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WELCOME TO A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY THROUGH THE FIELDS, WOODS, AND MARSHES OF NEW ENGLAND

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my award-winning book NATURALLY CURIOUS

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Sadie Brown and Otis Brown Fund

The correct link for the Sadie Brown and Otis Brown Fund is  https://www.plumfund.com/financial-hardship/sadie-brown-otis-brown-fund. I may have inadvertently made a typographical error in my initial post today. Thank you again so much.

My Absence

7-26-17 Sadie and Otis3 029Thank you so much for your patience and understanding regarding the lack of Naturally Curious posts for the past two weeks. My son-in-law, Waylon, died suddenly and unexpectedly two weeks ago, leaving my daughter Sadie and her two-year-old son, Otis, on their own. I never knew how much a heart could ache.

Because I am technologically challenged, posting remotely from Boston was beyond my capabilities and because I will be living in two places for the immediate future, posts may be sporadic for a while and I apologize. With a little help from a computer-savvy friend, I may manage to post when I’m away. Know that I will do my very best.

A fund (The Sadie and Otis Brown Fund) was set up by Sadie’s incredible friends to help her with the expenses that she will face in raising Otis. (Sadie and Waylon had no life insurance, and Sadie’s job as the recycling coordinator for the city of Melrose, MA just about covers her daycare expenses.) I would like to ask that if you’re ever considering donating to my blog, you consider giving to this fund instead: https://www.plumfund.com/financial-hardship/sadie-brown-otis-brown-fund. Thank you very, very much. Naturally Curious posts will resume tomorrow.

No Naturally Curious posts for the next few days

Due to a family emergency, I will not be able to post for the next little while.  Thank you for your understanding.  I will resume as soon as possible.

Blinded Sphinx Moth vs. One-eyed Sphinx Moth

7-11-17 sphinx moths-1

Moths in the family Sphingidae are commonly called “hummingbird” (for their habit of hovering as they feed on nectar from flowers), “sphinx” (the larva holds its legs off the surface and tucks its head underneath, resembling the Egyptian Sphinx) or “hawk” (they fly with great speed and precision) moths.   Most are fairly large, with some species having a wingspread of up to 5” or more.

One group of sphinx moths is referred to as the “Eyed Sphinx Moths,” two of which are the Blinded Sphinx Moth (Paonias excaecata) and the One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi). The derivation of their respective common names can be easily ascertained by examining the upper surface of their hind wings. The Blinded Sphinx Moth has a single blue eyespot on each hindwing, whereas the One-eyed Sphinx Moth has a round or diamond-shaped black spot (“pupil”) in the center of each blue eyespot. The Blinded Sphinx Moth is light brown, whereas the One-eyed is a violet-gray. Both moths have scalloped wings that are held elevated and slightly away from the body. They are nocturnal, and regularly visit lights in small numbers. Their life is short, and adults of both species do not feed.

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to http://www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.

 

Common Loon Chicks Riding High

7-10-17 common loon and chick IMG_4179

Why do Common Loon chicks ride on their parents’ backs for the first two weeks of their life? There are several reasons. Loon chicks leave their nest as soon as their downy feathers are dry; if they stayed in their ground nest, they would be very vulnerable to predators on land. For the same reason, they rarely return to their nest.

Like many young birds, loon chicks can’t immediately regulate their body heat.  Many birds brood their young in the nest, providing them with warmth and shelter.  Common Loon parents brood their young on their back (and under their wings). On windy, cloudy, cool days, the chicks are nowhere to be seen, huddled under their parents’ wings. On calm, sunny days, they are in full view.

Although they can swim immediately after hatching, loon chicks are very buoyant and have difficulty maneuvering. Predators such as Bald Eagles, Common Ravens and gulls are quick to prey on young loons that have no parental protection. In addition, predatory fish such as Northern Pike and Largemouth Bass are a threat. Once they are several weeks old, the chicks are not only bigger, but they are more mobile and can avoid predators more easily.

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to http://www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.

 

 

 

Leech Bite Clarification

7-7-17 snapper with leeches IMG_9090Today’s Naturally Curious post stated that leeches have a chemical anesthetic which prevents the host from feeling a leech’s bite. I have since learned that there is no scientific proof of this, and substantial proof that it is not true. As reported, it is possible, and even likely, to feel a leech’s bite. In addition, as Ruth Sylvester pointed out, hirudin is the anticoagulant, not the non-existent anesthetic! So sorry. Reference: http://bdellanea.blogspot.com/2008/07/myth-busters-leech-anaesthetic.html

Mystery Photo I.D. – Leeches feeding on the blood of a Snapping Turtle

IMG_1812Leeches are segmented worms (annnelids) which feed predominantly on blood, although some species do eat insects. Of the 700 species of leeches, 500 inhabit fresh water, as opposed to salt water or land. Blood-sucking leeches are common parasites of many freshwater vertebrates including turtles, amphibians and fish.

Generally speaking, leeches of the genus Placobdella are commonly found on turtles. Bottom-dwelling species such as the Common Snapping Turtle, Mud Turtle and Musk Turtle usually have more leeches than other turtles, and they are often attached to the skin at the limb sockets. Aerially-basking species such as Painted Turtles often have fewer of these parasites, possibly because basking forces leeches to detach in order to avoid desiccation.

A leech can ingest several times its weight in blood from one host before dropping off and not feeding again for weeks, or even months. Leeches inject hirudin, an anesthetic, to keep the hosts from feeling them break the skin. They also inject an anticoagulant to keep the blood from clotting so that they can feed. Although leeches (especially large ones) can be a significant health detriment to smaller animals, they are not harmful to most large animals, such as Snapping Turtles.

Some of the most common predators of leeches include turtles, fish, ducks, and other birds. Map Turtles allow Common Grackles to land in basking areas and peck at leeches clinging to their skin, and minnows have been seen cleaning leeches from Wood Turtles in the water. At times turtles bury themselves in ant mounds to rid themselves of these pesky parasites.

For those readers who may hesitate before going into a leech-laden pond, it may be comforting to know that leeches are mainly nocturnal. (Photo by Jeannie Killam)

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to http://www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.

 

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