Of Wood Frogs and Fairy Shrimp

IMG_8161 hike group dry summit vpI had the pleasure of taking some great hikers up into the Sawmill Hills of Florence, Massachusetts over the weekend.  We had a lot of fun!  The weather was incredible and the Hills never disappoint!  The vernal pools were dry as a bone, waiting or the fall rains and the spring runoff to once again fill up with water and become the wonderfully productive breeding pools for many organisms.  Many people on the hike shared that they never saw a fairy shrimp or wood frog.
So, I pulled together some footage I have.  Part of it was the amazing wood frog migration I ran into last spring at Mount Tom.  If you remember, we had a cold, cold winter that lasted well into April.  Well on the first sunny warm day, all, I mean all, the wood frogs on Mt. Tom warmed up and hopped to the vernal pool.  There was still ice and snow on the ground but that didn’t stop them!:

Here’s a music video I created a while back, vernal pools are just so awe-inspiring to me:

Oh by the way, visit my new photographic store on etsy:    Click Here!

Dragonflies, Damselflies, Wood Nymphs…Oh My!

I think I'm love with wood nymphs!
I think I’m love with wood nymphs!

I had the pleasure of going out looking for Dragonflies with naturalist Josh Rose as part of a Kestrel Land Trust Walk and Talk.  We had a wonderful time, loads of great critters to see and Josh was just marvelous as a guide!  Take a look at his great shirt, “Stay Calm…and let the Entomologist handle it”

Here’s some pictures too.  If you want to examine them more closely, just click on them to expand:

What is THAT!
What is THAT!
Katydid
Katydid
A Slaty Skimmer
A Slaty Skimmer
A Fragile Forktail with the two exclamation points!!
A Fragile Forktail with the two exclamation points!!
A Dogbane Leaf Beetle.  Check out its nose!
A Dogbane Leaf Beetle. Check out its nose!
An Emerald
An Emerald
A Pickerel Frog
A Pickerel Frog
An Eastern Forktail
An Eastern Forktail

 

Tracking Insects….Tracking What?!

A new beetle discovered by Charley on this Arbutus Leaf!
A new beetle discovered by Charley on this Arbutus Leaf!

I had the pleasure of hiking with Charley Eisman last weekend on a Kestrel Land Trust sponsored event.  He showed the group lots of things that we’d seen on our travels but never knew what they were.  Take a look:

httpv://youtu.be/4hUa0KK_aEk

Thanks to Peggy Hepler for inviting us onto her land, and for putting a conservation restriction on 40 acres of incredible forest in the Pelham Hills!

5K for Farmland, 2014

The Starting Line!!!
The Starting Line!!!

I had the great opportunity to take pictures and video tape this year’s 5K for Farmland sponsored by Kestrel Land Trust.  The race started on the Hadley Commons, went out into the Great Meadows with the finish line back at the Commons.  Here’s a video I put together about the event:

httpv://youtu.be/WnjCnTqOAes

There was a great farmer's market after the event.
There was a great farmer’s market after the event.

Oh What a Beautiful Morning…..Tracking Animals at Marble Brook…

tracking groupOh boy what a morning at Marble Brook for the Kestrel Land Trust Tracking Hike!  The sun was shining, the temperature was a balmy 30 degrees, and the company was excellent!  And Marble Brook, its farmland, hemlock forest, and a pond known lovingly as Mosquito Hollow, didn’t disappoint.  No mosquitoes at the hike, just lots of tracks and fun; Coyote, fox, porcupine, beaver, squirrel, fisher…The Gayette-Clapp Family wanted their forest preserved forever while still retaining ownership so they sold the development rights to Kestrel as a conservation restriction.  It is a pristine environment with exceptional habitat.  We also picked up the two remote cameras that Bill, Kay and I placed two weeks ago.

What a morning, it was made even more exceptional because The Man of the Mountain, Armand LaPalme, came out to help us track!  Also, thanks to Dave Herships for co-leading the hike,  he’s always there taking care of things.  A quick shout-out to Susan Morse of Keeping Track, who trained me to track wildlife.  What an amazing women!

