Preschool Explorers sing out Konk-A-Ree at Muddy Creek Headwaters

Reflections by Naturalist & Walk Leader Andrea Higgins
Photos courtesy of HCT Volunteer Photographer Gerry Beetham

Abundant sunshine, bright blue skies, and temperatures in the 40s greeted Explorers and their families this morning as we gathered on the benches overlooking the wildflower field at Muddy Creek Headwaters Preserve. While soaking up the sunshine, we admired bluebirds flitting about, pausing to inspect several wooden bird boxes installed for nesting. Looks like these beauties are looking for real estate in Harwich!

After chatting about our plans for the day, we scampered down to our reading and art mats set up in the middle of the meadow. I shared some information about red-winged blackbirds, including their “Konk-A-Ree” call, followed up by a reading of The Little Book of Backyard Bird Songs by Andrea Pinnington & Caz Buckingham. This introduction to birding includes recorded calls from several bird species. We listened to the red-winged blackbirds’ song several times before practicing the call ourselves.

Our discussion of the habitat that our bird-of-the-day calls home included topics like phragmites (aka common reed) and marshes. Next, each child was handed a paint brush, a small dish with a dab of black, red, and yellow paint, and a small wooden bird. Our artists got busy straight away painting their birds black and adorning the shoulders with a bright red and yellow band. Once painted, preschoolers attached their masterpieces to a small bunch of reeds. How wonderful to see the delight on each child’s face as they proudly displayed their creation!

Time to set out on the trails to notice and admire all the wonders nature provides. We first paused to greet and introduce ourselves to a small young oak tree. Some mommies hugged the tree, shook the leaves and branches as a greeting, and a few young Explorers kissed the sapling. We also introduced ourselves to several pines and a cherry tree further down the path. Together we discovered pinecones and acorn caps, some of which went into youngsters’ pockets as they planned their show-and-tell with the rest of their family members when they got home.

Climbing up on the bench with a view of the sparkling Muddy Creek, we noticed ducks swimming along the winding river. I read Dear Little One by Nina Laden. This is one of my all-time favorite children’s books written as a sweet love note from Mother Nature to its readers. Celebrating the wonders of the world, this reassuring picture book shares the joy, love, and beauty found in each and every day. It is a stunning ode to the beauty of nature.

Our wonder wander continued as we followed the trail towards the creek pausing again to look and listen. We could hear red-winged blackbirds calling in the distance and we once again sang out our rendition of the bird’s call… “Konk-A-Ree!” Sauntering along we came to a patch of moss and gave the velvety green growth a pat. Some Explorers and one mommy even decided to take a moss nap, stretching out on the trail on the soft green patch under the incredibly blue, cloudless sky.

Feeling refreshed after our little nap, we continued along to the edge of the marsh and climbed up on a fallen tree. We pretended we were riding on the back of a giant red-winged blackbird that took us soaring up and over the marsh grasses and across the surface of the sparkling waters. One Explorer requested we call to the red-winged blackbirds and after a “1,2,3” we all sang out once again in our loudest voices “Konk-A-Ree!”

Each Explorer wore a giant smile as we let our imaginations take us up, up and away, high above the sun-kissed treetops above the spectacular Muddy Creek Preserve!

What a wonderful adventure. I am already looking forward to our next gathering.

Happy Exploring!


Ms. Andrea