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Nature of New England                           


                     

Nature Journal

Notes about birds, mammals, wildflowers, insects, and more
 
 
Sunday, December 8, 2002
 
Saw some red fox tracks today. Got me thinking and doing some reading about the fox.

This mammal has an incredible sense of hearing. It locates mice in the grass - or under the snow - by the sound of their little rustlings.

The red fox also has extremely good night vision and a keen sense of smell - which are both obviously a big advantage when tracking prey. Its sense of smell also comes in handy when locating caches of food that it has previously hidden.
 
 
Saturday, December 7, 2002
 
Highbush Cranberries with SnowNature paints some pretty pictures.
And here's one of them. (Hmmm, doesn't look like much unless you enlarge it , tho'.)

These are highbush cranberries hanging on a bush I walk by regularly. A few inches of fluffy
snow added the white topping.
 
 
Friday, December 6, 2002
 
I heard the hooting of the barred owl yesterday evening. Instead its more usual "hoo-hoo-hoohoo" sound, it was just calling a soft "hoo-aw" - with a downward inflection. It made this sound over and over at regular intervals until it was out of earshot.

I sometimes wake up at night to the sound of the barred owl - and I don't mind it one bit! When there's more than one of them, they often hoot back and forth - making quite a racket. I enjoy every moment of it. Now, I have to admit, if it went on for hours I don't think I'd like it quite as much. :)
 
 
Thursday, December 5, 2002
 
Glow Behind MountainsWhen I saw this beautiful glow in the sky behind the mountains, I ran into the house to get my camera.

I continue to be amazed at how these mountains can look so different at various times of the day and of the year.

Just an hour or two can go by -
and I'll look out the window and see
a whole new scene. It's wonderful!
 
 
Wednesday, December 4, 2002
 
I've been seeing some species of moth flying around outside for the past month or so. It doesn't seem to be bothered by the cold weather. Haven't been able to identify it yet or get a photo. It's sort of a white/gray color and is very active - I've never seen it light on anything (tho' I'm sure it must!).

Here's some interesting info from the Smithsonian Institute about where insects go in the winter.
 
 
Tuesday, December 3, 2002
 

Tufted TitmouseIn past years, the tufted titmouse has been an occasional visitor at my bird feeder. This year, two of them have been visiting on a daily basis.

The tufted titmouse is an interesting bird to observe. I noticed today that one of them likes to sit at the feeder and eat for a while before flying away. The other one acts like chickadees do - it just grabs a seed and flies away immediately.

  Photo © Don DesJardin   
I also saw an American tree sparrow
among the juncos feeding below my bird
feeder, so I guess the sparrows are going to stick around this area after all. After not seeing them for the past month, I thought they'd gone further south - or elsewhere.
 
 
Monday, December 2, 2002
 

There's a woodchuck that's been living in the retaining wall near my house. (Was successful in keeping it out for a couple of years, but it managed to make a den there this summer.) I just realized that the reason I haven't seen it for a long time is because it's hibernating.

Woodchucks are one of the few "true" hibernators. With true hibernators, the heart rate, respiration rate, and body temperature go down markedly during their winter's sleep - and they will show little response to external stimuli.

They say that even true hibernators awaken occasionally to eat. But I'd have to do a lot more research to be sure of that.

Woodchucks usually retreat to their winter dens by the end of October and emerge again in February or March - depending upon the temperature.

 
 
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