Nature Notes from Common Ground

Week of April 19, 2021

Garter Snakes!

In the last few weeks, garter snakes have emerged from hibernation in communal dens - inside logs, under rocks, or in other small, protected spaces. Males emerge first, about two weeks before females do. They need some time to warm up and get ready for mating. During this time, some males will actually excrete female pheromones, in an attempt to trick other males into trying to mate with them! The male (pretending to be a female) receives the other snake’s warmth and warms up faster. This allows him to be better prepared when the females emerge and increases his chance of successful mating.

When female garter snakes emerge from their den, the males are ready and waiting for them. Tim and Flannery were lucky enough to see two garter snakes mating in the blueberry bushes here at Common Ground this week, so hopefully we will have some baby snakes in the fall! After 2-3 months, female garter snakes give birth to live young, rather than laying eggs as many reptiles do. Garter snakes are born between July and October and between 10 and 40 babies are born at a time. The babies generally stay near their mother for a few hours to a few days, but she does not provide any sort of parental protection and support.


Nature activity of the week

Soil Survey

Did you know there are tons of critters living in the soil beneath your feet?

We usually just think of it as dirt. But soil is one of the richest habitats there is - soil contains more living organisms than there are people on earth! Of course, much of this life is so tiny we'd need a microscope to see it, but some critters are big enough to see with the naked eye. Today we'll explore the soil to see what we can find.

You'll need: a shovel, two boxes (such as a shoebox), a damp paper towel, and a small patch of soil.

Click here for instructions!


Weekly Video

Learning from Home (at Night) - Peepers


Hike of the Week

Mondo Ponds & Beaver Brook Trails

Each week we share a family-friendly hike or outdoor adventure. Click here to visit Mondo Ponds & Beaver Brook Trails in Milford!



Virtual School Gardens Tour

Curious what school gardens look like? Looking for inspiration for your own school (or home) garden? Check out the Coast to Coast Virtual School Gardens Tour on April 27!


Chicks and Chickens!

Learn about chickens and bring home some fuzzy friends! Cheep cheep!
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About this series

Our programs for children at Common Ground are place based, hands on, and focus on community, friendship, and nature-based learning and play.

In this time of virtual learning and social distancing, we seek to support teachers and families in getting outside in safe and healthy ways. We hope this series provides content and activities to help your students or your family engage in nature-based learning, whether you are learning in person or virtually.

Some of the funding we rely on to keep Nature Notes free comes from the Robert F. Schumann Foundation and The Claire C. Bennitt Watershed Fund, established by the South Central CT Regional Water Authority.