Wonders on the Water: A Welcome

Whoosh! The flap of the cormorant’s wings lifted it away from the water. It didn’t seem too perturbed by its missed catch. It would have another shot. Twenty yards downriver a snowy white egret stood perfectly still, a lesson in elegance and poise. Red-eared sliders, true to their name, slid one-by-one from their sunning logs into the water at our approach. A bald eagle, barely visible from its great height, surveyed all below.

This is just a glimpse of my first trip out onto the Anacostia River and from this experience, I could tell the watershed and I would have a full year’s worth of adventures and stories to tell by the end of next August.

A cormorant's lunch

Lunch for a cormorant.

5 Good Nature Field Guides for your Smartphone

Smartphones can be extremely helpful when you are working in the field and you need to document with pictures, do some quick species ID or peek into your surrounding landscape with bird's-eye-view aerial imagery -- even for individuals like me, who at some point in our lives have been one of those cell phone rebels seemingly skeptical about the usefulness of all these cell phone technologies. Well, it turns out that now I'm an iPhone hog and my smartphone has really helped me at work and even in the field -- who knew!

There are a number of apps you can download for free or for very reasonable prices. Here are five I use regularly and I recommend to you:

Outdoor Classrooms are Good for Brains

The outdoor classroom is the perfect environment for people to learn, using both sides of their brain actively -- so 200 students at Kelly Miller Middle School built one at their school. Their outdoor classroom has garden space, fruit trees, and circular seating to promote participation. Funded by the District Department of the Environment through the RiverSmart Schools program, and with the help of American University and the Anacostia Watershed Society, students hammered nails into 2x6s, dug holes for trees, and moved 23 cubic yards of soil and mulch. And they did it all in one day like a Yard Crashers episode! 

Check out these pictures of their great work:

outdoor classroom at Kelly Miller Middle School

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