Audubon Days at Panama Rocks

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You can stay on the trails, or create any level of challenge.

“I haven’t been there in thirty years.”

I’ve heard that and similar sentiments in the last few months as I’ve mentioned Panama Rocks to friends and acquaintances. “Really?” I respond. “Then it’s time to go back.” And if you’ve never been there, yikes! You are definitely missing out.

The trail itself is rugged, rocky, or root-covered in some places, level and easy to navigate in others. Around every corner there is another breathtaking view of gigantic rocks – some covered with moss and ferns, others wrapped in the roots of trees. If there has been rain you might be treated to a Red Eft scampering across your trail.

Unlike some natural areas, at Panama Rocks you are encouraged to explore off-trail – but carefully, please. Scramble up to the top of the rocks. Squeeze through a narrow crevice called “Fat Man’s Misery.” Escape the heat of summer and enjoy the cool air that settles between the towering rock formations.

The natural beauty of the Rocks is reason enough to plan a visit any day of the summer, 10:00am through 5:00pm. But if you pick August 6th or 7th, the second annual Audubon Days at Panama Rocks, you’ll be treated to much more. We had a great time last year at the inaugural event. This year, we’ll bring back some of the popular activities and ramp it up with a few new ones.

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Tom Erlandson, retired JCC professor of geology (among other things), will be on hand to teach visitors about the history of the rocks.

General admission is $7.50, $5.00 for children aged 6-12, free for children ages 5 and under. Stop at the office to pay your fees, learn safety precautions, and sign a waiver. A portion of your fee will be donated by Panama Rocks to the Audubon Nature Center.

The two most stunning features of this natural playground are the trees and the rocks. Along the trails you may run into Dan Anderson, a retired professor from Jamestown Community College who will teach you to identify some of the trees. Tom Erlandson, also a retired JCC professor will be around another corner with the history of the rocks themselves.

New this year is an opportunity to meet live hawks and owls – up close and personal. At the end of the trail near the top there is a level area where on Saturday, August 6 from 11:00am until 3:00pm you can meet some of the live birds of prey that are cared for by Wild Spirit Education. On Sunday, August 7, Mark Baker from Eagle Dream Rehabilitation will greet you with his education birds.

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Enjoy music by Davis & Eng on Saturday from 2pm-4pm.

Davis & Eng are volunteering their time and talent to serenade you on Saturday from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. Who are Davis & Eng? Here’s an explanation from their website: “Steve Eng and Mark Davis are two longtime friends and musicians from the Jamestown, NY area. They first met in 2000 and after many years of working together in various musical projects, they teamed together in 2012 and formed the duo of Davis & Eng. Steve has vocal duties and plays acoustic and electric guitars while Mark plays the upright electric bass. They are not locked into any specific category of musical styles. Their inspiration is drawn from a variety of musical genres as they perform music from Duke Ellington to Tom Petty.” Plan to come early to explore the rocks, then spread your picnic blanket on the lawn and enjoy this wonderful musical entertainment.

Audubon staff and volunteers will be on hand with natural artifacts and plenty of literature to answer your questions about nature and the Nature Center. Also new this year, while supplies last and for an additional $10 to cover the cost of materials, you can build a wooden birdfeeder to hang at your home or give as a gift.

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After a good rain, you might be lucky enough to see a Red Eft scamper across the trail.

It doesn’t take long to speed walk the trail, but that’s no fun! Between the natural beauty and the extra activities provided by the Nature Center, you could easily spend the entire day with us. Bring a picnic, lawn chairs or blanket, and even some lawn games and plan to spend some quality time with your friends and family.

Panama Rocks is located at 11 Rock Hill Road, Panama, New York 14767. Their phone number is (716) 782‑2845 and their website is http://www.panamarocks.com/.

The Audubon Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown, New York 14701. The phone is (716) 569‑2345 and the website is http://jamestownaudubon.org.

Jennifer Schlick is program director at the Nature Center.

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Audubon Nature Center Days at Panama Rocks August 6 and 7

Mark Baker & Great Horned Owl

The Audubon Nature Center will be at scenic Panama Rocks for delightful outdoor fun and learning on Saturday and Sunday, August 6 and 7. You can make a craft and learn about the rocks and trees from experts along the trails. Depending on when you visit, you can also enjoy live music or watch a demonstration of birds of prey, like by Mark Baker of Eagle Dream Rehabilitation, pictured here with a Great Horned Owl.

