Current Journal


Nature of New England                           


Nature Journal

Notes about birds, mammals, wildflowers, insects, and more
  Friday, February 27, 2004

Things have been pretty quiet during the last few days. The deer haven't been around and I haven't seen the wild turkeys - or their tracks - in a long time.

Seeing the usual birds at the feeder: black-capped chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches, white-breasted nuthatches, and tufted titmice.

There are a couple of goldfinches that visit the feeder, but the usual flock of 25 or 30 has been absent for the past month or so. I haven't seen any redpolls since then either.

  Tuesday, February 24, 2004
  Golden-crowned KingletI saw a bird today that was behaving differently than the birds I normally see in this area. It was fluttering its wings a lot and flitting about more than the other birds.

Then I remembered that this is how the golden-crowned kinglet behaves. Got out the binoculars and took a look.
  Sure enough, that's what it was.

I saw one last year during the winter, also.
But I think it only stayed around for a couple of days.
  Saturday, February 21, 2004
  Over the past 6 weeks or so, I've been hearing a sound in the woods that I hadn't been able to identify. It's a very loud, startling sound - kind of a yowling sound. I just hear it once or twice in a row, then not any more that night.

After seeing a bobcat the other day, I'm now thinking that this probably is the animal that I've been hearing. The sound is cat-like, but much too loud to be a house cat. Not realizing that there were any wild cats in the immediate area, it hadn't occurred to me that it could be a bobcat.

This is the mating season for the bobcat, which is when more yowling is apt to be heard.
  Wednesday, February 18, 2004
  Tufted TitmouseOver the past week or so, the tufted titmouse has become increasingly vocal. In the early mornings, I hear its "peer, peer, peer" call.

The deer have not been around much lately - until today when I saw two of them browsing behind the house. There's a crust on the snow now, which makes travel
more difficult for the deer.
  Sunday, February 15, 2004
  Yesterday, I saw what I think was a bobcat - a first for me. My viewing opportunity lasted less than ten seconds, so I can't be certain.

When I first saw it, I knew it was a different animal than I'd seen around here before. (People have seen bobcats further up the mountain where rabbits are also found.) This animal looked about 3 feet long, not including the tail - but it's hard to judge from a distance. Although I could only see the top part of its body, it clearly was moving in a catlike manner. In a few moments, it was gone.

I went out and checked the tracks and they looked like bobcat tracks - at least, according to the books. They were more roundish than fox or coyote tracks. And all of the other characteristics - stride length, width of track, etc. - match that of the bobcat.

At the first place where I spotted this animal, I found a dead squirrel that had been partially eaten. I may have interrupted a meal. I checked again today and the squirrel was gone - but no more bobcat tracks. Maybe an owl or hawk got it.
  Thursday, February 12, 2004

Downy WoodpeckerToday I watched a male downy woodpecker foraging on the trunks and branches of some maple trees. Usually, they seem to do more foraging and less flying from tree to tree than what I saw this time.

This woodpecker was moving up one trunk - or out one limb - without seeming to find much. Then it would fly to a lower

  spot on the next tree and proceeding upward again.

At one point, it started pecking away at one particular spot - making a very noticeable hole in the tree. Then it went off foraging again. I think it may have been testing out a potential nest site.

Downy woodpeckers begin their courtship period around this time of year. During courtship, both the male and female may begin test excavations on various trees. Eventually, a nesting tree is decided upon and serious excavation begins.
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