Friday, July 17, 2015

Oak Hammock Marsh

We couldn't wait for school to end this spring because two days after the boys finished Pre-K, second and fourth grades we were on our way to Winnipeg, Manitoba!

Why Winnipeg, you ask? Don't worry. Even the people in Winnipeg asked why we came to Winnipeg. We went to see the opening rounds of the FIFA Women's World Cup, of course. But more on that later.

But we couldn't stay in Winnipeg because all of the hotels in that city were sold out, so we stayed in a little town called Gimli and learned a ton about Canada and Iceland. Bonus! Staying outside of the city turned out to be a real win for us because we explored more of the southern part of the province than I think we would have otherwise.

One of the highlights of our adventures was to Oak Hammock Marsh. This environmental center was a delight! We timed our visit to the afternoon when the school field trips were done. Even though our kids were done school, kids in Manitoba had to wait until June 30.

The marsh was so lovely and peaceful. There's nothing like the expanse of a prairie to make you feel both insignificant and part of a larger whole. It seems so empty from a distance, but when you pause and watch carefully there is a lot of learn from the bustling life of a marsh.


From the observation station on the roof, we watched muskrats swim.
 

Inside the interpretive center, we observed the tiniest water bugs.



On our hike through the marsh we made friends with the fiesty ground squirrels!


And we even shared a meal with some hungry local salamanders.


Though we eventually had to flee from the mosquitos who wanted to make a meal out of us, we really loved our visit to Oak Hammock. It is known as a birding hotspot and we saw an incredible variety of birds. Our boys were inspired to design soccer uniforms based on bird colorations (always with the soccer). We also spotted a small leopard frog and an interesting spider. We learned about duck nest tunnels, how to tell female ticks from male ticks, and how to eat wood rose petals! 

This marsh is part of the Red River ecosystem and protecting the prairie is an important part of their mission. On our hike, we came across the sign highlighting other parts of the prairie. I wish all informational signs were written with this voice - it just made me want to come back and explore Oak Hammock even more!