During this warm Southern California spring, when it’s not entirely too hot to be outside, we enjoy nature walks. One of our favorite places to visit is Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary. We’ve been going there since Big B was little. Every time we go, the kids always marvel at something new.
I decided to take Little B during a weekday instead of our usual weekend visits. Just a note, if you decide to go on a weekday, call ahead first. If there is a field trip, you will have to wait until the group is done to enter most of the sanctuary. We enjoyed the short nature trail just next to the science center since it was the only thing opened to us while a field trip was there. It really was a good thing because it was Little B’s first time exploring that little area. We saw a lot of native plants, cute little flowers, signs with facts, and little creepy crawlers. I am not sure who was more entertained, Little B or me.
We finally entered the sanctuary (after taking a snack break) and Little B beelined for the tortoise area. Unfortunately, Henry wasn’t there that day. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time I saw any tortoise in the sanctuary. I hope they are all okay. The boys really do enjoy watching them. As per our usual routine, we stopped by the pond next. We saw koi, frogs, and turtles. Visitors can find many different animals at Tucker. We usually encounter a squirrel on one of the pathways, hear a variety of birds (we rarely see them as they are hiding from the very excited and loud kids), and see some insects flying by.
Along the way, there are opportunities to bird watch. Tucker Wildlife works to preserve the natural habitat of local birds. As much as the kids want to see birds, they just can’t sit long enough, or quiet enough, at the bird porch. The bird porch is a nice shaded area, so definitely a place to stop for a while and cool off during those warmer days. During this visit, I actually saw a hummingbird flying by. Of course, it took notice of us and left. In other previous visits, we’ve seen a woodpecker and other birds I don’t recognize in various locations of the sanctuary. According to the website, over 98 species of birds visit Tucker annually.
One of my favorite things at Tucker is walking through the sensory garden. I very much enjoy seeing native plants, especially the prickly pear cacti. As you can see below, they are quite massive and form a wall taller than Little B. I try to point out all the different types of plants to the kids. Some days they are engaged and some days they are not. That day, Little B was not. We then stopped by the amphitheater because the boys love to go up and down the tiered seats. It’s also a nice place to sit back and just look around at the mountainside, the creek, listen to birds, and be still even for a few minutes.
Our last stop was the Natural Science Center. It’s nice because by the time we finish with the outdoor exploration, it usually gets hot and the center is air conditioned. We had the center all to ourselves that day, well, most days we usually do anyway. The science center offers a different way to explore nature. It really allows visitors to get up close and personal with wildlife. There are so many hands-on activities that are fun for kids and adults. I seriously learn something new every time I visit.
Little B would not budge from the microscopes. It’s probably because he didn’t have his big brother shoving him off of one. He just kept putting slide after slide under the scope to see them enlarged on the monitor. He also opened every drawer in the center. Most of the time he didn’t bother seeing what was in them, he just liked to pull the drawer. He did find some of them intriguing enough to give pause. He especially liked the butterfly drawer. He also enjoyed seeing some of the live animals on display. There are a variety of amphibians and insects visitors can observe at the science center.
There are many ways to connect with nature such as through books, films, and the outdoors. Some days we prefer books, and others – like when it’s raining – we prefer to cuddle and watch a movie. However, nothing beats being out in the open and seeing, touching, and exploring nature. We have been to other sanctuaries in Orange County. It’s one of our favorite places to visit.
How to you like to connect with nature?