Jamestown, NY – Two of the region’s premier nature showcases are joining forces to present two days of delightful outdoor fun and learning.

On Saturday and Sunday, August 6 and 7, volunteers and staff of the Audubon Nature Center will offer special opportunities at Panama Rocks, the beautiful natural playground in Panama, New York.

Visitors will be able to explore the scenic half-mile long ridge of 60-foot high rocks that form crevices, passageways, and caves hidden in an ancient forest.

Retired Jamestown Community College professors Tom Erlandson and Dan Anderson will be stationed along the trails to teach you about the rocks and trees. Visitors can also explore displays and artifacts from the Nature Center and possibly meet one or more of the Nature Center’s live animal ambassadors.

Live birds of prey – like owls and hawks – will be presented on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. by Wild Spirit Education and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. by Mark Baker of Eagle Dream Rehabilitation.

Davis & Eng will perform live music from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

While supplies last, you can build a birdfeeder for $10/kit.

Panama Rocks hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with the last admission at 4 p.m.

Come for a couple hours or bring a blanket or lawn chairs, a picnic lunch, lawn games, and plan to spend the day!

General admission is $7.50; Child (6-12), $5; Ages 5 & Under, free. A portion of your admission will be donated by Panama Rocks to the Nature Center. Additional donations to the Nature Center will be gratefully accepted.

Panama Rocks is at 11 Rock Hill Road in Panama, New York. For more information, call (716) 782-2845 or visit www.panamarocks.com.

To learn more about the Audubon Nature Center and its many programs, call (716) 569-2345 or visit www.jamestownaudubon.org.

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Interning at Audubon

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Alex DePonceau and Alicia Feraldi check kestrel nest boxes with Grounds Manager Terry LeBaron.

Nothing could explain the wave of emotion that washed over me when I found out I had been selected to be one of the Nature Education Interns at the Jamestown Audubon this summer. I had been anticipating their answer since having first heard of the opportunity and was ecstatic. The only problem was that I really had no idea what I was getting into, but I didn’t seem to care.

Sure, at my interview the basic guidelines were laid out and I pretended to understand all of my responsibilities, but I was hoping that orientation would enlighten me. On my first day I realized something that I would both love and hate about my summer job: everything was a trial by fire. When I had heard about others and their internship experiences, they talked as if “intern” was a demeaning word. All of my friends explained that their main job was to do all of the grunt and busy work that the people upstairs didn’t want to take care of. They were not given any real responsibilities or options and had no relationship with their peers. From the second I walked into the office I knew my experience would be different.

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Alicia Feraldi teaches campers about the outdoors.

That first day there were three interns, with promise of another to join us later in the week. After the first meeting we were surprised to hear that orientation would have to wait. We were sent immediately out on a discovery walk with a trained volunteer to learn how and what to teach the classes of children that piled off the school bus to be entertained by us for an hour and a half that day. It was said to pay as close attention as possible because starting as early as the next day we could be leading our own walks, solo. I watched my guide intently as she walked around with ease explaining all of the different things we passed on the trail and set up small discoveries to be made by the children on their own. I noticed how she kept the group in order as well as captivated as she leapt from topic to topic and answered even the most ridiculous questions.

Upon returning from that walk I went upstairs to the office and there our new boss sat patiently to ask how it went. We were hesitant to reply, but we finally broke the silence saying it wasn’t that bad. She replied with “Good,” then told us how we would all be leading our own walks within the next two days.  At the Audubon, interns aren’t slaves to do the bidding of others, in fact we were given almost as many responsibilities as the regular staff. From our own walks, to taking care of a hundred tiny caterpillars, to picking an individual project of our very own, we have our hands full! We spend every spare moment learning the ins and outs of the property and about the people who worked there.

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Carly Polisoto teaches campers how to use compasses.

When we finally became comfortable leading the walks we were given our next challenge, day camp. I remembered back to my interview when we had talked about the camps we would be assigned to and about some of the basic rules. However, it wasn’t until that moment that I realized that we weren’t just assisting with camps, we would be the counselors and have a dozen of our own kids to watch over each week. We would have to write and follow lesson plans, think up games and activities, and keep the campers safe at all times.

When the first day of our own camps came we were nervous, but capable. It was definitely a draining task, but when the last child went home for the day I felt a wave of accomplishment. To the children, everything is exciting and new and being at Day Camp means we can go where ever they want to explore and discover nature in unique ways. No day ever goes as planned, but we keep to a schedule the best we can. There is always some discovery we didn’t anticipate that distracts us and keeps us occupied far longer than expected. The best part is when I can sit back and watch them play in the woods or water, watch them interact, and see things all on their own. No feeling in the world beats the excitement of a child rushing to show you what they found and begging to know more about it.

