Getting Schooled lesson date: May 26, 2020 Host: Dawn Perez Topic: Virtual Trail Scavenger Hunt! Description of lesson: Are you ready for this interactive …
Hi everybody! Thanks for joining me today for this recording.
My name is Dawn Perez and i'm one of the Education Specialists at the Solid Waste Authority of
Palm Beach County in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Today we're going to be focusing on our trail system and doing a virtual scavenger hunt, which is going to be
so much fun! But before we get started, let's learn a little bit about the Solid Waste Authority.
So the Solid Waste Authority is a local government agency that was established in 1975
to manage all of Palm Beach County's waste.
That would include your garbage, your recycling, your biosolids and your home chemicals.
Now, we have a very large county. We are the largest area wise in Florida and we're the third largest
population wise in Florida. We have about 1.4 million people that live in Palm Beach County and on average,
each one of us makes about 12 pounds of solid waste per day.
So if we do that math, if we take the 1.4 million people and multiply it by 12 pounds, at the
Solid Waste Authority, we get almost 17 million pounds of solid waste per day. Seventeen million pounds!
Wooh! That's a lot!
And that would be a football field piled up to about 27 feet high, which is almost as high as the goal posts.
So we have to be very efficient about how we process and manage that waste and a lot of our programs over
the week will go into little snippets of how we do that at all our facilities.
But today we're going to be focusing on, again, our trail system and we're going to be doing a virtual trail tour.
So before we do that virtual trail tour, let's talk a little bit about animal evidence.
How do we know animals have been there?
Well, we might see things like animal tracks. We might see things like feather left behind. We might see things
like half eaten pine cones or something like that.
We might even see scat, which is animal poop, which tells us a lot.
So today while we're doing this video and participating, try to keep those in mind and see if you can find
some animal evidence. Alright.
Now we're going to get started, but before we go out on our trail system, we need a couple of things, right?
So the first thing we're going to need is a hat, because it gets hot and we want to shade our face from the sun.
So let's see what kind of hats I have today.
What about this one? What do you guys
think?
Nah, too titanic!
Oooh, what about this one?
Well it's nice, but it's definitely too hot out for this one. Not really trail material.
Ah! What about my handy dandy visor?
Yeah, let's use this!
Alrighty. So now I have my hat, but I need
a few other things if I'm going to go out on the trail, right?
I need sunscreen. I need some bug spray and I need my water.
Alright. So now that we've got all our materials, are you guys ready?
We're going to get started and do our virtual trail scavenger hunt! Yay!
Let's go!
Alrighty. So let's see what we're going to find on our trails.
Welcome to our Greenway Trail System! And I already see a piece of evidence here.
Look at that. That's a bird feather, probably from one of our egrets.
Oh. And that, there. That looks like an
armadillo hole. Yeah, they dig for bugs and insects
that they eat.
Oh! And that's one of my favorite little insects we have on our trails. That's called a Lubber and I love Lubbers!
And that's a baby Lubber, so when they're babies, they're really tiny. They're black with a yellow stripe, but
as they become juveniles, or teenagers,
they get a brownish color and they have an
orange stripe. And then when they're adults, they're a couple inches long and they're a mixture of green, yellow
and orange.
Alright. What else are you seeing here?
Well, that's another armadillo hole. Looks like there's been a lot of digging here.
Here we are and we see some footprints! Can anybody guess what this is from?
These are actually animal tracks from raccoons and we have a lot of raccoons at the Solid Waste Authority.
This is their natural habitat. They are around. We do find their scat and they eat a lot of berries and things
like that.
Here we have some more bird feathers. Oh, a lot of bird feathers.
We're finding them all around. I hope a bird didn't get attacked on our trails by a predator, of course.
That's probably another feather to one
of our egrets.
Oh man! And even more feathers. Maybe some birds got into a fight over food. It happens.
Let's see what else we can find.
There are a lot of feathers here.
We're going to continue along our path.
And I see, out of the corner of my eye, some scat or poop.
Now look at that poop. Take a close look. What kind of animal do you think it came from?
That almost looks like my cat's poop at home. And if you thought it was some kind of cat, you're right.
We have bobcats on our trail. That is bobcat scat and bobcats like to eat things like marsh rabbits
and squirrels. So usually, if you find this scat and it's fresh, you'll find a little bit of fur in the scat, which let's us
know that.
Alright. What else do we have here?
I'm seeing some more animal tracks and if you look closely, it looks like cats again.
So these are bobcat tracks. Okay.
They typically hunt at dusk, when the sun goes down, or dawn, when the sun's coming up.
And so this bobcat was probably out at that time looking for a meal.
They are part of the lynx family, by the
way, which is pretty neat.
And they're about two times the size of domestic cats.
Now, here's another type of animal track here.
We have white-tailed deer on our trails and we've seen males, females. We've even seen a pregnant female.
