Spring Break: Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

For Day 3 of our Spring Break Fun we went on a nature hike at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve.  I think the last time we were here was for a Family Bike Ride.  I used to take the kids here a lot when they were younger and we had more free time.  Rachel was about 2 years old when we enjoyed the Fall Colors at Arbor Hills.

The terrain here is interesting.   The creek and erosion have worn away the land but I wonder how much of that steep cut was caused by nature or man with some big machinery?

Nicholas and one of his best buddies.  They have been friends since they were itty bitty.  My heart is happy watching these two guys grow up together.

I love the color of redbud blooms, especially against the other bushes that are still so barren and dull colored.

I think these are bradford pear blooms but I haven't seem them in such a pretty pink before so I'm not sure.

We found a Prickly Pear that was starting to bloom.

I think this is Camassia, otherwise known as wild hyacinth.

The kids eventually found a way down to the creek.  I was hoping that they wouldn't get wet until we were at the end of our hike because it was a little chilly but it turned out to be a great spot to explore.

Along the cliff wall that we climb down to get into the creek, there is a horizontal section that is composed of thousands of thin, flat rocks.

It is curious looking to me and I want to know what happened during that time to form such an interesting looking texture in the soil?

This reflection caught my eye.  You can see the rocks of the earth covered in water then on top of that is the reflection of a canopy of trees and above that is sky and clouds.  So beautiful in its on way.

 Some of us explored down to the bridge and back.

But some of our group didn't want to get their feet wet and walking on the rocks was a bit tricky in spots.

So the kids decided to build a raised walking path to help the rest of the group get to the other side of the creek.  They gathered the largest rocks and laid them out in a line to form the path.

Some of the rocks were really big and heavy!

But they did a great job with their building project.  They were little engineers at work!

Rachel never has minded getting her feet soaked though.  She had to look back at me and smile because she knows I'm ok with getting wet and having fun.

We found this hole under the side of the creek bank.  It was a short hole in that it didn't go very far back but I'm sure many creatures have sought refuge there from time to time.

We found some fungus growing on this rotting old tree.

As we headed out of the creek and reached the top of the bank, someone pointed out a giant moth on the other side of the creek.  Do you see it?

Nicholas and a friend crossed the creek to catch the moth in a net so we could get a closer look at it.

Look at how beautiful it is!  Notice what looks like eyes on the hind wings.  That's how you can tell it is a polyphemus moth.  It gets its name from a Greek myth about a cyclops named Polyphemus.

I was impressed that all of the kids, of varying ages, understood how to be gentle with the moth.

Just look at how big it is!  It's wing span is about as wide as Rachel's two hands put together! I've never seen a moth this big in real life!

I'm not sure what kind of spider this is but it may be a Steatoda or "false black widow".  Please leave a comment below if you know what it is.

Rachel found a snail shell.

And there was a cool hole dug in the ground for some kind of an animal hole.  The girls poked sticks in it.

Rachel loves her Camelbak backpack.  It holds a plastic water bladder so she can drink from the tubing anytime she wants without having to hold a water bottle in her hands.

My friend pointed out this piece of root from an osage orange tree that was sticking out of the ground.  I was already familiar with the osage orange tree but I did not know that their roots are actually orange!

More bradford pear blooms.  What a sweet little flower.

Although we were out to enjoy nature, the kids still took delight in watching this front-end loader drive by them on the sidewalk.  There is some construction work being done in the park so they also got to watch a cement truck.

We counted rings on this pruned tree branch.

This area has more of the layered compacted rocks.  It looks like it is a hill that was cut through to make the concrete path.  The rocks and textures along the walls are always interesting to look at.

We were done with our nature hike so I told the kids they could go play in the creek before we headed home.  They like this particular spot where they can get in beside a bridge.

Rachel rolled up her pants legs and looked back at me with that smile that says, "I'm going to get REALLY wet!"

She found several interesting rocks to study.

Isn't this the best classroom a child could ever have?

I could sit out here all day.  This is our Spring Break week but we often put book work aside during the spring when the weather is just perfect like this.  There's no place I'd rather be than out in the great outdoors.

Nicholas brought a small net and was looking for fish to catch.  It was pretty shallow but he was determined.

Meanwhile, Rachel is getting wet and muddy!

We found some raccoon tracks in the soft soil.

I love that my children are right in their element here.

Nicholas found a spot with several fish swimming around.  He caught a nice blue gill and another kind of fish but I didn't get to him in time to take a picture.

They found something that they said looked like a crawfish walking around this rock.  They lifted the rock to try to catch him but he was gone.

Nicholas' third catch of the day with his net.  It's his smallest catch but at least I caught it on the camera.

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is one of our favorite places to go on nature hikes.  It is located at 6701 Parker Road in Plano.  There are dirt and concrete trails, a bathroom, and a playground.  It is particularly interesting because there are three types of ecoregions in this one place: Blackland Prairie, Riparian Forest, and Upland Forest.

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