Tracking at Marble Brook

IMG_4427 bobcat
Bobcat prints before we entered Marble Brook! Notice the asymmetrical toes and the heel pad with two lobes on the top and three on the bottom. Nice!

IMG_4436 group on the trailI knew it was going to be a great day when we spotted bobcat tracks before we even got to the trail!  Plus a river otter slide as we crossed the bridge.  Then, 10 feet in, we saw great tracks of a porcupine going from a hemlock tree to its den in a culvert.  Over the course of the morning, we saw Deer, turkey, bobcat, and coyote tracks!  And the weather was just stunning!  Thanks everyone for a great hike!  It was sponsored by Kestrel Land Trust.  Below are some pictures, click on them to enlarge:

A bobcat track before we even got to Marble Brook!  Notice the asymmetrical toes with a forward lead toe (Catitude) and the heel pad with two lobes on the front and three lobes on the back.
A bobcat track before we even got to Marble Brook! Notice the asymmetrical toes with a forward lead toe (Catitude) and the heel pad with two lobes on the front and three lobes on the back.
IMG_4429 river otter slide
Here is a river otter slide below the bridge.
IMG_4430 porcupine den
A porcupine den
IMG_4431 turkey
Turkey track.
IMG_4432 group on the field
We found turkey and deer tracks all over the cornfield!
IMG_4435 deer
Here’s a deer track.
IMG_4437 coyote
A coyote track. You may be able to just make out the X in the middle. This is the negative space created by the symmetrical two front and two side toes. Plus the claws are apparent. Remember X marks the spot, Spot marks the X.
IMG_4438 marble brook
Marble Brook!
IMG_4441 raccoon
A racoon track near where I put my remote camera. They kinda look like human feet.
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I was hoping to get pictures of river otter. These are their slides heading down to the brook.
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Scientists have found that river otters are such effective hunters that they only have to hunt 5% of their time. Which leaves 95% of their time to play! In my next life, I want to come back as a river otter!
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Well, the only pictures I got from my remote camera was this curious raccoon.

Coming Soon: On the Plains of the Serengeti…of Florence!

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An eight point buck was hit by a car on Ryan Road so I set up my remote camera.  I’ll be working on a Nature Nerds Short on Bobcats!  The video will focus on the natural history and give tips on tracking.  Remember, click on any of the images to enlarge, Enjoy!
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Doesn’t this one look like a female lion on the Serengeti Plains!?
Always on guard!
Always on guard!
A coyote stopped by for a meal.
A coyote stopped by for a meal.
But interestingly, the bobcat was more dominant than even this large coyote and drove it away!
But interestingly, the bobcat was more dominant than even this large coyote and drove it away!
I love the black and white backs of its ears! I wonder why these colors evolved when everything else is designed to camouflage?
I love the black and white backs of its ears! I wonder why these colors evolved when everything else is designed to camouflage?
Bobcats have extra rods on their retina's with an added layer of reflective cells to increase depth perception in the dark. That's why their eyes glow from this infra-red camera. Did you know that bobcats are color-blind? They can only sees shades of gray!
Bobcats have extra rods on their retina’s with an added layer of reflective cells to increase depth perception in the dark. That’s why their eyes glow from this infra-red camera. Did you know that bobcats are color-blind? They can only sees shades of gray! I love their black-tipped bobbed tail (hence their name).

 

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!

Butterflies are still Flyin’

IMG_5163 groupI ran into my friend Tom Gagnon at the Northampton Community Gardens as he was leading a Butterfly Walk sponsored by the Arcadia Sanctuary of Mass Audubon.  So I tagged along since any time out in the field with Tom is a wonderful trip!  And gosh were the butterlies a flyin’!     Remember, to enlarge the picture, just click on it.

