We recently had the chance to visit the Buena Vista Audubon Society Nature Center and learn about the fun and educational events and programs happening this summer. Natalie Shapiro from BVAS was kind enough to share some extra information with the Visit Oceanside community about educational opportunities, so take a look at what’s coming up at BVAS!
Educational Opportunities at the BVAS Nature Center
The BVAS Nature Center, located on the edge of the Buena Vista Lagoon, is a great place for families to learn about the local fauna and flora of Southern California’s only fresh-water lagoon. Trained docents help with the learning process.
You may not know this but BVAS has its own taxidermist. Over the years, the taxidermist has created a collection of displays of various songbirds, birds of prey, ducks, terns, pelicans and many other birds, as well as mammals, that live in the Buena Vista Lagoon and the areas surrounding it. All of these animals are indigenous to the area. Children and adults alike learn how to identify the birds they see around the lagoon through these displays, and learn also about the amazing biodiversity of the lagoon.
A new educational tool is BVAS’ high powered microscope, which magnifies the tiny life in lagoon water on a TV screen attached to the scope. Our docents collect water and aquatic insects from the lagoon, and then place a sample under the scope; this is one of the most popular things to do at the nature center! This hands-on learning shows participants that the lagoon is full of life, and helps them understand how important the lagoon is for the web of life. The tiny aquatic insects and shrimp are important food for fish and birds. The lagoon has amazing diversity; we have counted about 15 different species of aquatic insects, fish, and crustaceans that live in the lagoon!
Other displays explain what wetlands and lagoons are, and why they are important (for example, less than 5% of the original coastal wetlands remain, and they are important stopping areas for migrating birds). Then visitors can walk on our quarter-mile long trail around a small portion of the lagoon and experience the wetlands and lagoon. Here they see cattails and other plants adapted to being inundated in water most of the year, mysterious bubbles coming up from the bottom of the lagoon (bacteria digesting algae), and tiny creatures that love lagoon water. Families can pause at two wooden docks by the lagoon, and with some patience, can spot tadpoles, mosquito fish, crayfish, aquatic insects, birds, fish, frogs, and turtles.
The nature center also offers free guided tours year-round for anybody interested in learning details about this amazing place.
Thank you to guest blogger, Natalie Shapiro of Buena Vista Audubon Society, for writing this piece.