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….

Finally, The Tracking Hike!

Here's a happy group of hikers, glad to be out in nature, breathing fresh air and tracking wild animals!
Here’s a happy group of hikers, glad to be out in nature, breathing fresh air and tracking wild animals!

Well after three postponements due to harsh weather, we were able to run the Tracking Hike for Kestrel Land Trust.  We hiked into the Mineral Hills Conservation Area in Northampton. Kestrel has been an important partner in expanding this really great area.  It has forests, wetlands, a quarry, and lots of great hiking paths.  If you’re interested, there is a group that manages the property called Friends of the Mineral Hills, check them out on Facebook!  Here’s a video I made of the hike:

httpv://youtu.be/vzKCvgoyOeI

Porkies, Porkies, Everywhere!

Now that's a beautiful porky!
Now that’s a beautiful porky!

Hey Folks,  Well we had to postpone the tracking hike for another week so my friend Mike and I went up into the Mineral Hills to retrieve the remote wildlife cameras.  They got some great pics of the porcupines!  Take a look:

httpv://youtu.be/I3IZ3eVzHUk

Remember to click on the image to enlarge:

Look at that, 2 degrees!
Look at that, 2 degrees!
Going down...negative 12 degrees!   And look at the claws on this baby! That's how they get up the trees so easy.
Going down…negative 12 degrees! And look at the claws on this baby! That’s how they get up the trees so easy.
Hemlock "nip twigs" from porkies eating just the tips of the branches.
Hemlock “nip twigs” from porkies eating just the tips of the branches.
This is what the nip twig looks like up close.  You can see where the porky cut it at an angle using its teeth.  You can also see the very ends of the needles are cut too.  They eat only the very fresh growth at the ends.
This is what the nip twig looks like up close. You can see where the porky cut it at an angle using its teeth. You can also see the very ends of the needles are cut too. They eat only the very fresh growth at the ends.
And what happens to the succulent hemlock needle, you may ask?  Here is the porkies den entrance.  It has loads of cashew shaped and sized scat of compressed wood shavings.  The pine/turpentine smell is very heavy.  And cool, lots of quills laying around too.
And what happens to the succulent hemlock needle, you may ask? Here is the porkies den entrance. It has loads of cashew shaped and sized scat of compressed wood shavings. The pine/turpentine smell is very heavy. And cool, lots of quills laying around too.
Very cute, but don't try to pet the porky!
Very cute, but don’t try to pet the porky!

 

The Magnificent Hummingbird! Banding them in West Whately, Massachusetts

I had the pleasure of participating in a morning of banding hummingbirds, in West Whately of all places!  Bill and Joe have these incredible gardens that draw a mulititude (50 or 60 at least) of hummers.  Here’s my video of the really fun morning I had:

httpv://youtu.be/SPbiaK9lVeU