This first report of the week is brought to you by Elsa and Brayden from St. Mary's Catholic School in Alexandria. 

During our trip to Long Lake Conservation Center from October third through the fifth, we had late summer weather with all the beautiful changes of Autumn. The trees are approaching peak color, with Red Maple leaves 100 percent red with leaves falling. Tamaracks in the bog are only about 5 percent yellow and the Pitcher Plants are just starting to turn dark red. Some of our group found a few cranberries, but there are not a lot left.

Our group saw lots of snakes and several blue-spotted salamanders, including a baby one. Garter and Redbelly Snakes were seen, including one that was swimming in the lake. There was an unconfirmed report of a Hognose Snake. The naturalists said that there has not been a sighting of a Hognose at Long Lake, so they are going to keep their eyes open. We saw a lot of does and fawns, but no bucks. It appears that they are starting to get their winter coats. On the lake, we observed a few Coots.

This second report of the week is brought to you by Eme, Mike and students from St. Joe's Rosemount 

During our trip to Long Lake Conservation Center from October fifth through the seventh, we had the arrival of Autumn weather. The trees are at peak color and were absolutely beautiful. Our group saw quite a few Garter snakes on the trails. Asters are still blooming, and we saw a few bees. Colorful mushrooms were a highlight of our trip. We saw Blue Stain Fungi which is carried by Bark Beetles and can be found around dead trees. It’s a pretty blue color. We also saw Wood or Purple Blewit Mushrooms. They are purple and are actually edible, but don’t have a very distinct flavor. Colorful mushrooms, who knew? Our favorite mushroom was the Puff Ball. We loved puffing them. During Astronomy, we saw the bands Jupiter and its four visible moons. The moon was at perigee, the closest it will be to Earth this year, and we got a good look at it. In the woods, Winterberry and Kinnikinnik or Red Bearberry Bushes are both full of berries. Kinnikinnik Berries are edible, but flavorless. The Ojibwe relied on these as a food source because they last all year. Despite the colder weather, the spring peepers and wood frogs were quite abundant and active. It’s peak autumn colors - a beautiful time to explore the world. 

Great job! Keep Exploring!