Current Journal


Nature of New England                           


Nature Journal

Notes about birds, mammals, wildflowers, insects, and more
Sunday, December 15, 2002
Snowy TreesWe had about seven inches of snow a couple of nights ago. And this was the view out my window the next morning. You can just barely see the outline of one of the mountains in the background.

It was a fairly warm day (for this
time of the year), so three or four hours
after I took this photo, the snow had fallen
off the trees.
Saturday, December 14, 2002
When walking in the woods yesterday, I was following some deer tracks - just to see where they went.

Whenever there was a choice between taking the path that had the least obstacles and the path that had the least snow, I noticed that the deer usually would take the latter - that is, the one with the least snow.

I myself would normally take the path with fewer obstacles. But I think I've learned something from the deer.

I found that the snow depth might be only 2-3 inches when I walked close to some hemlock trees versus a snow depth of 6-8 inches if I were to walk just five feet further away from those trees.

This gave me a practical example of how important the evergreen trees are for the deer - both for shelter, as discussed on Monday - and for the easier travel conditions beneath them.
Friday, December 13, 2002
Here you can see an example of a young beech tree that still has its leaves now - even though it's the middle of December.

From my observations, these young trees will often keep their leaves until late winter or early spring. If the
winter is very windy, some of the leaves
will come off before that time.

I've tried to find out why these young beeches don't lose their leaves in the fall - like the full-grown trees do - but my research has turned up nothing so far.
Thursday, December 12, 2002
Here's an interesting article by Robert Winkler, an excellent nature writer. He tells about the history of the wild turkey and describes its behavior, including his personal observations.

I haven't seen any wild turkeys in quite a while now. But, when I do, it's usually from inside the house. If I open the door - even slowly and quietly - they disappear very quickly into the woods.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Barred OwlSaw a golden-crowned kinglet today - foraging on a maple tree. Kinglets don't have the purposeful-looking foraging behavior that, say, the nuthatches do. Instead, they flit from one spot on the tree trunk to another spot.
This one hopped along on the snow for a while after checking out the maple tree. Then it disappeared from view.

Immediately, a barred owl flew in and sat
in a nearby tree. I'm always awed by the sudden silent appearance of the barred owl. I watched it for a while before it flew further away. In this photo, you can see it peering in my direction.

About 15 minutes later, the golden-crowned kinglet was back - but foraging higher in the trees now.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002
As usual, the goldfinches are visiting my bird feeder every day.

In previous years, it was rare for me to see one of them feeding on the ground. This year, during recent visits, ten or more goldfinches have been busily eating seeds that fall to the ground.

The flock of goldfinches is larger this year, so I'm guessing that my two bird feeders (one large and one medium-sized) just can't accommodate them.

A month or so ago, there was a lot more skirmishing going on as different ones asserted their place at the feeders. This concerned me, as I know that it's stressful for the birds.

Now that some birds are feeding on the ground, I'm seeing less fighting for position, which I'm glad of. I've thought about getting an additional feeder, but then an even larger flock would probably come!
Monday, December 9, 2002
White Pines Intercept SnowDuring the winter, evergreen trees provide shelter for the whitetail deer - protecting them from the snow and the wind.

This photo shows how some white pines have intercepted the snow, leaving bare ground beneath the