Wildlife Odds and Ends

I walk often, usually traveling short distances on local trails. Late Spring is a wonderful time to do this because there’s so much going on in the world of wildlife.

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Wildlife populations are approaching their annual peak as new recruits arrive daily!

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Juvenile Red Squirrel

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Goslings

Songbirds are in various stages of nesting: some are building nests, some are sitting on eggs, some are feeding young. Regardless of the species, males can usually be heard singing on the nesting territories.

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Chestnut-sided Warbler above a dense thicket of shrubs and young trees

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Great Crested Flycatcher nesting in a “Bluebird” box (1 of 3)

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Reptiles and amphibians have come alive in the summer-like heat. This American Toad has claimed my compost pile as home.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Forget-Me-Not!

Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis) is a small plant that occurs just about everywhere, from wetlands to untidy lawns. Despite the tiny flowers, a dense patch in filtered light is lovely.

Most flowers are blue, but I often find a few pale pink ones in the mix…which I can’t resist!

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Tree Leaves and Flowers

The emergence of new foliage on deciduous trees is a beautiful process and signature event in the spring season.

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Quaking (Trembling) Aspen, 5/20/2016

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Red Oak, 5/22/2016

And the Wild Apple trees are in full bloom too!

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Wild Apple trees, 5/22/2016

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Mammal Encounters

Surprise encounters with the wonderful world of mammals must be shared, even if there is no particular theme to tie it all together!

Serious birders know that a slice of orange attracts orioles to backyard feeders. My orioles are still singing and foraging in the tree tops!

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Cottontail at rest in the protective cover of a fencerow thicket

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This groundhog was caught off guard and didn’t have a clear path to its den. It hid under a log, then came out to see if I was still a threat. Had I been a fox or coyote, it would have been dinner.

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The gestation period for White-tailed Deer is about 200 days. This doe will soon be giving birth to a fawn or two. The lush herbaceous vegetation of stream bottoms is preferred habitat for fawning.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Swallow Activity

Tree Swallow activity in mid May is an absolute joy to observe. In just a few minutes time mated pairs can be seen nest building, battling intruders, feeding on the wing, resting and preening. They’re also quite vocal and the continuous twitter chatter is fascinating in and of itself. The focal point of all activity is a nest box on a post, located in a field or open area (the steel post used as a perch in these images is the anchor for a nest box that is just out sight). Enjoy!!!

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Mid May 2016

This past week saw the rapid expansion and growth of Sugar Maple foliage,

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The fading of some early spring wildflowers,

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Marsh Marigold

And the fresh blooms of new arrivals in the sequence of bloom,

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Painted Trillium, the last of the 3 native trilliums to bloom

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Wild Apple tree

Plants within a species don’t bloom simultaneously, an adaptation that helps avoid catastrophic losses due to environmental extremes. There is a frost warning for tonight, but only 10 – 20% of the wild apple trees have started to bloom. Hoping we get through this with plenty of blossoms …and apples… to enjoy!

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Nest Building 101

I received these instructions from a cavity nesting songbird, one that serenades me while I’m  working in the garden: the common House Wren.

Step 1.In the absence of a hollow tree, find a small box with a hole in it. Stuff the box with tiny twigs (about 600, give or take a hundred). Leave some room at the top for bedding and the kids. Oh, and in your spare time, stuff every other nest box in sight with twigs to discourage the competition.

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Step 2. Scavenge some soft material for bedding (you don’t want the kids flying around with a stick up their butt). Fragments of insulation from a nearby dog kennel work well.

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Step 3. Sing loud and often to let the world know what you’ve done. And that you own it.

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My biological control strategy for insect pests!

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.