To all those interested in the natural world. Please add your sightings.

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Friday, April 30, 2010

Wild Sarsaparilla, Cuckoo-flower, Cinquefoil and Thyme-Leaved Speedwell chose today to start flowering in my neighborhood while the slickly invasive tree species, Russian Olive, was bristling with tiny buds. On the wing was a small day-flying black moth with bold white wing patches; the Common spring Moth whose larval food source is the locally ubiquitous Black Locust. Black flies were also out in force whenever the breeze died.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Today I was privileged to see 2 male Wood Ducks trying to impress one female of their species while nearby a male Green-winged Teal shadowed a lone female teal. All are diminutive waterfowl, yet the males' bold and crisply delineated colors gave them a focal weight in the landscape far beyond their actual sizes.

I was driving passed Black Mountain on my way home, and I just had to stop. I walked up the mountain on this beautiful day and found more than I expected.
baneberry was about to bloom (it is called doll's eyes when it turns to seed) and trailing arbutus was in full flower. This is a picture of it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cold gusty winds, low overcast and sporadic wet snow gave a winterish feel to the West side of town today, yet Goldthread turned its tiny white flowers to the skies, and a Woodcock poked down through the leaf litter searching for the worms to be found in the April-warm soil below.
A lone mallard drake was paddling in the vernal pool near the intersection of Black Mt. Road with East-West Road. I wonder what impact he will have on the amphibian population there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Yesterday my daughter spotted a fisher crossing Day Road with a gray squirrel in its mouth. In the early evening, I spotted a deer leisurely licking salt deposits in our sand barrel.
Hemlock Wooly Adelgid was found today in Brattleboro by a young logger named Kyle. The land is located at the junction of Rice Farm Road and Black Mountain Road. I was have a grand time inspecting my logging job (it is one of the best jobs I've ever seen) and then met up with Mike who told me the bad news. Kyle had been trained by his boss Long View to detect the adelgid and noticed it when he was bucking up the tops.
So, keep on keeping your eyes out.
We don't know what the state's recommendation is for treating the area. Keep you posted.
I heard a winter wren. It makes an undulating song that lasts forever. Just cut and past this web site to hear the song. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Winter_Wren/id
Another sign of spring--the hermit thrush is singing up a storm

Thanks Cheryl- Here is a picture of garlic mustard.
Garlic mustard beginning to bloom along the roadside. Tiny white flowers atop heart-shaped scalloped leaves.

This biennial is very easy to pull. In the spirit of "practicing random acts of gardening," i pulled one out of the flower bed at the entrance to the Putney Inn.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Two butterflies that I have not seen previously this season were flying today: one a Duskywing, perhaps the Dreamy Duskywing, although I could not be absolutely certain of that identification; the other a Pine Elfin.
Any day graced by creatures with such names would almost have to be a good day - sun warmed and apple blossom scented. And, it was.
The strawberries have flowers. In my garden as I went to pull out a raspberry plant, I found a toad buried with only its face exposed. It had probably hidden in a mole hole. Ok I got to say it --it was so cute.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Today Golden Alexanders, Toothwort, and Smooth Yellow Violets were flowering in my neighborhood.
Yesterday - after walking parts of Black Mountain with The Nature Conservancy - I found a flourishing patch of Wood Betony in the parking area between Rice Farm Rd and the river. They are not yet in flower but will be soon. I had not previously found Wood Betony in this neighborhood so even though it's not a rare plant, it was fun to find.
Betony flowers can be either yellow or reddish-brown. They should be open within a few days!?!?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Broadwinged Hawks, which wintered in Central and South america, are back. a few Dwarf Ginseng and Squirrel Corn plants are in flower. The lone Painted Trillium I found today was budded, but not yet open. And a lone nighthawk leapfrogged north over me with the afternoon winds at its tail.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Today, as expected, I found a few Columbines and Miterworts in bloom. Long-spurred Violets were an unexpected bonus as were the Stem-swaddling pink flowers of Daphne - an introduced shrub which now grows wild in New England. Two deer, a partridge and a garter snake viewed my presence in the woods with varying degrees of mild alarm, and when the breezes died black flies made their presence known.

