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Berkshire Natural History Conference- What a Gem!

I had the pleasure of attending and videotaping the morning sessions of the 3rd Annual Berkshire Natural History Conference at Berkshire Community College.  What a gem!  Listen to this line-up, Tom Tyning answering the question Who Was Ralph Hoffmann?, Julie Richburg giving a tour of The Trustees’ Reservations and their Natural Communities, Bob Leverett giving us his top 8 Great Trees, Joe Kravitz exploring Global Climate Change in the Berkshires, and Jim Cardoza celebrating the Great American Turkey Success!  Yehaa!  Take a look down below for each of the videos:

Tom Tyning:

Julie Richburg

Bob Leverett

Joe Kravitz

Jim Cardoza

 

My Early Fall trip to the Cape

A snowy zen...
A snowy zen…

So I was hoping that, like last year, I’d see the hundreds of tree swallows feasting on the waxy bay berries.  But alas, the bay berries were still intact. BUT I did get to see hundreds of very cute surf scoters (colorful bills and white dots on the back of their heads), white-winged scoters (white eye liner), black scoters (all in black), and eiders fishing off of High Head.  Scoter is pronounced like voters.    Here is the video of the scoters, my video from last year, and some pictures from this year.

Last year’s video visit:

Scooters...
Scoters…
Scooters!
Scoters!
Shadows lengthening...
Shadows lengthening…
Hatches Harbor
Hatches Harbor
A great blue heron fishing on the salt marsh.
A great blue heron fishing on the salt marsh.
The old Chatham lifeguard station at Race Point.
The old Chatham lifeguard station at Race Point.
Clouds on the Moors,
Clouds on the Moors,
An iconic picture of the cape...a cormorant and seagull.
An iconic picture of the cape…a cormorant and seagull.

 

 

 

 

A Walk on the Wild Side… well maybe not so wild but pretty cool!

IMG_9510 groupI had the great pleasure of going out on another butterfly walk with the great butterfliers, Tom Gagnon and Bill Bonner.  We visited the Northampton Community Gardens on Burt’s Pitt Road.  Wow, what a day.  Tom and Bill led a fantastic walk through the Gardens, sponsored by the Massachusetts Butterfly Club.   Take a look (click on any picture to enlarge):

This fiery skipper was spectacular!
This fiery skipper was spectacular!
I think I'm in love! This buckeye just stole my heart!
I think I’m in love! This buckeye just stole my heart!
This variegated fritillary caught everyone by suprise. Look at it posing for the camera...
This variegated fritillary caught everyone by suprise. Look at it posing for the camera…
This painted lady was showing off.
This painted lady was showing off.
Wow!
Wow!
We found a glob of bird poop. Nope, this is the caterpillar for the giant swallowtail.
We found a glob of bird poop. Nope, this is the caterpillar for the giant swallowtail.
This one has its osmateria out. It emits a very smelly odor to deter predators.
This one has its osmateria out. It emits a very smelly odor to deter predators.
They then go into a chrysalis until spring...
They then go into a chrysalis until spring…
And with one of the most incredible miracles in nature, emerges as a beautiful butterfly.
And with one of the most incredible miracles in nature, emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

giant swallowtail from above

Just a Taste of the Mt. Tom Bio Blitz

IMG_9296 serenity before the survey
A bit of serenity before the start.

Here’s just some pictures of the Bio Blitz on Mt. Tom.  I’ll put up a couple of videos in the next few days.

We first had to measure the timber rattlesnake.
We first had to measure the timber rattlesnake.
IMG_9341 rattlesnake eye
The snake was encouraged into a tube to protect everyone.
IMG_9357 green frog
A green frog in the previous wave pool.
IMG_9371 american copper butterfly
An American Copper.
IMG_9377 white-tailed deer
A white-tailed deer.
A meta morph spotted salamader.
A meta morph spotted salamader.
A very small finger clam.
A very small finger clam.
A black racer.
A black racer.
And birder...always looking up!
And birders…always looking up!

