Wildlife


It looks like spring is finally arriving in New Hampshire, and with it, the opportunity to burn brush piles without a permit is fast evaporating. As long as there is snow on the ground, Northfield (and most other towns in New Hampshire) does not require a burn permit. So I got busy and lit one.

This snow is gone now

This snow is gone now


This brush pile was too big to light in situ. I was afraid the flames would climb a little too high and scorch the tree limbs that hang over it. I don’t think there were any tree limbs hanging over it when I started the pile, so that should give some idea as to how long I have been piling brush here.

Instead, I removed the brush from the pile and burned it in a much more controllable fire next to it. I thought I’d be out there until midnight, so I started the fire well before Beth was out of school. Unfortunately, it went quite a bit faster than I anticipated, and by the time she got home, it was nearly gone.

I saw another sign of spring on Thursday:

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)


These are the first flowers I’ve seen, and were blooming on the banks of the Merrimack River in Concord. When I got home after taking these shots, I went out and took down my sap buckets. There wasn’t much sap in them at all, and it had more of a yellowish color, so I dumped it out. All in all, I think I collected 8 or ten gallons of sap. I have boiled it most of the way down, but it needs to go a little more, as it’s still a little too thin. As is, I have almost a quart, but it will be less than that when I reduce it some more.

And now for some big news – last week I wrote that we were treated to the spectacle of an American Woodcock outside one of the windows at church. Well, I suppose that bird has taken up residence, as it was out there again today. The kids who go to school at our church tell me they’ve been seeing this bird all week. One kid wanted to throw a dodge ball at it, but one of my Pathfinders stopped him (yay!)

But I didn’t know about that until this morning. I was going to the Pathfinder trailer to get the rest of a flag pole when I heard the woodcock stir in the bushes, startled (but not too much I guess) at my arrival. He didn’t fly off, so I fetched my camera.

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

It started bobbing while I was taking pictures, so I went ahead and shot a little shakey hand-held video while I was out there.

Today was also a pretty big day for the Pathfinder Club. We drove up to the Laconia Church to present the worship service there. We’ve been working on another Biblical newscast. This one was taken from the Gospel of Mark, and included pre-recorded segments for our “live action reporters” as well as live, on-stage performances with our anchor crew who would interact with the pre-recorded performers.

We were supposed to present this at our church in Concord first, but a week before we were scheduled to do it, the external hard drive containing all our footage was plugged into the wrong power supply and bit the big one. So we rescheduled for April 13 and re-shot all the video. This meant that our second scheduled performance would become our first performance.

I’d post a link to the pre-recorded segments, but since they rely on banter with live, unrecorded people, it would be pretty confusing. We intend to record the live performance part too when we present in Concord, so if I can get my hands on that footage, I will link you to it.

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I got home from the ACSDR conference yesterday afternoon, and this morning I set out again – this time with Va, David, and Beth. We’re headed for Kentucky to visit family. Jonathan stayed home so he could work, and he agreed to take care of Penny while he holds down the fort.

We stopped in Pine Grove, PA for the night. While I was at the front desk registering, Va noticed some rabbits in the parking lot. So naturally, I went over to take a picture or two.

Little Bunny Foofoo

Is Bunny smoking?


This is not the same one Va had seen. When I approached that one it left the parking lot and went into the grass. I got a couple of shots of it, but they were slightly underexposed. Then I noticed another rabbit in the grass and took aim at it. This is one of those. Beth came out to look at them too, and she spotted two more that I missed.

Nice!

Today while I was finishing a nap, David took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I had just woken up, so I didn’t feel up to it. When he got back, the family had some supper, and by then, it was raining steadily.

But I have rain gear, so I thought I could take another solo walk down to the pond to see what I could see. David saw me putting on my rain pants, and decided he would join me. Cool! I was not expecting that. I asked Beth if she wanted to come, and to my surprise, she did too. Double bonus!

Penny knows when I’m going outside by any number of cues. I think this time it was the rain pants. Other things that will tip her off are the camera bag, my hat, and my shoes. By the time I grabbed my shoes she was in a frenzy and raring to go. She has a habit of sitting on my feet when I’m trying to put them on. I think it’s so I can’t get away without her being there, but it sure slows down the shodding process.

The four of us set out and didn’t get too far down the road before I saw a white iris. I guess that’s what it is:

White Iris

White Iris


I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these before. It was not there yesterday, because I took a picture of a day lily about three feet away then. I would have noticed. The day lily was in bloom again too.

