autumn, beauty in nature, birds, blackbirds, bulrushes, cattails, cool temperatures, fall colors, grasses, Great Salt Lake, Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve, kestrels, marsh, mice, migration, pellets, reeds, school field trips, shorebirds, snakes, swallows, voles, wetlands, woolly bear caterpillars
Yesterday I helped with another field trip out at the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve. As we stood on top of the Tower and looked out over the marsh, I was impressed with how much the wetlands have changed, and how each season brings its own beauty. Just a few short weeks ago, the marsh was green and rang with the calls of birds. Now the reeds, rushes, and grasses of red, gold, and brown rustled in the wind and reminded me that it’s time to harvest my garden. The air was crisp and clean. The autumn sky was a merry shade of blue. We saw only a few birds: most of the shorebirds had already begun their migration south. The sparrows’ nests were empty, but some blackbirds fluttered up as we walked along the mile-long boardwalk. A pair of kestrels hovered over the bulrushes, searching for mice and voles. A couple of woolly bear caterpillars scurried by us, intent on finding a place among the cattails to hibernate for the winter. The children were full of stories and enthusiasm as they examined different plants, searched for bugs, spotted a snake hiding under the pavilion, learned about the birds, and pried apart raptor pellets to find the teeth and bones within the furry remains. When they got back on the bus, they carried away with them a sense of wonder and the beginnings of an appreciation for what it means to be a part of this beautiful world.