And we've seen a baby fawn. So that's pretty neat.
Definitely check out our trail cameras if you haven't seen that.
Alright. Let's look here.
We've got some more footprints. Looks like maybe a mixture of bobcat and deer.
Oh some more deer.
Oh and look at that, on the left hand side. I see some ant hills. Be careful when you're out on our trails.
Don't step on those, because the ants will bite and they hurt.
Yeah, so we're going to avoid those.
Oh, I see some more fresh tracks.
Looks like some more raccoons and also deer.
Alright. Let's continue.
Now we're in our Cypress Hammock or our Cypress Swamp.
So we have cypress trees surrounding us.
And let's see. I think in the distance I see some kind of raptor or bird of prey.
Oh let's get a closer look.
Look at that beautiful bird!
Okay, that is definitely some kind of hawk. Either a Red shouldered hawk or a Cooper's hawk.
Look at that beak. Nice and sharp. And those big eyes.
And this hawk is definitely watching us!
I'm surprised all these little birds are around, because one of the things they do eat are other birds.
Besides rodents and frogs and things like that.
Oh my gosh! One of my favorite animals!
We have a Florida box turtle.
Look at how cute it is!
So these box turtles are named that, because when they pull into their shell, they do look like a box.
Let's take a closer look.
Now, these box turtles, they're typically found in forests, swamps and marshes.
And they eat a lot of different insects, like slugs, earthworms, beetles, crickets.
They also love berries, moss and mushrooms.
And here we have… some more bobcat scat, mmm-hmm.
But let's take a look and see if we can find anything else.
Ooh! That looks a little different.
And so does this. Does anybody know what kind of scat this is? Who does this scat come from?
Well, this scat comes from an American alligator.
So we do have American alligators on our trails and they have such good digestion systems that when you
see their scat, there's really not much in there. The only thing you'll typically find are maybe some bones.
But everything else has been broken down.
And here, what do we see?
We have some baby American alligators!
Look at them. They're so cute! They're probably only under a year old and they have those stripes so that they
can blend in or camouflage with the grasses.
But where there's babies, there's definitely mama. She is nearby.
Oh! And I think I just spotted mama off to the side.
Now she looks like she's hanging out in one of her alligator holes, which she's dug in the soil
and during dry season, this is great because this is where she goes to cool off.
And it also provides a home for other animals that would live in the water during this time in our marsh.
So they're an apex predator in this ecosystem and they're also a keystone species.
which means that if they were to disappear, it would drastically change the ecosystem and the ecosystem
could even collapse.
And here's a nice view of our freshwater marsh.
Let's see what else we can find.
We're panning back to mama alligator, but I also see around us some Pickerel weed, which are those purple
flowers. And you'll notice we have a lot of grasses.
So the marsh is made up of grass.
Alright. Now we're on the move and we're going to look for some more animal evidence.
Oh! What is that on the leaf?
That's a green anole. That's a Florida native and I haven't seen one of these in a while.
They can either be green or they can turn themselves brown. They're great at camouflaging, as you can see.
And the males have a throat pouch and when they feel threatened by another male for their territory,
they will actually flash their throat pouch, or their dewlap, out and it's a red color.
They also do it to attractive a mate.
Oh look! We found a pig frog!
A pig frog is known for making sounds like a pig. :::::pig noise:::::
They kind of sound like that, okay.
And of course they're going to eat insects and flies and things in the marsh.
They are a Florida native.
Oh and look at this beauty!
This is a black racer.
Now, if you look closely at the head here, you'll notice it has a small head.
This is a non-venomous snake.
So, snakes can either be venomous or not
venomous, okay. And that means, venomous means,
that they have fangs that can inject a toxin or venom into you.
Whereas, poisonous means that you have to either eat it or brush against it to have a reaction or get the toxins
in you.
But, this snake is safe. This is a non-venomous snake.
So what it does when it catches its prey is it constricts it or squeezes it. Okay.
So that smaller head lets us know that it doesn't have fangs in there and it's not venomous, because it would
have a much bigger, broader head if it were venomous.
Now it's named black racer because, of course, it's very, very fast, okay.
So that is where it gets its name from.
Alright. So.
Thank you very much for watching today.
I hope you had fun during our virtual scavenger hunt and you learned a lot about animal evidence.
Just to remind you, we do have recordings like this every day, Monday through Friday, at 11 AM.
Sometimes they're on Adobe Connect, other times they're on Facebook Live.
So if you'd like to look up our upcoming schedules or see any of the recordings that you've missed, you can always
go to our website at swa.org/Education
And if you'd like to see any other critters that inhabit our trails, you can always go to our trail website
where we have our trail camera videos. We post those every month.
And that would be swa.org/Trails
Thanks again for tuning in! Have a great
day.
And I hope you fell in love with nature and our trail system.
Bye.

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