By the time we got to the pond, the rain had stopped and the mosquitoes came out. They weren’t too thick though. The temperature was in the mid-fifties, so I was wearing a heavy shirt. Between that and my rain coat, they only had a shot at my hands and face, and they didn’t try very hard for those.

I found a mussel of some sort. I have never attempted to put an id on one of these, so I have no idea what species it might be. When I pulled it out of the edge of the water, it sucked in its pseudopod.

Beth holding a mussel

Beth holding a mussel


We put it back when we were done looking at it. I suppose it will become muskrat food soon enough. There are always piles of opened mussel shells on the shoreline, and since I know muskrats love to eat those, and since I have seen them here swimming under the ice, it’s probably safe to assume this is their work:
Muskrats need a busboy

Muskrats need a busboy


David borrowed my camera and took several shots of the pond. The fog was rising off the water and he was trying to capture that. Here’s one of his better shots:
Fog on Sandogardy

Fog on Sandogardy


I managed to get my three companions in a shot out on the dock:
On the dock

On the dock


We came home shortly after that shot was taken. I think everyone enjoyed the walk, and probably me most of all. Or maybe that would be Penny!

Today we slept in a bit, having been out past midnight (with Beth) the previous evening. We had a leisurely breakfast and then set out for the Toronto Zoo. We spent pretty much the whole day there. I took something like 400 pictures, but won’t post that many here by a long shot.

The highlight of the zoo visit came when we came to the zebra pen. There was a lone male zebra about 50 yards from the fence. I approached the fence at about the same time the zoomobile came roaring through. The zebra was somewhat startled and charged me!

Charging zebra

Charge!


He was braying like a donkey the whole time too. Sort of the haw without a hee I guess. Then he calmed down again.

We saw tons of animals, and spent something like six hours there. That is one recipe for sore legs. Beth’s favorite part was when we paid $6.00 for a camel ride:

Beth riding a camel

Beth, the camel jockey


When we got to the gift shop she went searching for a camel (and found one!) The stuffed camel cost more than twice as much as the camel ride.

We returned to our hotel and worked on choosing a restaurant for dinner, finally settling on The Pickel Barrel. I thought it was very good, and Va did not seem displeased with it either. They did take their time with her entree though, and offered free dessert to make it up. I was so stuffed though that I thought it would have been folly for me to eat another bite (even of a wafer thin mint!) so I passed.

I’ve long thought that restaurants should offer what I call “dolly service” for those times when you’re so stuffed you don’t want to get out of your chair. The wait staff would then come by with a furniture dolly, hoist your chair onto it and wheel you out to your car. Every guy I’ve ever talked to about this idea has thought it would be great, and every woman I have ever mentioned it to has been horrified.

There are five Pink Lady’s Slippers growing within about a 5 foot radius in my woods behind the house. I took several shots of them today, and I think this one is fairly representative of the best:

Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripredium acuale)

Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripredium acuale)

For the geocache I’m planning to hide, I have decided that it would be insane to try to cut a hole into the endgrain of a log section with a hole saw. Since the grain runs along the length of the log, it would be nearly impossible to pop out the section. Rather, I’m going to try to rig it up on my lathe and see what I can do that way. I will use my brace and bit to bore a hole into the part of the log that is still rooted to the ground though. That will prolly have a one inch diameter. Then I’ll turn a peg to fit into that hole on one end, and fit into the larger, lathe-bored hole on the other. We’ll see how it goes.

Jonathan comes home from Belgium tomorrow. He has been having a great time, and my heart is simply overflowing with joy for him. I can hardly wait to see him again and listen as he regales us with tales of his adventures. He has been keeping us up-to-date via email. I guess with Facebook too, but I have never been comfortable with FB, and have categorically refused to create an account there. With all the privacy changes they’ve been making over their short time in operation, I stand by that decision.

Tonight I downloaded abut a week’s worth of photos from my camera. I guess I’ve been getting lazy. Here’s a shot of the woodpecker I saw Saturday when I took my walk in the rain.

Common Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Common Flicker (Colaptes auratus)


I’m guessing this is a Common Flicker (Colaptes aurates), as that’s the closest match I can find in my Field Guide (Peterson again). Maybe Dad can confirm (or correct!)