Immature Little Blue Heron Shows us its Fishing Technique

IMG_8363 three lillies bestI had the pleasure of watching an immature little blue heron fish at Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area.  Little Blues almost never get this far north and when they do, they are usually only found along the coast.  What a treat!  And it posed for some get pictures as well.  Click on images to enlarge.

IMG_8365 very close straight on copyIMG_8350 copyIMG_8317 leaningIMG_8309 leftIMG_8365 very close straight on copy

Fitzgerald Lake Butterflies!

An endangered Dion Skipper
An endangered Dion Skipper

I celebrated a beautiful morning on the 4th of July at Fitzgerald Lake with Butterfly Club of Western Massachusetts.  Led by Tom and Bill, we went out looking for the Dion Skipper, an endangered butterfly here in Massachusetts.  It can be found on marsh milkweed, especially on the dam.  Success, we found a beautiful specimen hanging out right where they thought it would be.  But along the way, we saw an Appalachian brown, great spangled fritillaries, a monarch butterfly and a caterpillar, and a silver spotted skipper.  As we were leaving, a red admiral showed up on the parking lot to add to the fireworks of the morning!  Remember, if you click on a picture it will expand it:

The group at the dam.
The group at the dam.
The appalachian brown
The appalachian brown
A monarch caterpillar
A monarch caterpillar
A female monarch
A female monarch
a silver spotted skipper
a silver spotted skipper
Another picture of a dion skipper
Another picture of a dion skipper
A great spangled fritillary
A great spangled fritillary
two frits side by side!
two frits side by side!
A red admiral guarding the parking lot...
A red admiral guarding the parking lot…
A splash of fireworks to end the hike!  Thanks Tom and Bill!
A splash of fireworks to end the hike! Thanks Tom and Bill!

 

Things are looking up, its Spring! But also look down!

Look down because there are wonderful early spring wildflowers just asking to be admired!  Take a look, and remember, click the image to enlarge…

Spring Beauty is a cute little flower that ranges from white to almost purple. Native americans cooked their roots like a potatoe
Spring Beauty is a cute little flower that ranges from white to almost purple. Native americans cooked their roots like a potatoe
IMG_5578 spring beauty grove
A grove of Spring beauties.
IMG_5585 spring beauty group
Spring beauty
IMG_5577 spring beauty
Spring beauty
IMG_5406 hepatica
And then there is the incredible hepatica!
IMG_5384 hepatica 2
Hepatica
IMG_5382 hepatica
Hepatica. Click on this image and zoom in!
IMG_5396 hepatica grove
a hepatica grove
IMG_5399 blood root
The blood root catches everyone’s eye!
IMG_5387 blood root with leaves as a jacket
Doesn’t it look like the blood root is using its leaves as a coat?
IMG_5389 blood root grove
A grove of blood root. Sap from the roots is blood red in color. Native americans would use the sap as war paint or to dye baskets.
Blood root keeping warm...
Blood root keeping warm…

Tracking Trees! What?

A yellow birch.
A yellow birch.

I had the pleasure of going out on a hike with my good friend and fellow nature nerd, Michael Wojtech, author of BARK!  Since there wasn’t fresh snow for tracking animals, we decided to track trees!  Its not a simple as it sounds.  They may not move very quickly, well not at all, but there are so many kinds! He gave me a quick tutorial on how to identify four of the many trees we were seeing.  Take a look:

The crackling of a sugar maple, almost like crackling in old china.
The crackling of a sugar maple, almost like crackling in old china.
a yellow birch with its horizontal ridges called lenticels.
a yellow birch with its horizontal ridges called lenticels.
The smoooth bark of the American Beech.
The smoooth bark of the American Beech.
A white ash, notice the intersecting ridges creating diamonds!
A white ash, notice the intersecting ridges creating diamonds!