First up, the Ocola skipper.  Tom thinks this may be the first siting of it in Massachusetts this year.
First up, the Ocola skipper. Tom thinks this may be the first siting of it in Massachusetts this year.
Here is the very subtle but very fabulous Dusted Skipper.
Here is the very subtle but very fabulous Dusted Skipper.
Here's another skipper, very small, called a Pecks Skipper.  Also sometimes called a yellow patch skipper.
Here’s another skipper, very small, called a Peck’s Skipper. Also sometimes called a yellow patch skipper. Roughly one third of all butterflies in North American belong to the Skipper family!
Another view of our Peck's Skipper.
Another view of our Peck’s Skipper.
IMG_5130 least skipper
Here’s a least skipper. I think if I was a “least” skipper, I’d go by my greek name: Ancyloxypha numitor!
Probably my favorite of the Day, The American Lady.  The two eye spots on the underside of the wing is what distinguishes it  from a Painted Lady which has four spots.
Probably my favorite of the Day, The American Lady. The two eye spots on the underside of the wing is what distinguishes it from a Painted Lady which has four spots.
Here is the American Lady when its open.
Here is the American Lady when its open.

And here is the striking American Copper.  It belongs to the Gossamer Winged Family!  Very cute!
And here is the striking American Copper. It belongs to the Gossamer Winged Family! Very cute!
IMG_5161 yellow tiger tail
Here’s an Eastern tiger swallowtail, showing off for the camera!
Show off all you want baby!!!
Show off all you want baby!!!
Just as large and stunning is the Swallowtail, the Eastern tailed blue is diminutive (as small as a dime) but if you can catch a glimpse, it too is eye-catching!
Just as large and stunning is the Swallowtail, the Eastern tailed blue is diminutive (as small as a dime) but if you can catch a glimpse, it too is eye-catching!
These wonderful butterfiles actually have 3 generations within one summer in Massachusetts.  Third generation caterpillars then over winter, often in pods of plants.
These wonderful butterflies actually have 3 generations within one summer in Massachusetts. Third generation caterpillars then over winter, often in pods of plants.
Here's a clouded sulfur.  You can see them bebopping all over the gardens, very restless.
Here’s a clouded sulfur. You can see them bebopping all over the gardens, very restless.
Another butterfly we all see around is the cabbage white.  Cool eyes!
Another butterfly we all see around is the cabbage white. Cool eyes!
What I think is the best name for a butterfly:  The Great Spangled Fritillary!  This one is a bit beaten up from the summer but still showy!
What I think is the best name for a butterfly: The Great Spangled Fritillary! This one is a bit beaten up from the summer but still showy!
and of course, royalty,  The Monarch of the garden made an appearance right at the end...
and of course, royalty, The Monarch of the garden made an appearance right at the end…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Butterflies Galore!

group under a treeI had the pleasure of going on a butterfly walk with one of the best butterfliers around, and by around I mean the country!  Tom Gagnon took us out on the Bullit Reservation, part of the Trustees of Reservations.  Ah the butterflies we saw were amazing!  Here’s a tawny edged skipper drinking nectar with its proboscis:

and a mother spider with her young:

Here are some pictures as well, remember, click on them to enlarge:

Our fearless leader- into the meadow we go!
Our fearless leader- into the meadow we go!
The wood nymph's were all over this morning.
The wood nymph’s were all over this morning.

 

Even making woopee right in front of us!
Even making woopee right in front of us!
Beautiful Baltimore butterflies...
Beautiful Baltimore butterflies…

baltimore open behind goodbaltimore open 3

Clouded sulfurs were abundant as well.
Clouded sulfurs were abundant as well.

Group w tom

One of my favorites was the pearl crescent!
One of my favorites was the pearl crescent!

pearl crescent 2 close

Lots of different kinds of FRitillaries.  This one is a great spangled.
Lots of different kinds of FRitillaries. This one is a great spangled.
This one is a meadow Fritillary.
This one is a meadow Fritillary.
And of course the eye-catching black swallowtail...
And of course the eye-catching black swallowtail…
Here's a side view.
Here’s a side view.
And lastly an american copper.
And lastly an american copper.
And an american copper on a hawk weed flower.
And an american copper on a hawk weed flower.
Tom also showed us a wonderful orchid, a ragged edged orchid!
Tom also showed us a wonderful orchid, a ragged fringed orchid!

ragged edge orchid close

 

 

Lastly, I love this shot of a baltimore from behind.  Take a look at the orange at the end of its antennae!
Lastly, I love this shot of a baltimore from behind. Take a look at the orange at the end of its antennae!

