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

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Saturday, November 26, 2011

11.26.11 This morning I noticed a large circle of new wood chips on the snow underneath a poplar tree in the woods near my house. While I leaned against a nearby maple tree looking at the work, movement caught my attention. A little brown creeper spiraled up the poplar, stopped to check each of the holes the pileated woodpecker had made, then continued its spiral upward. It dropped to the ground and thoroughly inspected the wood chips as well, then went back to spiral up the tree again.
Farther along my walk, the mahogany color of this quivering Jelly leaf fungus (Tremella foliacea) glistened in the early sun.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

11-23 Old Puzzle - New Clues
After an overnight snowstorm on Dec.,30,1998 I found over 100 cutworms atop the fresh snow covering my back lawn. The following night temperatures dropped to -8 degrees Fahrenheit. Even after laying atop the snow at sub-zero temperatures these worms were capable of thawing out and resuming normal activity after just half an hour inside!
This morning the snow on my lawn was once again peppered with cutworms. Well over 100 of them. Perhaps Winter Cutworms AKA Snow Earthworms (Noctua Pronuba) which may stay active and feed even under the snow.
Winter cutworms were first introduced from europe into Nova Scotia. They were first seen in Vermont in 1989.
Winter cutworms or, as I prefer, Snow cutworms are the larvae of the Large Yellow Underwing moth.
My identification of these as Snow Cutworms is tentative at best, and I was a little hesitant to share anything about which I'm so uncertain. But, I now (after 13 years) have pictures of the worms... atop the snow!
If not Snow Cutworms, what? And why?
(One of the accompanying pictures is of a worm on the snow. The other was taken inside.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Frostweed lives up to its name, extruding feathery frost confections from its winter sere stem.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chickweed is green, healthy and in flower. It will stay green under the winter snows and resume flowering next spring at the earliest opportunity.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The dark metallic blue Short-winged Blister Beetle feigns death if disturbed, falling on its side and exuding droplets of blister-causing fluids from its leg joints.
Adult Short-winged Blister Beetles eat herbaceous foliage. Larvae are parasitic on bees.
I find these beetles in the fall along woodland paths and trails.

American Larch (Tamarack) is the only conifer that loses all of its needles every year. The inch-long needles grow in tufts along the branches. All summer, Tamaracks blend into the landscape with other conifers, but at this time of year the needles change to golden yellow and for a brief time, they really stand out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rapping, rapping - first on the back wall, then on the roof; finally a little downy woodpecker came into view where he'd been testing the resonance of his drumming on a vacated bird house; when no bird came out the front door, in went the downy - to try out the sound from inside! This house provided shelter to tree swallows that raised two broods this summer. Perhaps this little bird was auditioning the house as a winter shelter.

In a nearby field, Golden Alexanders makes one last - seemingly out of season - attempt at flowering. I expect to find Alexanders flowering late spring and early summer. Finding one in November seems a bit incongruous ... but, there it is.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

White Clematis (aka Virgin's Bower) unfurls its feathery seed plumes to the fall winds.

Monday, November 7, 2011

One of the hearty and ubiquitous Sulphur Butterflies warmed to the midday sun in my field today.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I have two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, one juvenile and one female visiting my suet feeders.
For the last several years Sapsuckers have over-wintered in my neighborhood, although historically the northern extreme of their winter range was Massachusetts.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

11.03.11 In spite of recent wintery weather, these Ravenel's Stinkhorns seem to be continuing to develop at the base of a decaying maple tree. The pinkish round structure is the first above-ground appearance of this fungus from its mycelial tissue - "rootlets". The cap, on its spongy-looking white stalk pushes out of the volva; spores are dispersed through the white-ringed opening in the cap. Usually, the odor rouses my awareness to their presence before I see them; in today's cold temperature, that was not so.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

As the snow melts, dandelions are opening; half a dozen brightened my lawn today.