Two nature walks in March kick off a series of six treks scheduled this spring on the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation.
Participants will be able to observe the American woodcock and birds of prey in the Freels Bend area Saturday March 4 before a second walk Saturday, March 11 focuses on winter tree identification.
The March 4 walk from 4:30 until 7:30 p.m. will enable walkers to see American woodcock flight displays as the sun sets and perhaps hear some other night animals calling. Local falconers and personnel from the Clinch River Raptor Center will also be on hand to show some of their birds of prey and how they hunt. Leaders will be Vincent Pontello of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Katie Cottrell from the raptor center.
The walk is about half a mile over trails not overly steep. Wearing sturdy shoes and dressing in layers is recommended. A reliable flashlight or headlamp is suggested as some of the walk is at dusk or after sunset. It is recommended walkers should bring water, binoculars, a field guide to birds and bug spray, if needed. The walk is limited to 30 participants, including children. Service animals are permitted, but must remain under the control of the owner at all times.
Participants will meet at 4:30 p.m. on the south side of the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) building at the corner of Bethel Valley and Pumphouse roads. If inclement weather forces a postponement, it will be announced on ORNL Information Line, 574-9836, at least two hours before the walk. The alternate date is Sunday, March 5.
The winter tree identification walk March 11 will last from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and include both a classroom session and trek. Participants will meet at 9 a.m. in the Scarboro Road guardhouse north of the Y-12 National Security Complex to learn about woody twigs. The walk will follow in the Freels Bend area over level dirt roads, although some off-trail hiking of about two miles may be required. Field manuals and hand-held magnifiers will be provided. Participants should bring water and bug spray, if needed. The walk is limited to 15 with high school students the minimum age. Service animals are permitted, but must remain under the control of the owner at all times.
Other spring nature walks are scheduled Saturday, April 23, Saturday, April 29, Friday, May 19 and Sunday, June 4 with details to be announced.