Monday, April 19, 2010





Charlie Richardson, John Evans and I walked up to the top of Prospect Hill to figure out what can be done to improve the view. The picture shows a vista that needs to be created.
At the top of the hill, both blueberries and shadbush were in bloom (The shadbush flowers when the shad are about to run). On the way down I found trout lily in bloom and this owl pellet. If you look closely you can see it is all made out of hair from the animal the owl ate. The owl spits up the pellet, and the hair doesn't have to go through its digestive system. Much easier for the owl.
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A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a Hairy Woodpecker are taking turns beating out territorial drum rolls on the aluminum ladder behind my barn. The first flowers of Wood Anemone are now opening, smooth Yellow Violets are in full flower as are Gooseberries and Currants.
Black bear announced herself will a loud crash at 10pm sniffing out the trash cans at our home on what old timers refer to as Spruce Knoll located in Dummerston near the Putney line at 1504 ft overlooking Black Mt. the West and CT Rivers. Seems to be found of compost too.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I hit the jackpot today. While in West Dummeston, I was walking with Bill Guenther, the county forester, when he spotted this intact deer antler. It's in terrific condition. I am bringing it to the Earth Day Celebration this Sunday. The fair will be in the center of town.  

It's hard to make these next two pictures out, but it is a hemlock tree ravaged by a porcupine. Only those hemlock needles must be tasty. They definitely are full of Vitamin C.
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At the highest elevations on the west side of town, the pale pink and white flowers of the evergreen ground-hugging Trailing Arbutus were liberally dusted with snow this morning.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In my neighborhood today, Large-Flowered Bellworts with their drooping pale yellow bells are in flower, as are kidney leaved buttercups, the least showy and the earliest flowering of the area's buttercups, while in the bushes, newly arrived Chipping Sparrows - despite the promise of their common name - forage in complete silence.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On the hill above West Dummerston Village, Sharp-lobed Hepatica, Carolina Spring Beauty and Wild Ginger are in flower, while down in the valley Spring Azure butterflies dance like random shards of hyper-animated sky.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


In the woods of Brattleboro, there is a disease-free beech which shows sign of another era. The hatch mark on the beech was the symbol the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) used in the 1930's to indicate that the neighboring oak had been checked for gypsy moths!
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Several times I have heard turkeys but haven't seen them as yet. Merrill
thinks it's a person pretending to be a turkey, I don't know as I haven't
seen a person either. Ruth Barton
In the woods of Guilford near Green River, I was walking on 30 acres of the most rich indicator plants. Shown here are rattlesnake plaintain (an orchid) and a new crop of ginger.
The remains of a barrel in the middle of the woods- Whiskey?
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Today, along a sunny brook, Hobblebush was in full flower while in the shade of nearby hemlocks a Louisiana Waterthrush bobbed as if perpetually preparing to leap into flight, and a few black flies added their own bittersweet flavor to the season.
Yesterday, after church, I went out to watch the activity at the fire
station. A group of "raw recruits" "learning the ropes" so to speak. I
noticed a pair of Mallards on the pond between the church and firehouse,
totally oblivious to the activity next door. Hope they stay. Ruth Barton

Monday, April 12, 2010

This afternoon at wetland on Sandhill Rd, Putney: male hooded merganser showing off his headgear - he got my attention! A belted kingfisher perched on a snag in open water.

