We went yesterday afternoon to the Heard Natural Science Center, a quiet nature walk park fifteen minutes from us. Yesterday they were having a "special day" (so special that our annual membership did not cover the cost of admission). The wildlife festival featured a number of booths and live "shows". We sat, along with dozens of children, to watch the Fort Worth Zoo animal demonstration. The snake, a Louisiana timber snake, patiently let the children hold its tail. The South African penguin looked very at home. The macaw actually enjoyed the attention, although he kept saying "Barbara!" instead of "Hi!". The kinkajou had wide, curious eyes, and hung from the zoo keeper with his prehensile tail.
The bearcat from southeast Asia ran around, a bit agitated, so that his handler had to put him back into his "nocturnal" box.
I liked the way that the some children would "rush" the stage, overtaken with longing to touch a particular animal, reminding me of nothing so much as people who jump on stage during rock concerts, desperate to hug the performer.
We stopped by the booths for the various groups there. The Dallas Master Naturalist group had two enthusiastic volunteers telling us about nature projects their group does in the Dallas area.
One told of her long-suffering husband, who drove across the city to a local nursery for her, to get a particular type of pipevine desired by rapacious caterpillars in her yard. Love hath no measure so deep and broad as a spouse willing to indulge a hobbyist. I learned at another exhibit that I should be using steel sinkers, not lead, for environmental reasons, whenever I fish. Two artists displayed their wares. Although both were good, I could tell that the crowd was more a "rush the stage to touch a kinkajou" crowd than a "buy art with uplifting bohemian messages" type of crowd".
We talked to the man who carves birds out of wood. His carved kestrel was remarkably life-like. We also spoke to the fellows who raise bees for a hobby, and bought a bit of local honey. I always think that unprocessed local honey is the very best.
We took a walk down one of the park trails. The park sits in creek bottoms, so its trails are much more heavily wooded than most of our area. We had gone about 2/3 of the way down the trail, when a Heard volunteer and three people she was touring were stopped in front of us. It turned out they were stopped by a poisonous snake.
A copperhead lay just off the wooden boardwalk trail. He was very colorful, looking much more "copper" than I expected, as in my mind they had a more grayish cast. A friend pointed out later that he would in such a case be called a "grayhead". The copperhead was not aggressive, and did not hiss or coil, but he also did not crawl away. After watching him for a few moments, we turned around and headed back.
He was an interesting addition to our day.
We finished that visit with a peek at the nature photography in the Heard display room. The Heard has had some unfortunate press lately, when an employment disagreement resultedin its only two licensed bird handlers, leaving, causing an unwanted hiatus in its raptor rescue program. Also, the Heard apparently runs a large operating deficit these days (indeed, the deficit sounds larger than the entire operating budget should be, to my naive ears). So I'm glad they ran a fund-raising function, and I hope they do more.
I like these things like simple educational festivals. I wish we had more in our area.