Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm Baaack - if only for today

Photo by Mike Brennan from the Paul Smiths VIC.
An owl landed and attempted to catch dinner.
Did it succeed? Only the owl (and it's prey) know for sure.

On the first day of March, Mother Nature gave to me
A partridge/ruffed grouse in a crabapple tree
(and a couple dozen waxwings, which could’ve been cedar or bohemian, but I was too far away to tell and I didn’t have my binocs)

On the second day of March, Mother Nature gave to me
One black squirrel (dashing madly across the street in the morning, making the dog bark wildly);
One grey fox (which also dashed across the road, this time at night, it’s big bushy tail seemed half again as big as the body)

On the third day of March, Mother Nature gave to me
Brutal wind chill temps;
And a new moon circling Saturn (it’s in the rings and over 1/3 mile diameter – a small moon)

On the fourth day of March, Mother Nature gave to me
Venus bright in the night sky near the half moon (according to astronomers, if you have a telescope, you can see that Venus is also a crescent, not full)

On the fifth day of March, Mother Nature gave to me
A new plant to learn this summer (cat’s ear – Hypochoeris radicata – it looks a LOT like dandelion, but is mildly toxic; if you are foraging for wild edible greens, you want to avoid this one – note that it’s dandelion-like leaves are hairy on both sides)

Have you ever suddenly realized something that, once you realized it, seemed so painfully obvious that you feel like an idiot for not knowing it all along? For instance, I was sitting at my desk, staring out the window at all the activity (squirrels darting all over, birds flitting to and from the feeders), and it suddenly occurred to me the reason we have been finding sunflower seed husks scattered all over the snow in the woods. Last month my boss commented on it, and her answer was that the high winds we’d been having were responsible. I wasn’t buying it – we’ve had high winds before and they haven’t blown seed that far from the feeders. So, I’m sitting here, watching the chickadees, and I had a “dope slap” moment: the seed husks are from all the seeds the chickadees carry from the feeders to open and eat on tree branches, the empty husks falling to the ground. Voila! Another mystery solved.

I was also surprised today by a visit from Woodswalker (Saratoga Woods and Water Blog). She stopped by this afternoon and we went for a quick walk around the Sucker Brook Trail. The highlight for me was raccoon tracks; we’ve had enough warm weather that they have become active.

We also had some good snowshoe hare tracks, which were a first for Woodswalker. The best part of these tracks for me was the little nuggets left behind:
It’s not often we get to see snowshoe hare scats!

OH! And we had some really good ruffed grouse tracks:

So, many thanks to my guest for getting me up and out of the office today! J

On the sixth day of March, Mother Nature gave to me
A winter wren singing in full voice (about a month earlier than any other year I have recorded);
Glare ice everywhere! We have an oil truck stuck in our driveway, I almost skidding into it, my boss ran into a snow bank, and we have a busload of students coming from Queensbury!

On the seveth day of March, Mother Nature gave to me

Redwing blackbirds nervously "conkeree"ing in the trees (they must've come in over night);

and a good experience in a tracking class with Vince Walsh of Kawing Krow Awareness Center. I learned some new stuff (like deer sleep facing west, so they can catch the scent of anything approaching from upwind, and red squirrels follow the same routes through the trees and all those nipped conifer tips are probably from them doing "trail maintenance" - not because they are eating the buds, which are still on the tips).

On the eighth day of March, Mother Nature gave to me

a glorious spring-like day (I thoroughly expected to see daffodils spring from the ground)

On the ninth day of March, Mother Nature gave to me

a brutal return to winter weather (it is only the 9th of March, afterall): heavy wet snow and falling fast in big flakes. I'm at the Glens Falls Library and not looking forward to the drive back up into the mountains!

So, there you are, caught up on one week. It seems like it's been a month! How quickly we become dependent on technology. I do another post with pics from Woodswalker's visit.

1 comment:

  1. I am SO glad you're back, even if only for a day. Thanks for the great fun on VIC's trails. How I look forward to hearing winter wrens again, the sweetest. longest songs of all the birds I know -- as long as seven seconds (most birdsongs last about 2 seconds). It took me years to learn who was singing, since they're so tiny and never show themselves. But with warbles and trills and flutes as LOUD as they are long and sweet.