More pictures of the day with two of the rock formation (by accident)
These picture were from Gulf Road in Brattleboro. It is located up Sunset Lake Road, turn right onto Gulf Road and at the trail is blocked for motorized vehicles. Is a marvelous area to see wildflowers. One side is a weeping wall made of calcium rich rock.
The pictures in order are Coltsfoot, red trilium , saxifrage, moss, leeks, ledge, cliff fern, Dutchman breeches, blue cohosh, tree in survival mode, miterwort and a video of the weeping wall.
I couldn't be happier.
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Today the first trout-lilies flowered in our woods, shad bush blossoms started to open, round-leaved yellow violets could be found, and a lone strawberry flower on a southern exposure gave notice of good things to come.
Today along the West River, a Kingfisher did what kingfishers do, a Mockingbird did what mockingbirds do and a duo of male Common Mergansers dove and surfaced and bobbed lightly in the current with seeming disregard for both.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

At the Dummerston Conservation Commission many sightings were reported.
Here are some of the highlights:
There were two brown bats sighted at Mary Ellen Copeland and Ed Anthes' house. Woodcocks have been seen at Miller's Orchards. They will soon be doing their mating dance.
John reported an osprey and BALD EAGLE were seen over Route 30.
Tom Johnson has an otter in his pond.
John Evans commented that tree swallows are bombing the blue birds. Those tree swallow's can be quite feisty.
Pat Jacquith saw wood ducks, a blue heron and a kingfisher in Putney
So many signs of spring.

This is a website that has a woodcock dance and instructions, too. youtube.com/watch?v=GeBevezTpx0
Red Trillium AKA Wakerobin is in flower. Both painted and snapping turtles are out of hibernation. On top of Dummerston Hill, mud season is having its last hurrah.
I went back to the vernal pool on the East-West Road and I was please to see the wood frogs eggs. There were are 20 masses and were located in a section where there was no algae. Sorry to have missed their croaking--they sound like ducks. I have written a children's story about a character named Spot who is trying to get to the vernal pool. It is called Is It Time. It is a picture book that might become a coloring book. I'm in the search of a publisher.

Marsh marigold is in the buttercup family and here is a picture of what John saw.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bluets are blooming on the lawn. Marsh-marigolds AKA cow-slips shine goldenly in the still drab swamps. And a Merlin powered north at tree top height as if afraid that the season was passing it by.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Today. the robins sung and the northern end of Miller's pond, adjacent to Miller's Orchard was absolutely full of wood frog eggs. There were scores of egg masses. I plan to check the vernal pool on the East-West Road again.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A friend in Springfield saw 12 mallards sitting in the tree outside his bathroom window :) Very precarious!
A bumble bee! Bumble bee queens overwinter as adults and start new colonies in the spring. My earliest previous sighting was on 4-13-06!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Wood frogs are raising a ruckus in the pond near Read Miller's orchard

Friday, April 2, 2010

The spiders are alive again. The orb spider that I saw glittered with rainbow colors with the afternoon sun showering light on it.
Today's great thermals and mild breezes added up to perfect raptor migration conditions. The sky was full of mile-high birds: red-tailed hawks, re-shouldered, goshawks, Coopers, sharp-shinned, peregrine, kestrel, northern harrier and the first osprey I've seen this spring.
Several days ago (late March) I crossed an enormous spotted salamander on Miller Road and also a Jefferson's. Last night there were two male woodcocks in the orchard across from Gladis Miller.
Matthew Hoffman
I heard peepers as I was driving home last night just where Upper Dummerston Rd meets Route 30 on the Dummerston end of Upper Dummerston Rd. Seems way too early, but so nice to hear.
Yesterday I went to the vernal pool on the East-West Road (just east of Black Mt. Road) and I was a little perturbed. There were no egg masses for wood frogs or salamanders. I saw only 5 wood frogs. Usually the pond is filled with them It seems that migration of salamanders should have occurred since there were several days it was warm and rainy. The pool itself is filled with algae and another brown substance which I can't identify. I'll keep my eye on the pool.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

4-1 Bloodroot is in flower! And, as a bonus, tree swallows appeared over my field for the first time this spring. I also saw a kestrel moving north, and a yellow-bellied sapsucker was around the yard all day. All this to a chorus of wood frogs and peepers, the sweet scent of red maples in flower and dry warm weather!! Life is good! John