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Nocturnal nature

Night hike through Dolliver a different perspective

October 2, 2012
By EMILIE NELSON-JENSON ( , Messenger News

LEHIGH - Hikers who came out for the night hike at Dolliver Memorial State Park got a few lessons on nocturnal nature Monday evening.

"We don't see like nocturnal animals see," Erin Ford, a shared Webster County Conservation/Department of Natural Resources naturalist told hikers. "Animals have more rods in their eyes, we have more cones."

To prove that statement, the 15 hikers attending put their night vision skills to the test when the sun had nearly set. Ford handed each of them a crayon and piece of paper to write what color they thought they may have had after carefully examining them in the twilight.

Article Photos

Luke Battcher, right, and his son Aidan Battcher, 9, of Fort Dodge, try out the disappearing thumb trick while they particpated in the night hike at Dolliver Memorial State Park Monday evening.

"Humans are basically colorblind at night," Ford said.

Dennis Keck was almost certain he could tell what color he had, until looking at the paper under a flashlight, which revealed the word "red" written in blue crayon.

"I thought for sure it was red," Keck said.

Keck, a retired science teacher, made the night hike a family activity, bringing his grandson, Michael Oberg, along to learn a few new nature facts.

"We like doing science things together," said Keck. "This is our first night hike but we've been out and done the butterfly tagging before."

Another lesson which impressed some of the younger hikers was the disappearing finger trick. After sunset, Ford had them hold out their thumbs until it seemed as if they had disappeared.

"If you hold it out and stare at it, your thumb will disappear," Ford said. "The cones in our eyes make it so we can't see. It takes about 45 minutes for our eyes to adjust to the dark."

Aidan Battcher, 9, was especially impressed by the disappearing thumb, giving it a try several times as the night became darker.

"He's loving it so far," his dad, Luke Battcher, said.



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