Take a look at some of the morning highlights: (remember to click on the pic to enlarge):

Look at those quills!
Look at those quills!
How does porcupines make love?   Very carefully...
How do porcupines make love? Very carefully…
The porky den complete with lots of sawdust scat and qulls at the entrance.
The porky den complete with lots of sawdust scat and quills at the entrance.
On our way out, we spotted this porky out on the corn field, foraging for food.
On our way out, we spotted this porky out on the corn field, foraging for food.
Armand LaPalme helps me check out some coyote scat.
Armand LaPalme helps me check out some coyote scat.
Coyote scat.  Notice all the hair from a rabbit.
Coyote scat. Notice all the hair from a rabbit.
mouse meets coyote...
mouse meets coyote…
Yours truly showing some of the tracks we might see.
Yours truly showing some of the tracks we might see.
So much of Marble Brook is so photogenic!
So much of Marble Brook is so photogenic!
The Group was photogenic as well!
The Group was photogenic as well!
Here's Kari Blood, Kestel's Program Coordinator.  She works to pull the hikes together.
Here’s Kari Blood, Kestel’s Program Coordinator. She works to pull the hikes together.
Armand sharing a laugh with some of the hikers.
Armand sharing a laugh with some of the hikers.
Deer tracks. notice the hooves and the dew claws on the back.
Deer tracks. notice the hooves and the dew claws on the back.
Marble Brook!
Marble Brook!
Puxatawney Phil doesn't have anything on our Marble Brook Porky:  he thinks we'll have an early spring! Here's hoping...
Puxatawney Phil doesn’t have anything on our Marble Brook Porky: he thinks we’ll have an early spring! Here’s hoping…

Fun at Kestrel’s Fifth Annual 5k on the Hadley Green

runners with sign 4What an incredible day for Kestrel’s 5k!  Beautiful sunshine, crisp fall air, cool temperatures for the runners and walkers.  What a day!  Congrats to all the participants and their supporters, as well as to all the sponsors.  A special shout out to all the Kestrel Staff and Volunteers who made the day so great.  Ice cream from Cooks Farm, apple turnovers from Backyard Bakery, and just a nip of wine from Mount Warner Vineyards… it couldn’t get any better!
Here’s a video I put together.  The wonderful music is from the Ephemeral Stringband:
httpv://youtu.be/zR2dy7e3NkY
Here’s some pictures (click on them to enlarge) :

Checking in before the 5K
Checking in before the 5K
A Tribute to Juliet!
A Tribute to Juliet!
I think I'd rather ride than run!
I think I’d rather ride than run!
Runners getting ready...I hope everyone remembered to stretch...and tie their sneakers!
Runners getting ready…I hope everyone remembered to stretch…and tie their sneakers!
We also had many who walked as well.
We also had many who walked as well.
The walkers had an incredible view of the River!
The walkers had an incredible view of the River!
Two of the many winners!
Two of the many winners!
What a fun event to help preserve land in our beautiful Valley!
What a fun event to help preserve land in our beautiful Valley!

Kestrel Joins with Smith College to Protect 190 Acres

The view is spectacular!
The view is spectacular!

Hello Everyone,  Well Kestrel Land Trust did it again!  This time they partnered with Smith College to protect 190 acres in West Whately at the College’s Ada & Archibald MacLeish Field Station.  It’s purpose was to preserve important wildlife habitat and building a larger contiguous forest of protected land.  I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Kestrel Folks hiking around the property.  What an afternoon of fun people and beautiful forests and fields.  Plus we had Reid Bertone-Johnson Manager of the Field Station and Laurie Sanders, Naturalist Extraordinaire show us around!  And then we had the pleasure of the Boxcar Lillies play some music, they are dynamite!  If you haven’t seen them, you have to catch their show. And to top it off the views were out of this world.  As the teenager’s would say, well they’d text it they wouldn’t say anything…. OMG :)
As the Boxcar Lillies sing:
“Be patient with the future, time can be your friend, always take the back roads, throw the top down when you can…”

Here’s a quick introduction:
httpv://youtu.be/VdUEECcbFSE

Here is Reid talking about the chestnut research program at the Field Station: httpv://youtu.be/D-lyuPkW2Us

Here is Laurie talking about how the Berkshires were formed:httpv://youtu.be/i3wN7qbOhzU