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Jake Newbill works on a thank you gift for the volunteers.

When camp ends for the day we are able to return to a sort of routine. We pick up our camp’s headquarters and get ready for the next day. Then we go back to the office and think of some other task that needs to be accomplished before we go home. Normally this involves some kind of group trip to an area of the property.

From our first few days here I could tell that interns were not looked down upon and that we would be treated as a part of the Audubon family. This is especially true among all of the interns. We all get along and spend countless amounts of time helping each other with various tasks and goofing around on breaks. The hierarchy of command is a bit fuzzy for everyone has different jobs that correlate with one another. Because of this, the culture at work is fun and mostly stress free as long as everything is getting done.

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Interns playing Dead Opossum.

Being an intern at the Jamestown Audubon is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had. There is never a dull moment and every experience comes with an important lesson we teach ourselves. While it may seem crazy from the outside, we are very well prepared to deal with any situation, even if we don’t feel like it in the moment. We can take pride in knowing that the next generation of kids have learned a great deal from us, even if we are “just” interns.

Visit the Nature Center on your own to see all the fantastic goings on. It is located at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The grounds, including trails, gardens, and viewing of Liberty the Bald Eagle are open from dawn to dusk. The Nature Center is open from 10:00am until 4:30pm daily except Sundays when we open at 1:00pm.

Alicia Feraldi is a Summer Nature Education Intern at Audubon Nature Center.

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Audubon Nature Center Awards Scholarship to Taylor West

Taylor West and Sarah 2016

Lakewood, New York, resident Taylor West is the 2016 recipient of the Audubon Nature Center’s Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship. He is pictured here receiving his scholarship check from Audubon Senior Naturalist Sarah Hatfield.

Jamestown, NY – Every spring since 2003 the Audubon Nature Center Education Staff has raised scholarship funds through their Fledgling Birdathon. Participants look for as many species as possible over a 24-hour period, and generous supporters pledge an amount, either per species or in total. The end result is a $500 scholarship.

The 2016 Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to Taylor West of Lakewood, New York.

The Ryan Exline Memorial Scholarship is named the in memory of one of its early recipients, a volunteer, intern, and nature-lover who donated countless hours of time and expertise to the Audubon Nature Center. A resident of Russell, Pennsylvania, Exline died in 2008 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

Scholarship applicants must be local residents pursuing a degree in the natural sciences. Recipients must be passionate about the natural world.

The 2016 recipient attended Audubon Day Camps for many years as a camper and as a counselor-in-training. An avid fisherman, West is pursuing a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Management at Paul Smiths College. He hopes to use his degree to return to Chautauqua County and work on lake restoration.

Previous scholarship winners are Brandon Allen, Connor Clendenen, Allison Cramer, Alex Kulakowski, Elyse Johnson, Brenton Maille, Alyssa D’Alessandro, Alexa Vazquez, Tricia Bergstue, Karen Eckstrom, Bill Langworthy, Rex Everett, Ryan Exline, and Eve Gaus.

The Audubon Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. Nature Center hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sundays 1-4:30 p.m. The grounds, including trails, gardens, picnic tables, arboretum, and Liberty, the Bald Eagle, are open from dawn until dusk daily.

For more information, call (716) 569-2345 or visit www.jamestownaudubon.org.

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Learn How You Can Help Save Monarch Butterflies

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Audubon Asking for Help to Fight Water Chestnut Invasion

Water chestnut pull with boat

Volunteers have been working hard to eliminate the European Water Chestnut from the ponds at the Audubon Nature Center. More help is needed to be sure this invasive species does not choke out all the other plants and animal life there. Pulls like the one pictured began June 1.

Jamestown, NY – “We’re fighting the good fight, but we could sure use some more help!”