 

 

 

 

 

The Peregrines have Fledged!

peregrine fledling profileHello everyone,  Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ve been out in the field gathering footage for my new web series,  The Nature Nerds.  The first one will be on Vernal Pools with Brandon Abbott and Molly Hale as the guest Nature Nerds!  I’m in the editing process right now but I had to post some of my pictures and video of the Peregrine fledglings at the Calvin Coolidge Bridge (My next Nature Nerds is Falcons of the Connecticut River Valley).  They’re still calling for their parents to feed them and they’re very active at times, flying all over the place, hanging out on the bridge structures, sitting above bicyclists on the bike path bridge.  In colonial times, they were known as duck hawks because of their size but I may have another reason, I got film footage of a fledgling taking a swim in the Connecticut!

Click on the pics to enlarge:

Drying off after the swim!
Drying off after the swim!

 

Very handsome..
Very handsome..
Trying out the new wings!
Just stretching…
And actually using the new wings!
And actually using the new wings!
Those people of those wheels look awfully tasty...
Those people look awfully tasty…
Maybe I'll just have a robin, those people look too much of a problem...
Nah, maybe I’ll just have a starling for lunch…

Trade in your snow shovels for Northern Shovelers!

Northern Shovelers taking a nap!
Northern Shovelers taking a nap! Click on the pic to enlarge.

Well instead of a quick nibbly at Panera, my friend Ann and I went to the small watering hole across from the horse barns at UMass to see a group of Northern Shovelers.  I’ve never seen them before.  Wow.  They are named appropriately, their bills are huge! They could have helped me shovel all the snow this winter!  It looks like they’re just passing through to the north central states and Western Canada to breed.  These dabbling ducks are sometimes referred to as spoonbill or “spoony” because of the large spatula-like bill.  It has over a 100 projections called lamellae along the edges to strain the water for food particles.
And then, right across the road were a huge number of killdear and wilson snipes!  I thought there were only three but in watching the video afterwards, there were four plus a couple in the foreground. Yahooo!

Here's a broad picture of the snipes.  Click on it to enlarge and see if you can find the others in the foreground...
Here’s a broad picture of the snipes. Click on it to enlarge and see if you can find the others in the foreground…

Here’s some video I took of the shovelers and snipes.  See if you can find the snipes in the foreground early in the video!

northern shoveler bill
What a bill on this baby. No wonder they’re called shovelers!
northern shoveler female bill
They kept pulling up vegetation from the bottom. Hmmm, I wonder if they are vegan?
northern shoveler group from behind
Off to find more gunk to sift through…

 

Lions and tigers and…more like Da Bear and wacally wabbits…

bear image from vid 2Who knows what lurks in  your backyard when you’re not looking?  Last blog, I showed some pictures of bear tracks so I set up my remote camera to see what I could see…

httpv://youtu.be/XK3id4RaDLQ

That was part of a song I learned while sitting through my sister’s Bluebird troop-  The Bear went over the Mountain, the bear went over the Mountain.  The Bear went over the Mountain…to see what he could see….

We’re not the only ones coming out of Hibernation!

Northampton Cafe’s were filled yesterday, pedestrians were all over the city, smiling, talking, sitting on steps soaking up the warmth of the sun while enjoying a croissant from their favorite bakery .  There was someone else who came out of hibernation yesterday as well!

Yep, the black bears are back!

Its been a pretty tough winter.  Long stretches of temps below zero at nights and getting to, maybe 10 degrees during the day and lots, I mean lots of snow!  Now its March 12th and finally we actually had a day over 50 degrees (glorious) and a night time low of only 39 degrees.  We still have at least a foot and a half of snow on the ground but I picked up a new track in my backyard…click on the picture to enlarge it.

Its time to take down our birdfeeders before they habituate to our backyards and human food!
Its time to take down our birdfeeders before they habituate to our backyards and human food!
Here's a great pic of its huge toes!
Here’s a great pic of its huge toes! And look at that paw pad, its over 4 inches wide!
My fingers don't even fill up the space...
My fingers don’t even fill up the space…They actually have 5 toes like us but their little toe is on the inside where our big toe is.

1 bear track w claws measure

My finger nails are no comparison to this baby!
My finger nails are no comparison to this baby!