I had to show you the incredible talent of the Boxcar Lillies: httpv://youtu.be/8YUoZjKkD7Y
httpv://youtu.be/wZGlsNCHvP4

Remember, click on any picture to enlarge:

This is what Laurie wanted to show us, a very young spotted sally!
This is what Laurie wanted to show us, a very young spotted sally!
Can you find the wood frog?
Can you find the wood frog?
Ah, there it is!
Ah, there it is!
Reid Bertone-Johnson, Manager of the Field Station
Reid Bertone-Johnson, Manager of the Field Station
Laurie Sanders
Laurie Sanders
Jonas, Chair of Kestrel with the Boxcar Lillies.
Jonas, Chair of Kestrel with the Boxcar Lillies.
The Field Station also has a state of the art classroom!
The Field Station also has a state of the art classroom!

Bobolinks, butterflies, kestrels…and conservationists…Oh My!

Barn swallows hanging out
Barn swallows hanging out

Hello Everyone, I’ve been hanging out with my friends Ann and David at the old Bri-Mar stables in Hadley, now a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge!  For all those who worked on preserving this immense piece of habitat, give them a standing ovation because it is incredible!  A shout out to Kestrel Land Trust, the Trust for Public Lands, Valley Land Fund, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Remember, click on any image to enlarge it.

Staff working on the walkways and overlooks.
Staff working on the walkways and overlooks.

The habitat is exceptional for all sorts of migratory warblers, as well as, nesting for barn swallows, bobolinks, turkeys, kestrels, blue winged warblers, baltimore orioles, coyote, deer, raccoon…the list goes on and on.  Besides the habitat, USFW has been working with the Student Conservation Association and the Youth Conservation Corp to employ staff to build an incredible path system and wildlife overlooks!

First here are a couple of short videos of the male Kestrel.  The first one shows him hover hunting, while the second one gives you a view of his nesting box.  I didn’t want to get too close and disturb them:
httpv://youtu.be/CBIPGadRiU4
httpv://youtu.be/AjyGbEjOW3M

A close up of a kestrel.
A close up of a kestrel.

 

 

 

The Kestrel on his nesting box.
The Kestrel on his nesting box.

Here’s a baltimore oriole visiting its nest in the middle of a very windy morning!
httpv://youtu.be/m4F2QcQ_cr4

 

 

A great look at a viceroy butterfly.  I know it looks like a monarch but check it out.viceroy 2
httpv://youtu.be/aKfmJ4HJiSI

Ever see a turkey up a tree?  Don’t forget to look up sometimes, you never know what you’ll see at the Refuge!
httpv://youtu.be/VxFsc05oLBc

And of course, maybe my favorite, the bobolinks.  The preservation efforts have protected extensive grassland habitat (in decline in the US) for red-winged blackbirds, as well as my bobbies!

You talking to me!?
You talking to me!?
A good look at its profile!
A good look at its profile!
A back view of a bobby!
A back view of a bobby!

httpv://youtu.be/ZxguQS_eltA

 

National Wildlife Refuge!
National Wildlife Refuge!

Here’s some pictures of the walkway and overlooks under construction.  What an incredible conservation effort by all the organizations involved, as well as the volunteers and staff who are building this walkway access!  Bravo!

Walkway
Walkway
an overlook
an overlook
A great viewing boardwalk.
A great viewing boardwalk.

Happy Migratory Bird Day!!! oh and Happy Mother’s Day!

I had the pleasure of going out on a hike with Dave King at the Alexandra Dawson Conservation Area on the Connecticut River.   The birding walk was sponsored by Kestrel Land Trust and organized by their very own Ann Kearns.  Dave was a great guide as we walked along the dike in Hadley.  By the end, I think we saw over 20 species including song sparrows, yellow warblers,  a rose breasted grosbeak, and a wonderful look at a common yellow throat!  Here’s a video of Dave talking about Kestrels:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNt-lJpFPjQ

Click on the pics to enlarge, take a look:

A common yellow throat that is anything but common!
Now I know why they’re called rose breasted grosbeak!
A fun group of birders!
All the way from Baltimore…a beautiful oriole!
a very cute mourning dove
The river in shades of pastels!