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Mystery Photo

Mystery Photo

Do you recognize this phenomenon? Hint: it is a crab apple leaf. Submit your mystery solution under “Comments” on the Naturally Curious blog (www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com). It will be solved on Friday’s post!

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Snapping Turtle Seeking Sandy Soil In Which To Lay Eggs

Monday’s Mystery Photo leaves no doubt that Naturally Curious readers are among the most informed nature interpreters out there. There were many correct answers, but congratulations go to Susan Cloutier, who was the first to identify the tracks and diagnostic wavy line left by the tail of a female Snapping Turtle as she traveled overland seeking sandy soil in which to lay her eggs. The turtle eventually found a suitable spot, dug several holes and chose one in which to deposit her roughly 30 eggs, covered them with soil and immediately headed back to her pond, leaving her young to fend for themselves if and when they survive to hatch in the fall.

Unfortunately, there is little guarantee that the eggs will survive. Skunks (the main predators), raccoons, foxes and mink have all been known to dig turtle eggs up within the first 24 hours of their being laid and eat them, leaving tell-tale scattered shells exposed on the ground. Fortunately, Snapping Turtles live at least 47 years, giving them multiple chances to have at least one successful nesting season. (Thanks to Chiho Kaneko and Jeffrey Hamelman for photo op.)

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Mystery Photo

Can you identify these tracks and traces?  Hint:  mostly seen in the month of June. Please go to the Naturally Curious blog site, scroll down to “Comments” and enter your answer. Identity of track-maker will be revealed in July 2nd post.

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.


Tadpoles Vulnerable To Drought

Congratulations (again!) to Kathie Fiveash, the first Naturally Curious reader to correctly identify the rough patch in Monday’s Mystery Photo as tadpoles that were stranded in a puddle that was drying up.

Most tadpoles acquire oxygen in a number of ways — through gills, through their skin, and by breathing air into their lungs. In this case, a lack of access to oxygen in the water has left them high and dry, as their lungs are not developed enough to provide them with the necessary amount of oxygen from the air. A sad ending for these young frogs, but a goldmine for scavenging raccoons, skunks, foxes and birds.

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Mystery Photo

Photo: a 15′ x 5′ puddle in a grassy field after many days without rain. Any guesses as to what the rough patch is? Please submit all interpretations under “Comments” on the Naturally Curious blog site. Answer will be revealed on June 18th.

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.


Mystery Photo

Using all the information provided above, do you know who has been here and why? If so, enter your answer by scrolling down on the Naturally Curious web page, clicking on “Comments” and writing your answer. Mystery will be solved on Monday, March 8th.

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. Thank you very much.


Meadow Vole Circles

Congratulations to “Maine Naturalist” and Stein for identifying not only that a Meadow Vole made the mystery tracks, but why they were circular! Thank you all for your comments, many of which were laughter-producing!    

More NC readers have witnessed this phenomenon than I would have imagined – the tracks were made by a Meadow Vole that had neurological problems which could have been caused by a brain parasite, brain tumor, inner ear infection, or a stroke. While the exact nature of an affected vole’s neurological impairment cannot be confirmed without the vole in hand, it is highly likely that a common brain parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, is responsible for a vole running in circles.

The snow-covered corn field where these tracks were located was just down the road from a dairy farm, where it’s likely cats could be found. This is relevant because cats pass this particular parasite on to rodents (and birds) who eat the cats’ feces.  The parasite goes to work on the brains of animals that have eaten cat feces, causing them to become disoriented (to the point where they lose their fear of cats).  Cats then eat the fearless rodents and the cycle continues.  When infected and disoriented, the rodents will often run in circles – hence, the unusual track pattern in the snow.

 T. gondii can infect humans, too, through consumption of under-cooked foods, contaminated drinking water, and through contact with cat feces.  This is why pregnant women are discouraged from tending kitty litter boxes, as the parasite can infect their unborn children.

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.


Mystery Photo

What or who do you think is responsible for these tracks in a snow-covered corn field?  To respond, go to the Naturally Curious blog (www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com ), scroll down to “Comments” and enter your solution to this mystery!  Answer will be announced this coming Friday, 2/5/21.

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.


Mystery Photo

If you think you know who has been feeding here, go to the Naturally Curious blog (www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com) and enter your answer under “Comments.” (Hint: photo taken in large agricultural field in Champlain Valley of Vermont.) Answer will be revealed on Monday, January 11. (Difficulty 1-10 = 10)

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.


Mystery Photo

Do you think you might know what this is part of?  The two structures that look like hot dogs are approximately 1/4″ long.  If you would like to hazard a guess, go to the Naturally Curious website, scroll down to “Comments” and submit your entry.  The answered will be in Monday’s Naturally Curious post.


Mystery Photo

If you think you recognize the subject of this Mystery Photo, please go to the Naturally Curious blog, scroll down to “Comments” and enter your thoughts.  Size:  3” x 1 ½”.  Hint:  found near a large body of water. (Discovered and submitted by Jody Crosby)

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Whirligig Beetles Active

Congratulations to Stein Feick, the first person to correctly identify the Mystery Photo as a Whirligig Beetle!  You usually see this aquatic beetle swimming around and around in circles on the surface of a pond searching for prey. A unique feature of most beetles in this genus is their divided eyes.  Each eye is completely separated into two portions (see photo). One portion (dorsal) is above the water line and the other (ventral) is beneath the water on each side of their head, allowing them to see both in the air/on the surface of the water as well as under the water.  The dorsal eyes have a limited field of view, so these beetles rest one of their antennae on the surface of the water to help them detect any motion caused by prey.

