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

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Sunday, March 31, 2013

This morning a small flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds showed up in my yard, the first I've seen this year.

Friday, March 29, 2013

     Coltsfoot (pictured) and Common Chickweed were flowering today. Both species are alien introductions, but very welcome signs of spring.
     Mourning Cloak butterflies were flying this morning. Mourning Cloaks overwinter as adults and emerge on warm spring days.
     Ruby Crowned Kinglets are moving north, feeding in trees along the West River. Kinglets are conifer specialists but these were all in deciduous trees.
     And … male Woodcock are doing their mating season sky-dance in fields near my house. The dance starts at dusk and on these moonlit nights may continue until dawn!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Beech tree

This beech tree was over 200 years old when it died, but it continues to "live on" feeding the deer.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The frantic mobbing cacophony of 6 to 8 crows alerted me to the presence of this Bald Eagle which was perched in a locust tree behind my barn, and flew seconds after I emerged from my house.


I've been walking a route around my house and I came upon a cache (a hole about the size of my boot).  When I looked close I could see a print in it with an X.  I knew then it was in the dog family.  Luckily there was urine marking the cache and when I went close I could smell skunk--Therefore it was a red fox.  There were 3 caches.  Foxes bury portions of uneaten food, and can then find them.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New, tender-looking Hobble bush leaves maintain a sort of suspended animation, waiting for warm weather to return.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Barred Owl in Broad Daylight

1:20 p.m. Barred Owl at the Bird Feeder

Waiting for lunch?

at Cheryl Wilfong's & Bill McKim's
on Partridge Road in East Dummerston

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Special snow

The snow was particularly special yesterday.  The consistency made it possible to make tunnels.  The arch made by pushing my shovel through the snow on the top of the roof was strong.  And they made themselves, too.  Unfortunately, my picture of that event didn't really capture that image.  I did take a picture from my window this morning.  Very different, too.

Monday, March 18, 2013

In optimal micro-climates the hood-like spathes of skunk cabbage stood proud above the frozen leaf litter this morning, while the thermometer registered just 11 degrees F!
Inside the spathe is a structure called a spadix on which grow the tiny creamy yellow flowers, just visible in one of these pictures.
For the skunk cabbage this is spring!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Utah Spring migration 3.17.13

Utah is on the flyway for many species of birds that winter on the western side of  American continent and migrate to the northwest for summer.  Friday we went to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, a 74,000 acre site where the Bear River empties into the Great Salt Lake.  Ice isn't entirely out, but migratory birds, anxious to start their northerly trek, have started to arrive.  A marsh at the visitor's center was fairly vibrating with strident croaking of Western Chorus frogs.   Huge numbers of stately Tundra Swans dwarfed all the others; nearly white with long black bills and black legs, they intermingled on the ice and water with Canada geese.  Ducks - Northern shovelers, Common goldeneye, Northern pintail;  Great blue herons; Coots all shared space.  Several Rough-legged hawks hunted from post-perches (they'll be leaving for the north imminently); Bald eagles chose hunting spots closer to open water.    It was hard to put down the binoculars and take up a camera--this is when those long lenses of real photographers pay off! 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

These carrion flower berries clung on the dead stalk all winter.
Both birds and mammals will feed on these berries but they are nutritionally poor; perhaps they're not a favored food?
And today I saw my first chipmunk of the season!

Today a sleek and confident appearing red fox was hunting in my fields at 9 am.
As foxes are primarily nocturnal this one's behavior led me to speculate that it might be a dog fox hunting double shifts to feed a vixen denned up somewhere with a new batch of kits!
It's that time of year.

Friday, March 15, 2013

It's spring at my house!!!
Everyone from last nights meeting should get this e-mail

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Utah spring migration

Three male Western Meadowlarks took their positions atop various perches in nearby fields and sang joyously in the warm (60 degree) sunshine this afternoon.  Presumably, their purpose was to stake claim to territory; for me, their melodious voices were spreading cheer and a glorious affirmation that I am a happy guest in their rightful environment.    Early this evening, I joined a group of 'birders' at Beus Pond, a little nature preserve in an urban center, where domestic ducks and geese are joined by their wild counterparts and more during migration.  Numerous Wood ducks, a Belted kingfisher, Spotted Towhee, Lesser goldfinch, California gull - 20 species total provided entertainment. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Utah - signs of spring

While the mountains that surround us are still white, the hills below 6000 feet are nearly bare and one distant hillside actually has the appearance of green grass coming up.  Turkey vultures have been soaring over the area for more than a week; on the two irrigation reservoirs there have been a first-year Great Blue Heron, several pairs of Common Mergansers, a Common Goldeneye, and about 30 Canada geese.  A killdeer was preening and resting at the water's edge this afternoon - first day of ice out, air temperature near 50.  Walking back to the house, this Common porcupine caught my eye.  Well-camouflaged with long blonde guard hairs, they masquerade as a bunch of dried vegetation.  Usually I see them in the canopy of hawthorn trees gnawing the bark off.  (Yes, they do have quills!) 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A small flock of grackles moved through my yard today, and a savannah sparrow foraged low in the underbrush. The spring bird migration is ramping up!

Monday, March 11, 2013

This morning a red-winged blackbird fed with the mourning doves under my bird feeders.
Early in the afternoon a red-shouldered hawk fought its way north on rather erratic winds.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Today I saw my first woodchuck of the year. Unfortunately it was road kill on Route 30 near Maple Valley.
Male woodchucks come out of their burrows with two things on their minds, one of which is a drink of water. Metabolizing fat during hibernation often leaves 'chucks desperately dehydrated. Their other imperative, of course, is to visit the burrows of all neighborhood females.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Turkey vultures are back ! ! !

Friday, March 8, 2013

Winter stoneflies (perhaps one or more of the 38 Allocapnia species?) are hatching in huge numbers, peppering snow covered rocks in and near the West River. Many that I photographed seemed to have short nonfunctional wings. Most were creeping doggedly away from the water.
Many stonefly species hatch in late winter and early spring. some are known to remain active down to 20 degrees F.
At this time of year crows spend lots of time foraging on the rocks and ledges in midstream, and I suspect that they are feeding on these hatches.
I also believe that early arriving insectivorous birds such as phoebes, when caught in spring nor'easters, are able to survive because of this cold weather bounty.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

As this day-hunting barred owl approached its perch, a red-tailed hawk dove screaming at it from above as if trying to drive it away.
Along the edges of my field it was warm and dry enough for grouse locust to be active.
And late in the day, high high overhead, a skein of 50 - 60 Canada geese powered their way north.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

This morning, looking up into the white-out snow squalls, I saw 6 seagulls heading north.
An hour later I watched a Kingfisher drift north while it hunted along the West River.