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

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Smelled my first skunk on the East-West Road Friday morning, just as the snow was beginning.

Does that mean they have woken up from their winter nap and are mating?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2-23 Last Friday the temp spiked briefly up to 58 degrees F. on my thermometer. Those few hours of warmth changed a bird feeder dynamic which had held since Oct.
All winter two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers had frequented my suet feeders: one juvenile and one adult female. And the juvenile always dominated, driving the adult away from the feeders. The adult only fed if and when the juvenile was either sated or absent. (Perhaps a mother deferring to her young?)
Since last Friday I have seen both sapsuckers foraging on apple and soft maple trees, but not at my feeders. And, this morning, with the temp. at 1 degree above zero I watched the adult female drive the juvenile away from the vicinity of the feeders. Every time the juvenile flew toward a suet feeder and tried to land, the adult dove into its flight path and herded it away.
Apparently the adult female now claims the feeders as part of her nesting territory. And apparently last Friday's warmth triggered that territoriality in her.
The newly dominant adult female will - along with her as yet absent mate - spend many weeks chiseling out a nest cavity in which she will lay her eggs this April.
Establishing a territory is the first step toward the great spring reproductive pulse. For sapsuckers here in my yard that season started last Friday afternoon. I seldom see such tipping points so neatly delineated... although they probably are. Our powers of observation are not geared to such subtleties. John

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Despite the wintry temperatures, there were skink tracks in the dusting of new snow on my front walk this morning.

Four degrees this morning by my thermometer, but a chipmunk was awake and active, scurrying across Green Mtn. Camp Rd.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yesterday was warm enough to start a raccoon wandering. It filled its belly with suet and sunflower seed at my bird feeders early last night.
This morning eight turkeys, all bearded, spent half an hour gleaning spilled seed under the feeders. Come warmer weather, competition for hens will make them less tolerant of each other.
Yellow-bellied sapsuckers - regulars at my suet feeders for the last several frigid weeks - foraged on nearby apple and soft maple trees and totally ignored the easy but unnatural pickings at the feeders.
I was following the tracks of a fisher- surprisingly it was not bounding but walking- when I came upon a hollow circle (sort of an oval) in the snow. I'd never seen this before, but I think I found where a fisher had been sleeping.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Today a pair of Hooded Merganser rested on the ice next to a meandering channel of open water in the center of the West River. Minutes after I spotted them, they flew north up the valley.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This morning a Mourning Dove called persistently from a tree near my yard. It was the first sign of the lengthening days that I'd heard from the doves.
About 40 Cedar Waxwings clustered in the top of an old apple tree - all of them facing the quadrant of the sky where the sun should have been, yet to my senses the overcast blocked any of the sun's warmth from reaching them
And, in the sumac patch near the river, Robins fed on the hard fuzzy seeds.
As a bonus, a Pileated Woodpecker made a few appearances around my neighborhood. I had not seen a pileated in months. I'm sure they were around - as was I - yet we hadn't crossed paths for a while.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

This morning there was a Song Sparrow deep in a multiflora rose tangle near Camp Arden Rd.
Song sparrows are known to occasionally winter this far north, but usually I don't see them during the winter. They are, however, always among the earliest to show up in the spring.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Driving to the Overflow Shelter at 12:30 a.m., i followed a fox on the East-West Road for about 300 yards. Running 20 mph.

He turned in at the Veterinary Clinic. Going to visit some friends?