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Archive for October, 2017

Trailing Arbutus Flowering!

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One of the first wildflowers to burst upon the scene in April is Trailing Arbutus, Epigaea repens – a true harbinger of spring. This plant is also referred to as Mayflower and Plymouth Mayflower, as it was a welcome sight to the Pilgrims after their first winter.

It is a first for me to find this plant in flower at this time of year; I have never even heard of this occurring. The flowers are often well hidden beneath leathery, evergreen leaves, so can survive the cold temperatures in April and May, but they face much greater challenges flowering in late October. Most of their main pollinators (bumblebees) die with the first hard frost, which most of northern New England has experienced. And even if, by some stroke of luck, a lingering bumblebee did land on and pollinate a blossom, it’s very doubtful that even with our warming climate, there would be time for fruit to form and mature.  Certainly the energy used to produce fall flowers is an expense the plant can ill afford in its efforts to reproduce.   (Photo taken 10-28-17 in Hartland, VT)

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New Children’s Book in Animal Adaptation Series Released

e-AnimalTails (002)My latest book, ANIMAL TAILS, joins ANIMAL EYES, ANIMAL NOSES and ANIMAL LEGS as part of a children’s series I have written on animal adaptations. Readers are introduced to the many different ways animals use their tails, with two-page spreads for each of the photographs. ANIMAL TAILS is available from independent bookstores, online and from the publisher (click on cover image on my blog). This book (or possibly the whole series?) might make the perfect Christmas gift for your favorite 3 to 8 year-old!


Yellow Jackets On A Bender

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At this time of year, yellow jackets, hornets and wasps take advantage of the plethora of fermented fruit that lies underneath fruit trees. Because the queen slows down the production of eggs in the fall, workers have time on their hands, as they have fewer larvae to collect food (chewed-up insects) for. Their life (but not the queen’s) is about to come to an end, and they go out in style. If you have observed these members of the Vespidae family acting more erratic, it may well be because they are drunk on hard cider. (Photo:  yellow jackets binging)


Three Weeks Left To Order 2018 Naturally Curious Calendar

So sorry – WordPress printed my previous calendar post message in black, which made it impossible to read!

e-cover 402sheet with tiny images4Orders for the 2018 Naturally Curious Calendar can be placed by writing to me at 134 Densmore Hill Road, Windsor, VT  05089.  The calendars are printed on heavy card stock and measure 11″ x 17″ when hanging.  There is one full-page photograph per month.  They are $35.00 each (includes postage).  Please specify the number of calendars you would like to order, the mailing address to which they should be sent and your email address.  Your check can be made out to Mary Holland and guaranteed orders can be placed up until November 15th.  After this date, orders will be filled as long as my supply of calendars lasts. Calendars will arrive at your door by mid-December (in time to be given as Christmas gifts).  Thank you so much!

 

 


Three Weeks Left To Order 2018 Naturally Curious Calendar

e-cover 402sheet with tiny images4Orders for the 2018 Naturally Curious Calendar can be placed by writing to me at 134 Densmore Hill Road, Windsor, VT 05089. The calendars are printed on heavy card stock and measure 11” x 17” when hanging. There is one full-page photograph per month. They are $35.00 each (includes postage). Please specify the number of calendars you would like to order, the mailing address to which they should be sent and your email address. Your check can be made out to Mary Holland and guaranteed orders can be placed up until November 15th. After this date, orders will be filled as long as my supply of calendars lasts. They are $35.00 each (includes postage). Calendars will arrive at your door by mid-December (in time to be given as Christmas gifts). Thank you so much!

 


Broad-shouldered Water Striders Still Active

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If you see what look like miniature water striders skating on the surface of a stream or pond, you may have come upon an aggregation of Broad-shouldered Water Striders, a different family of water striders from the ones we commonly see. They are tiny (2-6 mm) and very fast-moving, zipping here and there with the speed of a bullet, staying on top of the surface film, or surface tension, that is created by the attraction of water molecules. Adaptations to this mode of travel include non-wettable hairs at the ends of their legs that don’t disrupt the surface tension, and claws that are located a short distance up the outermost section of their legs rather than at the end of their legs, so as not to break this film.

Broad-shouldered Water Striders are often found in the more protected areas of a stream, where they tend to congregate in large numbers. Members of a common genus, Rhagovelia, are known as “riffle bugs” and are often found below rocks that are in the current. Broad-shouldered Water Striders locate their prey (water fleas, mosquito eggs and larvae, etc.) by detecting surface waves with vibration sensors in their legs. There can be up to six generations a summer (photo shows that they are still mating at the end of October). Broad-shouldered Water Striders spend the winter hibernating as adults, gathering in debris at the edge of the water or beneath undercut banks.

 

 


Hooded Merganser Numbers Increasing

10-23-17 hooded mergs 011The number of Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) is beginning to build as their fall migration from eastern Canada breeding grounds to southeastern U.S. gets under way. Late migrants, Hooded Mergansers won’t reach the peak of their migration until mid-November. They will not completely vanish from sight, however, as many Hooded Mergansers remain in New England on open marshes, ponds, rivers and creeks where they can find fish and crustaceans to feed on throughout the winter.