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

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Thursday, February 28, 2013

The first sharp-shinned hawk I've seen around my neighborhood in several months was hunting feeder birds in my yard this morning.
As sharpies are dimorphic, the small size of this bird  means that it's probably a male.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Utah - Wintering Eagles

     Today the local Audubon chapter made its annual Eagle count starting at  Larry's Spring Chicken Inn for a hearty breakfast before heading out in a driving snowstorm.  We observed 4 Golden eagles (my first) and at least 6 Bald eagles;  at a club member's feeders we observed Common Redpolls, Hoary Redpolls, and an Oregon Junco.  An American Dipper entertained briefly as it skittered along a fast-flowing shallow stream.  Deteriorating road conditions and consistent snow and wind cut short the trip which is scheduled at this time of year to take advantage of the eagles' presence before many migrate north for summer.  The immature Golden eagle pictured was feeding on some remains in a sheep pasture; the Bald eagle, along with a few others, was perched high over an open stream.


Any guess as to is happening?  No it's not urine.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Utah - Ring-necked Duck

       A lone male Ring-necked duck has been bobbing along on a small neighborhood pond for the past two days.  These ducks winter somewhat south of Utah and summer mostly in Canada.  I made this duck's acquaintance when it took a migratory break on the Retreat Meadows in Brattleboro a few years ago.   According to Sibley, it is named for a dark brown ring at the base of the neck; I have learned to look for the white ring on its bill as visual marker that is much more evident.  Maybe this means winter is nearly over?  Present conditions make me doubtful!

The lone Red-tailed hawk that has wintered in my neighborhood is now sharing its territory … perhaps with its mate?
And on the West River a pair of Hooded Mergansers kept company with a female Common Merganser.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2-20 This morning I found a cricket atop the snow, frozen. As it was wingless I knew that it was not an adult. Crickets moult through as many as 8 -10 wingless instars before reaching winged maturity.
However, there are many species of "ground" and "field" crickets and precise identification requires a lot of esoteric knowledge. I didn't expect to be able to precisely identify this specimen, but it seemed determined to be properly named: as soon as I brought it into the house it revived! Many crickets at this latitude overwinter only as eggs. Adults and nymphs are killed by cold. Overwintering as a nymph is noteworthy. Freezing solid and then reviving is both a good trick and a possible clue.
It seems that there are 2 distinct species of the common black field cricket. One species overwinters as eggs in the soil. That species - responsible for the late summer chorus - is active in summer and fall. The other possibly overlooked species overwinters in a nymphal stage and is active in the spring and early summer. These two cricket species are physically identical! They behave identically! They sing identically! Only the appearance separates the two species.
So, my guess is that the frozen cricket nymph I found on the snow is the spring species of common field cricket. It looks like a black field cricket and it survived freezing as a nymph. So …
Now the only question I have is how did it end up atop the late Feb. snow pack?

Friday, February 15, 2013

The 8 inch diameter hemlock this porcupine was feeding on along Camp Arden Rd had just 3 branches left. In the porky's world the tree is winter food and winter is not yet over.
Just down the road in the direct sunlight Pussy Willows sensed that winter is over - or nearly so - and they poised themselves for the new season to come.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Late this morning a subadult Bald Eagle worked north up the West River valley.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This morning there was a song sparrow huddled in the brush along the West River.
Although song sparrows are listed as year round residents of the area, I never see them until late winter or early spring.
Song sparrows are early to return to this neighborhood, early to claim territories and early to sing in defense of that territory. I see them among the first signs of spring.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Nineteen turkeys visit our Dwarf Cherry trees as the blizzard of February 2013 is just starting. Betsy

Friday, February 8, 2013

Early today, as 35 or 40 Mourning Doves took full advantage of the bird sees I'd scattered in my driveway, one overly frisky male dove advertised his availability from the treetops with his mournful and repetitive cooing.
Today's weather may say winter to us, but at least one dove is already anticipating spring … although his advertising elicited no noticeable response.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

While looking for - and finding - Hemlock Woolly Adelgid along Quarry Road I spotted this adult Bald Eagle cruising north over the West River.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

This morning before daylight a raccoon cleaned up under my bird feeders. A skunk also came by, unseen but not unscented!