An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide – maryholland505@gmail.com

Archive for March, 2010

Welcome to a photographic journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England

Here I’ll be sharing some of my favorite photographs from my forthcoming book Naturally Curious. I’ll be updating my blog periodically with new images, new stories, and more glimpses of New England in all seasons.

MOURNING DOVES SINGING

My favorite time of year is fast approaching…when every day is practically guaranteed to bring you a new sign of spring. Today I awoke to the mournful cooing of the mourning dove, a sound I haven’t heard in at least six months and which gives this bird its common name. Its song is an indication that courtship has begun. To me, one of the more interesting facts about this species is that, along with pigeons, their close relatives, both parents care for their young, and do so in a unique way. They feed their young a substance called “crop milk, ” which is secreted from the cells at the top of their crop (storage pouch off esophagus) wall.


Welcome to a photographic journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England

Here I’ll be sharing some of my favorite photographs from my forthcoming book Naturally Curious. I’ll be updating my blog periodically with new images, new stories, and more glimpses of New England in all seasons.

RED FOX NAPPING

If you remember, about a week ago I noticed that an animal had been removing earth and stones from an old fox den, and fox tracks covered the surrounding snow. Ever since, I’ve been craning my neck every time I drive past the field where the den is located, and today my vigilance paid off! Right beside the opening to the burrow a red fox was curled up, facing the large field and the dirt road I was on. Because of this, there is no way to closely approach the den site, so a glimpse from afar had to do. So nice to know that perhaps for a second summer in a row, there may be fox kits frolicking close by. In a month or two, there could be one to ten (usually five or six) gray, fuzzy pups inhabiting this den.


Welcome to a photographic journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England

Here I’ll be sharing some of my favorite photographs from my forthcoming book Naturally Curious. I’ll be updating my blog periodically with new images, new stories, and more glimpses of New England in all seasons.

SNOW FLEAS

With the temperature soaring to the mid-40’s today, it was a sure bet that snowfleas would show up. These tiny, dark, wingless insects appear on top of the snow on warm winter days, having crawled up from the leaf litter below, where they feed on fungi and algae.  Concentrations of them are often found in foot prints, like those pictured in the coyote’s track.  Each springtail has an appendage or latch underneath their bodies that their forked tail snaps into before the tail springs down and launches the insect into the air (thus, their common name).  Watch them up close – they tend to hunch up just before flinging themselves forward. Scientists don’t know exactly why they emerge en masse – perhaps it has to do with mating or feeding habits.


Welcome to a photographic journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England

Here I’ll be sharing some of my favorite photographs from my forthcoming book Naturally Curious. I’ll be updating my blog periodically with new images, new stories, and more glimpses of New England in all seasons.

EASTERN HEMLOCK CONES

Having snow on the ground allows us to see the amount of organic debris that accumulates on the forest floor every day. After the past two days’ wind, the snow is now littered with thousands of tips of last year’s hemlock branches. With most of the leaves gone from the fallen branches, close examination reveals not only the female seed cones of last year that are still attached, but also the tiny, globular male pollen cones. (In this photograph, seed cones are larger and scaled, male cones look like little tufts along the sides of the branches.) Eastern hemlock is monoecious, having separate male and female flowers in the spring. At that time the male flowers, or catkins, are light yellow and contain masses of light, fluffy pollen which the wind disperses. The pale green female flowers, or cones, if pollinated, will produce seeds. As is evident on the branches littering the forest floor today, both structures persist long after their pollen and seeds have been dispersed.