Students track down bird prints on Onset Bay

Jan 23, 2023

There was still snow on the sand of Onset Beach on Tuesday, Jan. 17, when a group of intrepid young explorers searched the beach for the animals who call it home during the winter months. 

The scavenger hunt was one of the Onset Bay Center’s bimonthly educational play groups, hosted in collaboration with the Wareham Public Schools Office of Beyond School Time.

“Our plan is to create more access to the Bay all year round,” said Onset Bay Center Manager Angela Weldon. “The Beach and the Bay are really great places to learn and play, not only in the summertime.”

Weldon read the book “Animals in Winter” to the kids, then conducted an activity to teach them which animals hibernate, migrate or adapt to cold weather.

“It’s fun to learn about where the animals go and how they survive and adapt,” Weldon said. “A lot of the people who come to the Center are local, so we like to teach them about their environment and their bay.”

After the activity, everyone bundled up and went on the beach to find animal tracks, which mostly belonged to seagulls. Weldon taught the kids how to mix plaster with ocean water and pour it onto the tracks, which would then harden and create a cast for them to take home. 

“You know what other animal I find a lot?” Weldon said. “People. I find a lot of people tracks. If you happen to find a human print that you think is pretty special, you can cast that.” 

Two-year-old Lucas Davis got his orange snowsuit a bit messy with plaster. 

Six-year-old Maximus Baptista was more excited about finding an empty crab shell than finding a print to cast.

“Something must have ated the legs,” he said. 

His older brother Vincent, 7, found a big piece of driftwood. 

Maximus and Vincent are the grandsons of Jane Fondulis, director of the Office of Beyond School Time.

“I’m learning at the same time,” Fondulis said as she watched Vincent and Maximus make casts with their brothers Tiberius, 4, and Barron, 2.

The event was not only intended to teach kids about nature, but social awareness, relationship building and unstructured outdoor play as well.

“Maybe we have some future marine biologists here,” Weldon said, “but maybe we just have children who love being outside and love to play. And both those options are great.”