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Nature Journal

Notes about birds, mammals, wildflowers, insects, and more
 
   
   
  Sunday, January 18, 2004
   
  Saw some moose tracks today when I was out walking. Followed them through the woods for a ways. First time I've seen moose tracks in this particular area in the winter. Their tracks sure look big in the snow!
 
I've also been seeing lots of deer
  tracks recently. The last couple of evenings, I've seen two deer walk by the house at dusk.
Although the lighting was poor, I did manage to
take a few photos.

I recognize the deer on the left from last year, because she has a nick out of her right ear. I suspect the deer on the right is her grown fawn from this past summer.
   
   
  Thursday, January 15, 2004
   
  The temperature has been well below zero on many recent nights. Tonight is one of them!

I stepped outside and heard the sounds of the trees. As the wind blew, the trees creaked and groaned. I heard a soft crackling coming from amongst the trees. Then, as one tree rubbed against another, it produced a high-pitched squeaking sound.

Every so often there was a loud "snap." Not sure if it was a branch breaking, the sound of the trees contracting in the cold, or something else. All the while, I could hear the sound of the wind blowing through the white pines.
   
   
  Monday, January 12, 2004
   
  Over the past week, I've noticed that the goldfinches are beginning to molt into their breeding plumage. Yellow is starting to show around the throat and head.

By spring, they'll be looking like the goldfinch in this photo.

All of the references I've checked talk about goldfinches molting in March and
  April. But last year I noticed that they
began to molt during the last week of
January. And this year it's even earlier.
   
   
  Friday, January 9, 2004
   
  Last night around midnight I heard some unusual sounds below my bedroom window. I'm used to the "chink, chink, chink" sound of deer walking in the snow, but this was different.

I got up and looked out the window but saw nothing unusual. Back to bed and, again, there was that sound! So I opened the door to the balcony and looked out. I heard one deer make a sudden movement in alarm and saw another one pawing at some snowy leaves. I gently closed the door so not to startle them any further.

I've heard deer pawing in the snow before, but the hard consistency of the snow made it sound different this time. There's always something new to learn!
   
   
  Wednesday, January 7, 2004
   
  Barred OwlI stepped outside at dusk and, from very close by, I heard a loud "yeooooow."

I was momentarily startled, but the voice seemed somehow familiar. A few moments later I heard "hoo-hoo-hoo-aw". Ah, yes, now I knew who
  my visitor was - a barred owl.

I took this photo near my house last winter. Since barred owls tend to remain on the same territory year after year, the owl in the photo is very likely the same owl I heard this evening - or its mate.
   
   
  Sunday, January 4, 2004
   
 

I've been observing the squirrels under my birdfeeder. This year there are four gray squirrels and two red ones - as far as I can tell.

The gray squirrels, as usual, are fairly placid and not very territorial. On one occasion, I saw a red squirrel chase a gray squirrel away from the feeder. But most of the time, the gray squirrels - when there is more than one - seem to dominate the area under the birdfeeder and get along pretty well together.

On the other hand, the red squirrels are constantly chasing each other. And, on and off during the day, I hear their territorial chattering.

   
   
  Thursday, January 1, 2004
   
  Evening SkyI never get tired of watching the colors of the evening sky.

Took this photo a couple of days ago when the whole sky was lit up with color - north, south, east, and west. There I was, turning around in every direction - each time
  astounded at the beauty.
   
   
  Monday, December 29, 2003
   
  In the last couple of days, I've been seeing tufted titmice at the feeder - for the first time this year. Makes me wonder where they've been.

Yesterday, I watched a hairy woodpecker foraging on some trees near the house. And I've been hearing the pecking of woodpeckers when I walk in the woods. Out in the woods, I hear 'em but I don't always see 'em. With snow on the ground, it's hard to get to a place where I can spot them - and harder to get there quietly!
   
   
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