Celebrating Earth Day at Mill Creek

On April 19, despite gusty winds and misty rain, GWF volunteers celebrated Earth Day by working diligently to clear Chinese privet from the Mill Creek nature trails. But, it wasn’t all work and no play, as participants were able to soak up the sights and sounds of the wetland through guided bird and nature walks.

Later that evening, Robert Hill from Zoo Atlanta headed a 2-hour night hike through the wetland. Of the six species of frogs thought to be on the property, four were spotted –  the spring peeper, and green, leopard, and gray treefrogs.

MCNC Today 11/16/2012

This morning, we had five participants in our weekly birding walkabout at Mill Creek Nature Center. It was a crisp, cool, clear morning.

As soon as we walked out on the boardwalk at the wetlands, we were greeted by at least 200 cedar waxwings. It was an awesome sighting! John Deitsch captured a great telephoto picture of one of them (see attached).

After walking the property for an hour or so, we got an even more special treat – the sighting on an American bald eagle – the first we’ve ever seen flying above MCNC. John captured another great photo of this majestic bird of prey (again, see attached).

After lunch John and I returned to the wetlands where we saw a red-shouldered hawk, a hermit thrush, a pileated woodpecker, AND a sharp-shinned hawk. John noted 45 species on the property just for today. Great job, John!!!

Later in the day, forty pounds of trash were removed from the property, including three fluorescent light bulbs (each are four feet long). The flood from six weeks ago brought us a plethora of interesting objects downstream – footballs, softballs, basketballs, tennis balls, rubber balls, plastic cups, straws, plastic bags, plastic plant containers, and plastic bottles. There’s still more trash to retrieve!

MCNC is still wearing her autumn coat of colorful leaves, so come on down and enjoy the scenery!

MCNC Today – June 1, 2012

Well, it’s been an interesting week so far at Mill Creek Nature Center –

We’ve had two windfalls, paint ball enthusiasts visited MCNC, snakes are coming out, and also female turtles.

The first windfall was a large wateroak limb (about 10 inches in diameter) that fell and broke a rail on the 120-foot boardwalk. It was repaired quite easily.

The second windfall occurred at 1 p.m. on Memorial Day. Thank goodness no one was underneath it! A maple tree broke off about 15 feet above the ground. About a 30 foot section fell on to a short boardwalk leading to the observation tower. The tree trunk is 25 inches in diameter. It took a second, lower limb down with it. It is blocking the trail, and Suzy made a couple of signs that have been placed on the trail just before reaching the windfall area. Dan Douthard, Shane Watkins and I have cleared most of the small limbs and twigs from around the huge trunk. Shane has a friend with the right sized chainsaw who will come cut it up in the next few days. Meanwhile, the trail to the observation tower is closed. Thanks to Suzy, Dan, and Shane for their generous volunteer efforts!

I was fortunate enough to see a magnificent six foot long, healthy king snake last Friday. He was out in the open and  staring at me. Unfortunately, this was one of the few times that I did not have my camera with me! 😦 Later I saw a very nice red-bellied watersnake. 🙂

Today, a jogger on the Ivy Creek Greenway showed me a female turtle he had found laying her eggs on the edge of the trail. Nice!

Large toad found near maple tree windfall

This week will end on a high note – we will hold our National Trails Day event on Saturday, June 2nd! Please take time to come on down to the property. Register at the table at the gravel turnaround at 10:00. Meander over to the amphitheater at 10:30. There a presentation will be made on “Leave No Trace”. After the presentation, there will be guided walks along the trails.

Looking forward to seeing you all there on Saturday!

Hank Ohme
Project Manager, Mill Creek Nature Center

MCNC Today – April 25, 2012

What a great event we had last Saturday celebrating Earth Day 2012 at MCNC!!!! Thanks to all who participated.