That’s how Audubon Nature Center President Ruth Lundin described their work in trying to eliminate the European Water Chestnut, the invasive species that can wipe out other species of aquatic plants and animals in a water body.
Water Chestnut floats on the water with a single root to the bottom. If left alone, plants grow to cover an entire pond so densely that nothing can easily navigate through them, reducing the light to the bottom and significantly impacting populations of other plants and animals.
Much of the Nature Center’s 600-acre wetland preserve is covered by a series of ponds, so there is plenty of opportunity for the Water Chestnut to take root.
Great progress was made last week when volunteers and assistants from WNY PRISM pulled plants that were intermixed with other species. Based in Buffalo, WNY PRISM – Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management — is a collaborative approach for coordinated and cooperative efforts that share and leverage limited resources.
“We’re making a lot of progress,” Lundin said, “but we’re not done yet.”
Lundin estimates it will take 18 people working 4 hours to complete the job of removing all the Water Chestnut nutlets from the entirety of Big Pond and Spatterdock Pond this year. “We can do it – with enough help!”
The Nature Center has proposed some days and times for pulling in the next couple weeks:
  • Thursday, July 14 – 1-4:30 p.m.
  • Friday, July 15 – 5:30-8 p.m.
  • Monday, July 18 – 5:30-8 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 19 – 5:30-8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 20 – 1-4:30 p.m.
  • Friday, July 22 – 5:30-8 p.m.

“We have to have at least two people to pull at one time. If we can get four people for each pull, we can call it a success, with just ‘clean up’ left to do,” Lundin explained. “If we get some more rain, we can use kayaks, but right now it is primarily a job for chest waders loading onto boats.”To volunteer, get answers to your questions, or learn more, call (716) 569-2345 during business hours, emailwaterchestnut@jamestownauduon.org, or visit www.jamestownaudubon.org and click on “Water Chestnut.”

Service clubs, church groups, Scouts, families and individuals are invited to choose times when they can volunteer. Individuals who can bring kayaks, canoes, or chest waders should mention this when signing up.
The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62, between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania.
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Audubon Nature Center’s July 30 Wild 5K Run/Walk Adds Awards Group

Wild 5K all ages

With awards now in eight age groups for both runners and walkers, a lot of participants will be taking home prizes at the Audubon Nature Center’s Wild 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, July 30, 2016. Free children’s events during the race guarantee fun for everyone.

Jamestown, NY – Whatever your age, whether you like to run or if walking is more your speed, there’s a spot for you at the Audubon Nature Center’s Wild 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, July 30.

Thanks to requests from participants, a new age group has been added to this year’s competition.  Now with a 70+ category for both walkers and runners, those 70 and older will no longer have to compete against 60-year-olds.

Prizes will be awarded to the first three overall male and female walker and runner finishers. Age group awards will be given to the top three finishers in each for runners and top finisher in each for walkers. Age groups are 12 and under, 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and 70+. The awards ceremony will begin at 10:30 for those who have finished.

While Trackqua speeds up the registration process and provides chip-timed results, you can enjoy exceptional natural beauty and help restore and preserve an incredible woodland habitat.

The 2016 event will highlight the woodlands that shade the trails.  Proceeds support protecting the Nature Center’s over 600 acres of unique habitat that decreases flooding in surrounding communities, purifies drinking water, and provides sanctuary to plants and animals of all shapes and sizes.

Check-in and same-day registration is 8-8:45 a.m., with the race beginning at 9 a.m.

Special free children’s events take place during the race.

Runners and walkers who preregister by Monday, July 18, will receive an event t-shirt. Preregistration fee is $20. The fee after July 18 or on race day is $25. Friends of the Nature Center receive a 10% discount.

To register, call (716) 569-2345 or visit www.wild5k.wordpress.com/runnerswalkers.

Event details, including the 2014 and 2015 results (on the News page), are at www.wild5k.wordpress.com.

Participants are invited to stay after their run/walk to tour the exhibits throughout the Nature Center building, browse the Blue Heron Gift Shop, and visit with Liberty, the non-releasable Bald Eagle, in her outdoor habitat.

Volunteers are still needed to staff the water station, registration, refreshment and award tables, to serve as trail cheerleaders/direction pointers from before the start to the end of the race, and to help at the finish line. To volunteer, call (716) 569-2345 or visit www.wild5k.wordpress.com/volunteer.

Event sponsors include JCC Total Fitness, Weinberg Financial Group, Warren Midtown Motors, Arcade Senior Services, and Greg Mackie Appliances.

The Audubon Nature Center is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. Hours for the building and Blue Heron Gift Shop are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-4:30 p.m. Sundays. The arboretum, gardens, picnic area, more than five miles of trails, and Liberty in her outdoor exhibit are open dawn to dusk daily. Make sure you check out the new “Kitchen Garden”!

To learn more about the Nature Center’s many programs, call (716) 569-2345 or visit www.jamestownaudubon.org.

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