Outdoor Explorers

With many area students on spring break, the Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary had plenty to offer this week, wrapping up their “Hike with a Naturalist” series on Thursday.

The program, which cost $7 per person, or $5 for “Friends of the Nature Center,” lets visitors wander the trails with one of the naturalists that works at the Audubon, learning about the different species that inhabit the land around the sanctuary and seeing the first signs of spring.

“We’ll be doing these nature walks through the spring and into the summer,” said senior naturalist and guide for Thursday’s hike Jeff Tome. “Whenever there’s a free naturalist, really. Right now we have three naturalists that work here full-time, but we depend on volunteers, too, who help lead kids on field trips and run education programs. We have a few interns coming to work here that will help with the hikes and other projects around here, too.”

Tome, who has worked at the Audubon Center since 1996, led nine visitors around the grounds on Thursday, showing them some of the area wildlife and teaching them valuable knowledge about identifying plants. Along the trail, children spotted the kestrel boxes that screech owls use as their home during the winter, found the remains of a black bear, spotted deer tracks, and learned that poison ivy can still cause a rash even when it’s only a vine during the winter.

The trip wrapped up with a walk around one of the sanctuary’s ponds, currently home to two pairs of geese, which Tome said happens every year. Afterward, visitors were taken to see Liberty, the sanctuary’s bald eagle.

According to Tome, there are always programs being offered at the Audubon, with upcoming events including a beekeeping workshop, a wild flower series and more.

“Becky Nystrom from JCC is coming in to lead a program, and John Titus, a biologist from SUNY Fredonia is going to lead a program, too,” said Tome. “We have all kinds of guests speakers coming to the Audubon. It should be a really good season for us.”