An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Archive for October, 2010

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

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is now available from www.trafalgarbooks.com or your local bookseller.

PORCUPINES

My second encounter with a porcupine this fall occurred today. This prickly rodent, upon first seeing me, had each and every one of its 30,000 quills erect and you could hear its teeth chattering away, but it gradually seemed to understand that I meant no harm, and lowered its quills so that the length of its long guard hairs could be appreciated. Interestingly, a porcupine’s quills contain a fatty acid which acts as an antibiotic, preventing the porcupine, as well as any enemy, from getting an infection if a quill enters its body.


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

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is now available from www.trafalgarbooks.com or your local bookseller.

WILD TURKEY SIGN

It stretches the imagination, I know, but apparently the digestive tracts of hen and tom turkeys differ significantly enough to give their respective scats different shapes. Hen turkey scat is often in the form of a rounded lump, whereas the scat of toms is frequently in a “J” or “I” shape. A hen turkey had passed by and left its mark in this photograph.


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

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is now available from www.trafalgarbooks.com or your local bookseller.

BURLS

A burl is an abnormal growth on a tree trunk or branch thought to be caused by injury, disease or some other form of stress, perhaps involving insect damage or fungi. Although we commonly see them above ground, most burls develop on the roots of trees. A burl is often filled with small knots from dormant buds, giving the grain a unique and beautiful appearance prized by wood workers.


Red-breasted Nuthatch – Welcome to a photographic journey through the woods, fields and marshes of New England

There are two species of nuthatches in New England, both of which remain here year round – the white-breasted and red-breasted. You are more likely to spot red-breasted nuthatches in coniferous woods, where they can be found moving quickly over tree trunks and branches (up, down and sideways), probing for insects under loose bark. During the winter they often join groups of chickadees, kinglets and woodpeckers. The “yank-yank” call of the red-breasted nuthatch has been likened to the sound of a tiny tin horn. During poor Canadian seed crop years, we often experience an influx, or irruption, of these plump-bodied birds flying south in search of winter food.

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is now available from www.trafalgarbooks.com or your local bookseller.

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH


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

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is now available from www.trafalgarbooks.com or your local bookseller.

CRAYFISH

Crayfish (“crawdads” if you live in central U.S., and “crawfish” if you live further south) are crustaceans, closely related to lobsters, crabs and shrimp. Their fifth pair of legs has evolved into pincers


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

Find more of my photographs and information similar to that which I post in this blog in my book Naturally Curious, which is now available from www.trafalgarbooks.com or your local bookseller.

DEERMICE

It’s that time of year again, when white-footed deermice and North American deermice (formerly white-footed mice and deer mice) are seeking shelter inside of human dwellings. While stonewalls, old burrows, tree cavities and roofed-over bird nests are inhabited by some of these small rodents, the food and shelter that houses provide are palatial in comparison. It is very hard to distinguish these two species in the field; other than skull differences, the trait used most often is their relative tail length. If the tail is less than half the total length of the mouse, it is probably a white-footed deermouse; if its tail is more than half its total length, it is most likely a North American deermouse.


NATURALLY CURIOUS, THE BOOK, IS NOW AVAILABLE!

 

Friends and blog readers, spread the word! NATURALLY CURIOUS, my month-by-month guided tour of the Northeast and the plants and animals that make the region their home, is now available for purchase at www.trafalgarbooks.com! Order now, and your book ships next week! As of Monday, NATURALLY CURIOUS will be available in bookstores–look for it, and if you don’t see it, be sure to ask for it!

Don’t forget! If you order your copy from wwwtrafalgarbooks.com BY TOMORROW, OCTOBER 15, 2010, you’ll pay only $35.00 (regular price is $39.95).