Eye on Nature

Want Nature this Winter? Get Hopping!

by Jane Kirkland

This winter you and your kids can experience nature both outdoors and indoors. Plenty of Delaware Valley nature activities can keep you going all winter. Here are just a few:

January
Go frogging. Frogs — a Chorus of Colors at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, Phila. Features frogs from around the world, through mid-May. $10 adults, $8 ages 3-12. www.acnatsci.org

Go fishing. Fish indoors at the Greater Philadelphia Sport, Travel, and Outdoor Show. You can see birds of prey, fish in a pond, visit the Two-by-Two Zoo, and learn outdoor activities. Jan. 19–22, at the Fort Washington Expo Center, Fort Washington, PA. Adults $10, children $4, younger than age 5, Free. www.phillysportshow.com/index.htm

Go Shelling. The Delaware Museum of Natural History, Wilmington, has one of the nation’s largest shell collections — with more than 220,000 mollusks (shells). It also has more than 117,000 bird specimens, and the second largest collection of birds’ eggs in North America. Adults $6, ages 3-17 $5.
302-658-9111, www.delmnh.org

Watch TV. From small ponds to birdhouses, cable TV channel Animal Planet’s new Backyard Habitat shows you how to invite wildlife to your yard. Weekdays at 11am and 3pm. Check episodes at http://animal.discovery.com, click on the Listings A-Z and choose “Backyard Habitat,” weekdays at 11am & 3pm.

Take a Drive. Drive to Conowingo Dam, one of the best places to see bald eagles in the winter. Located just beyond the PA/Maryland border on the Susquehanna River, 50 miles south of West Chester on Rte. 1, this is a popular wintering ground and you’re just about guaranteed to see an eagle, maybe dozens! After the dam, make the first left and follow signs to Fisherman’s Park.

February
Join Me. Meet me at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, New Hope, PA and see my multi-media presentation, “I Saw a Bald Eagle Soaring over My Grocery Store.” This is a family program. A book signing follows. Sat., Feb. 25, 1pm. Adults $9, children $7. 215-862-2924. www.bwhp.com

Swim with the Sharks. Kids 12 and older can swim with the sharks at the Adventure Aquarium, Camden, NJ. All ages can come within “chomping distance” of crocodiles and hippos. Free-flying birds will soar around you in the midst of thousands of fish. Daily, 9:30am-5pm, adults $16.95, children $13.95 plus tax. 856-365-3300. www.adventureaquarium.com

Stifle Boredom. The Nature Center of Cape May hosts The Kids Can Expo on Sun., Feb. 26, 10am-4pm at the Cape May Convention Hall. Celebrate winter with games, exhibits, live animals, crafts, food, entertainment and fun. Many environmental groups will provide activities. Stage performances take place throughout the day. $4,
under Age 3 free. 609-898-8848, www.njaudubon.org/Centers/NCCM.

Take a Walk. Participate in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 17-20 by taking a walk with your kids to see how many species of birds you can see. Help scientists by reporting your findings. www.birdsource.org/gbbc

March
Stay warm. The Philadelphia Flower Show, March 15-26 at the Phila. Convention Center features fantastic exhibits. This year see the largest plant sculpture in the world, Natura, the Goddess of Nature, rising 27 feet from the show floor. Wear comfortable shoes. Maybe you’d like to learn more about gardening to attract birds and butterflies in this, my third year presenting at the Flower Show. For ticket prices and schedules, see www.theflowershow.com

Take a Drive. Take the one-hour drive from the PA Turnpike’s King of Prussia exit to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Kleinfeltersville, PA to view migrating snow geese and tundra swans. Counts run as high as 80,000 snow geese and 30,000 swans. The best time to visit is 1 to 2 hours before sunset. Dress warmly. You can watch from the car if the weather is too cold. Swans and geese are present at Middle Creek for only a few weeks, so call ahead or visit the website. Open daily, 8am to 4pm, March 1 to Nov. 30.
717-733-1512, www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/enved/mcreek.htm

Jane Kirkland is a speaker, naturalist, photographer and author of the Take A Walk nature books for kids. Learn more at www.takeawalk.com