We got a lot of Chinese privet removed, and what a crowd we had over at the amphitheater!!! The kids put together 10 bird houses (and I have them all hung around the property), privet disc products were being manufactured by the dozens, and many of you used colored pencils to decorate Earth Day sheets. A lot of people were able to take nature walks along our trails and take in the beauty of the nature center. I must say, some of the privet products were cleverly designed! I can’t wait to see the photos and video from the event!

And the weather was great!

I have been checking all the wood duck boxes on the property. One box has two different kinds of eggs in it. Karen Theodorou, the manager of the Birdwatchers Supply Store, tells me there are wood duck and hooded merganser eggs in the same box. How about that?! Some of the others have eggs too, but there are some that don’t have any yet.

I’ve also seen a muskrat the past two days. He’s busy doing something – in the day time hours – but I don’t know what.

I’m very pleased to say that the wild onions are now in bloom!

It’s been pretty chilly the last two mornings, but it will be warming up soon. So, come on down and explore MCNC. It was a rushed event last Saturday, but now you can come and spend some leisure time enjoying the nature center.

Hank Ohme
Project Manager, Mill Creek Nature Center

Join us for Earth Day at Mill Creek Nature Center Saturday, April 21st!

Earth Day at Mill Creek Nature Center

Saturday, April 21 10 a.m. – 12: p.m.

Join us for an Earth Day morning of work and play at the Georgia Wildlife Federation’s Mill Creek Nature Center in Buford! There is restoration work that needs to be done, crafts for the kids and nature hikes for everyone!

Participants need to park in the Mall of Georgia parking lot near the intersection of Mall of Georgia Blvd. and Nature Center Parkway. They should cross the street and look for the MCNC banner. The registration table will be set up in the gravel turnaround behind the banner.

We will have several activities going on simultaneously. If some adults would like to help repair a damaged boardwalk, then they should bring portable drills (with charged batteries). They will be replacing warped decking and using phillips head or star (torque) head screws. Knee high waterproof boots would be advisable  as well.

If other adults are inclined to assist in removing Chinese privet (a non-native, invasive plant), they need to bring bow saws, clippers, loppers, pruning shears, and gloves. we will have adults with chainsaws to cut down the large privet, and everyone else will cut them in to smaller pieces, and stack the limbs in to brush piles for the birds.

Children are encouraged to go to the amphitheater where there will be supervised crafts. There are a limited number of bird house kits to assemble and there will be things to make out of Chinese privet discs. We will also have coloring sheets and a MCNC Nature Scrapbook on display.

Of course, if anyone does not want to participate in any of these activities, they are welcome to take a nature walk through the property. We will have guides if they are needed.

In any event, we would like for all participants to wear closed-toed shoes, bring their own water, insect repellent, and sun screen. There are no restroom facilities on the property. If a participant has not previously completed a “Volunteer Waiver Form” (see attachment), he or she will be required to fill one out at the registration table.

For information, questions or to volunteer, please email hrohme29@gmail.com.

I look forward to seeing you on April 21st!

Hank Ohme
Program Manager, Mill Creek Nature Center

MCNC Today – March 26th, 2012

I think I saw the Easter bunny on the property today. He must be gathering eggs to hide soon.

Last week MCNC volunteer Suzy Downing sent me photos from her back yard of one of her praying mantis’ sacs. It had ruptured and hundreds of tiny praying mantis were emerging from the sac. I had never seen anything like this and thought it to be amazing to see the pictures.

Today around 1:30 p.m. I was walking the property, and believe it or not, I found a praying mantis sac myself. It looked just like the one in Suzy’s yard, and it was bursting with tiny, wiggling, crawling newly emerged praying mantis. I could have watched it all day! The diminutive creatures emerge looking more like a worm with a prominent black eye, then quickly stretch out their legs and arms and assume the praying mantis form. I thought I was watching a National Geographic TV special!!! I’ve attached a few photos for you to see.

Don’t forget our MCNC Earth Day event – Saturday, April 21, 2012. It will be from 10:00 a.m. until noon. More details will follow soon.

Come visit MCNC and witness Spring on the property!

Hank Ohme, Program Manager