up with a "three for three" success rate in this particular case.

Before the Kingfisher was released, it was banded. You can read about the benefits of bird banding here. The photos here of the Kingfisher preparing to feast on goldfish were taken by our Seasonal Wildlife Specialist Tim Jasinski.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Follow-up: Good News From Shaker Hawk Re-Nesting

We've had some encouraging reports on that baby hawk our Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program staff attempted to returned to its family in Shaker Heights using an artificial nest. You'll recall the baby hawk had fallen from a high nest, was rescued by a passerby and brought to us for evaluation and care. We went up in a city bucket truck to get the baby and an artificial nest as close to its original nest (and sibling) as possible.

This past week, the homeowner's neighbors spotted BOTH youngsters up in the branches... a sighting that's a very positive sign that the re-nesting worked and the baby has joined its sibling as a "branchling." 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Beyond Cleaning Cages – NAs in Costa Rica

We asked Wildlife Specialist and supervisor of Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s Naturalist Assistant volunteer program, Derek Skapes, to share highlights from the “life-changing trip” that a group of our hard-working NAs enjoyed this summer. Photos by NA Sean Waitkus.

I recently had the very fortunate opportunity of taking some our NAs to Costa Rica for a fun filled, educational, eye-opening, life changing trip. Our international travel endeavor included excursions throughout the entire country of Costa Rica. The idea of the trip was to provide an experience that would not only be educational, but also beneficial to their development as a young adult. A travel experience is always one where an individual can discover themselves and expand their horizons in all aspects of life.

During this trip through Costa Rica, the students were guided by a renowned Costa Rican guide. We explored volcanoes, hot springs, forest canopies, volcanic sulfur springs, tropical forests, canals, rivers, cultural marketplaces, large cities and towns, night hikes (reptiles and amphibians were most prominent during these) and multiple beaches.

The opportunity to see a different, less fortunate country and the people that live there was a also beneficial. To be exposed to another culture and in a different country is a broadening experience that would only give the students a new outlook on their lives.

Of course, the chance to explore, study, and learn about a tropical rainforest in one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet is also something that the students will likely carry on for the rest of their lives. As you might expect, the nature experiences were a highlight for our students because we are a nature/wildlife/science organization. They were able to study and learn from first hand experience in a biological hotspot, with a well-respected guide to educate them as well.

The reactions of the students were incredible and very heart-warming. Multiple students thanked me and our organization for giving them “the time of their lives.” To those of you who supported our fundraising leading up to the trip, we all say a huge thank-you to you as well!
-Derek Skapes, Wildlife Specialist

Monday, July 12, 2010

Naturalist Assistants Rainforest Adventures

Our teen Naturalist Assistants (NAs) work hard caring for our wildlife on the weekends, but it's not all work and no play. This group of  volunteer NAs took a field trip to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo yesterday.
Some of our NAs recently returned from a "field trip" that had them traveling a much greater distance... all the way to Costa Rica. Watch this space for photos and a travelogue on their adventures down south.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Schuele Star Shows Canceled Through Friday

Please help us get the word out! All Schuele Planetarium programs Wednesday - Friday, (July 7 - 9, 2010) are CANCELED due to Summer Camp. We'll resume our normal star show schedule on Saturday, July 10. Thanks for your understanding and we apologize for any inconvenience!