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.

 


Mystery Photo

Can you identify this Mystery Photo?  Hint:  In all likelihood if you’ve visited a pond, you have seen one.  If you think you might know what this creature is, go to the Naturally Curious blog site, scroll down to “Comments” and enter your guess.  The mystery will be solved on Wednesday, April 29th.

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.


Mystery Photo: A New Perspective

In my desire to show a close-up of the shredded nature of the bark-stripping in Friday’s Mystery Photo, I didn’t take into account that knowing the height of the stripping was as crucial to solving the mystery as the shredded bark!  Today, instead of revealing the creature that is responsible for this activity, I am posting a photograph that gives the viewer the perspective necessary to correctly identify the sign-maker. Please feel free to resubmit a guess with the aid of this added information if you would like to.  The photograph was taken within the last two weeks, and the sign was very fresh. The bark stripper’s identity will definitely be revealed on Wednesday, February 26th!

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.”


Mystery Photo

Who has been hard at work on this young Sugar Maple tree?  If you think you might know, go to the Naturally Curious blog site, scroll down to “Comments” and enter your guess.  The answer will be revealed on Monday, February 24th.  (Photo by Margaret Barker Clark)

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.”


Mystery Photo

Any idea who has been visiting these Sensitive Fern fertile fronds?  If so, go to the Naturally Curious blog, scroll down to “Comments” and enter yours.  Answer will be revealed in Friday’s post.

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.


Mystery Photo

Do you know what is responsible for the two parallel lines that run diagonally across the bottom of this photograph?  If so, enter your comment on the Naturally Curious blog.  Scroll down and click on “Comments.” Hint: there are numerous clues in photo.  Answer will be revealed on Wednesday’s (1/8/20) blog post.  (Photo by Mike Hebb)


Mystery Photo

Do you think you know who was here and what he/she was doing???  If so, go to the Naturally Curious website, scroll down to and click on “Comments” and enter your answer.  Wednesday’s post will reveal what transpired here.

(Photo by tracker/naturalist/wildlife videographer Alfred Balch.)

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.


Mystery Photo

Can you tell who has been here and what they were doing?  If so, share your explanation on the Naturally Curious website by scrolling down to “Comments.”  (Hint:  those are acorns scattered on the dirt.) Answer will be revealed on Wednesday, December 4. (Photo by Ashley Wolff)

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.

 


Red Squirrel Belly Flop

Congratulations to Mary Pratt, the first reader to correctly identify the impression a Red Squirrel left in the snow.  Red Squirrels are fiercely territorial, and will chase each other furiously in order to defend their territory and their food caches. The photographer, Susan Bull Riley, witnessed this behavior as she watched two Red Squirrels racing after each other in the crown of a maple tree.  Suddenly one of them fell to the ground, where sleet and wet snow cushioned its fall and recorded the belly flop landing.  No time was lost in the resumption of the chase!

There were many “Flying Squirrel” responses, which makes great sense as they are approximately the same size as a Red Squirrel (just an inch or two shorter in length) and are gliding from tree to tree or from tree to the ground.  My assumption is that a Flying Squirrel’s landing impression might show some of the patagium, or membrane, that stretches from a squirrel’s wrists to its ankles, due to the fact that it is extended as the squirrel glides. (Any firsthand Flying Squirrel landing-in-snow impression observations welcome.) Thanks to all who submitted an answer to this Mystery Photo.  Many were very amusing!

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.


Mystery Photo

What do you think made this six-inch-long impression in the snow?  Please enter guesses under “Comments” on the Naturally Curious blog (scroll down). Answer will be revealed on Monday, November 25.

(Photo by artist Susan Bull Riley – http://susanbullriley.com/ )

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.


Mystery Photo

I am often asked how I find the subjects that I photograph.  Sometimes I am consciously looking for specific plants and animals, but more often I’m simply looking for something that is either out of place or out of character.  In this particular instance, I noticed an American Beech sapling with leaves that were bunched up into an odd shape. If you think you know what caused this roughly 2-inch long x 1-inch wide, leaf-covered cylinder, go to the Naturally Curious blog (www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com), scroll down to “Comments” and enter your thoughts.  The answer will be revealed Monday, Oct. 7.

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.


Mystery Photo

Who’s peeking over this leaf???  Go to the Naturally Curious blog and scroll down to “Comments” to enter your response.  Imaginative answers welcome.  This mystery will be solved in Wednesday’s 9/4/19 post.

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.

 


Mystery Photo

4-17-19 mystery photo_U1A6864Whose tracks are these? This is a loaded question, as these particular tracks are not something you come across every day in the snow. Hints: You would not find these tracks in the dead of winter. The width of the pictured trail is roughly 12” – 16”. It ends in a shallow, open wetland. The photograph was taken two days ago.

Responses may be submitted by going to the Naturally Curious blog site (www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com) and scrolling down to and clicking on “Comments.”

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.