I had also forgotten that I had taken a few (bad) photos of a pair of killdeers (Charadrius vociferous) at the church one morning this week after I dropped Beth off at school. None of these turned out very well, and part of that was because I took the shot through a dirty windshield. I figured that if I got out of the car or rolled down the window, the killdeer would have freaked out and started pretending to be injured (to draw me away from the nest). But since I have seen these two characters in the churchyard more than once now, I’m guessing they must have a nest there. That means I might have an opportunity to get some better shots (but we’ll see).

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous)

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous)


Hopefully it won’t turn out like the hobblebush photos. I stopped twice to try and get some good shots of those, and neither time did it work out very well. And now the blooms are gone and I’ll have to wait until next year.

The forecast for tonight is for us to get about an inch of snow. The North Country (i.e. Northern New Hampshire) is supposed to get 6-10 inches. Wow.

Fish and Game got back to me today and confirmed the identity of the wood turtle I saw yesterday. They also thanked me for the report, so yay me!

I noticed today that Google Maps finally has updated imagery of my house. Their previous imagery was taken before the house was built (construction started pretty close to six years ago). What was also painfully evident in the new imagery is the logging that was done about a quarter mile from my house. I still grieve for those woods, but at the same time, they weren’t mine, and I wouldn’t want anyone telling me I couldn’t cut them down if they were mine. Here’s what it looks like from space:


The green arrow is the forest that is now a field. The red A is a random something Google decided to plop down on the map. I’m not going to try to figure out how to make it go away, so you’ll hafta live with it I guess. It’s not my house.

It has been raining here all day, so I didn’t spend much time out in it. I did meet Jonathan at Dos Amigos for lunch, and then we headed back to the office together after we got our burritos. On the way I stopped and took a couple of photos of the redbud blossoms:

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

I walked around for five or ten minutes in the woods looking for starflowers (Trientalis borealis), but didn’t find any. Yesterday when I was doing that though, I found a book belonging to the Concord Public Library. One of the neighbor kids left it there. Beth has been playing with these kids a lot lately, and they all seem pretty nice. But I don’t think I’ll loan them any books! I made the kid who claimed it take it in his house right now. A couple weeks ago I found three pairs of kid’s footwear (two pairs of shoes and a pair of boots) by our swingset. They had been rained on. I had Beth deliver them to their house, and their mom was pretty relieved to know what had been happening to her kid’s shoes. I don’t know which kid they belonged to, but they were all the same size, and I’m guessing the inventory might have been significant;y depleted at that point.

Today just before lunch Va called me to let me know that Beth’s lunch was still on the counter top. Today was Beth’s first day back to school following Spring Break, and I guess we weren’t quite back in the swing of things. There was no time for Va to drive to the school before lunch, so I went to Taco Bell and got her something. I also grabbed something for myself. I got to the school just as Beth was leaving the classroom to get her lunchbox, so I guess that was cutting it pretty close.

I went to a small park near the church and ate there. This is a tiny little park, and you would never know it was there unless you knew it was there. So to speak. I parked the car and walked down to a little oxbow. There is a beaver lodge there, so I sat near it hoping to see some beavers. I saw a couple of Canada geese and dozens of redwing blackbirds, but no beavers.

Then I heard something crashing in the trees behind me. I turned around, but didn’t see anything. I watched. Pretty soon, I could see bushes shaking, but I still couldn’t see what was making all the ruckus. I got out my camera, stood up, and walked over there. Here’s what I saw:

Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)

Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)


I know that NH Fish & Game has an interest in turtles – they have a reporting program for reptiles and amphibians. Some species are endangered with extirpation in these parts, and F&G really wants to know about them. Well, I had no idea what kind of turtle I was looking at, so I took several photos, getting as close as I dared (a snapping turtle can remove a finger in an instant). I also had the GPS with me from our geocaching run on Saturday, so I turned that on, waited for it to lock, and then jotted down the coordinates.

When I got back to the office, I checked the F&G website. From the turtles they had listed there (complete with photos and identification tips), I decided that it was most likely a Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) – and that’s one fo the species F&G cares deeply about. So I sent in a report, complete with the photo above and the latitude and longitude.

I haven’t heard back from them, and I’m not sure I will. They can check it out if they so desire. But I sure thought it was cool seeing one. I never expected to see one on “the list.”

When I got home, I tramped through the woods some more. The gaywings (Polygala paucifolia) I wrote about yesterday have indeed opened now.

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)


Can you see the propeller, fuselage, and wings?

After that I worked a bit more on Beth’s cabin. I managed to get two more logs laid and fitted. It’s coming along.

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