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Results 1 - 15 of 15
1. Wednesday Wild: Nuthatches

© Loree Griffin Burns

© Loree Griffin Burns

This past weekend we set out our bird feeders; I’ve been staring out windows ever since. The usual fellows are visiting: tufted titmice, chickadees, dark-eyed juncos, blue jays, cardinals, mourning doves, downy woodpeckers. And white-breasted nuthatches, like the one in the image above. I’ve always loved the tidy nuthatches, so sharp-looking in their crisp gray and black feathers. But on Saturday, I spotted a pair that didn’t look quite right to me. They were scruffier than usual. Buffier in the breast. Wearing strange eye patches. Wait a second …

RED-breasted nuthatches!

I’ve not seen red-breasted nuts at my home feeders in more than fifteen years of watching. We’ve not added a new-to-us species to our birding journal since this sharp-shinned hawk stopped by last year. And I’ve not felt so grateful for a bird since this little brown creeper cheered up the winter of 2010.

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary in life,” Rachel Carson once said. This weekend, her words rang truer than ever.

Happy Wednesday, friends. I hope it’s a wild one.


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2. Wednesday Wild: The Very Hungry Porcupine

© Loree Griffin Burns

I hiked through my local MassAudubon Sanctuary this week and came across this guy snacking in the middle of a trail. I took some pictures, sure he’d take off as soon as he heard the shutter click. When he didn’t, I moved in closer, shooting all the while.

Nibble. Nibble. Nibble.

“Hello?”

Nibble. Nibble. Nibble.

“Are you deaf?”

Nibble. Nibble. Nibble.

What choice was there? I took the long way back to the car.


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3. Wednesday Wild: Tiger Moth

© Loree Griffin Burns



I’m cheating a bit, because I didn’t actually spend a moment in the wild today. Or yesterday. And things aren’t looking too good for tomorrow either. Some weeks are like that. The good news is that all this inside-at-my-desk time translates into a steadily lengthening rough draft of my new book. (Hooray!) And since I’m sort of a wildlife-in-my-backyard junkie, I always have a backup photograph to share…

I found this moth dazed under the porch lights one night last week and was struck by its size and bright markings. It was fairly easy to identify it (through my favorite online insect field guide, bugguide.net) as a tiger moth. I followed up with my trusty handheld field guide (Caterpillars of Eastern North America, by David L. Wagner) and was surprised with this tidbit: “Adults, when gently squeezed, may bubble generous amounts of their yellow “blood” out of the front corners of the thorax …”

Eww. I did not try it.


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4. Wednesday Wild: Barn Swallows

Photos © Loree Griffin Burns

 

Can you see them up there? They’re nesting in our barn and have been lovely tenants. (I am a bit worried, however, that once the babies come we will have to park our cars somewhere else.)

Anyway, our barn swallows are wishing you a Happy Fourth of July …

© Loree Griffin Burns

 

… a day filled with friends and family and finery. And a little wild, too.


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5. Wednesday Wild: Vacation Edition

© Loree Griffin Burns

You know I love the wild in my own backyard … but this summer I had the chance to venture outside of it and explore another wild place: Acadia National Park.

Oh, my. It’s a spectacular place!

On one of my favorite adventures, we found this baby turtle sunning and stretching its legs (if you look closely you can see the stretching) on a pond not far from Eagle Lake on Mount Desert Island. If pictures came with audio, this one would feature the croaking of frogs, the chattering of squirrels, the squawking of crows, and the gentle rain of wind moving through the surrounding forest. Heavenly.


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6. Wednesday Wild: Question Mark Butterfly

© Loree Griffin Burns

 

I had to pull out my trusty butterfly field guides in order to ID this fellow. See that white marking on the hind wing, the one that looks like a question mark on its side? That was the key.

Happy Wednesday!


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7. Wednesday Wild: Mystery Mushroom

© Loree Griffin Burns

On my bedside table at the moment is David Arora’s MUSHROOMS DEMYSTIFIED. I’m not very far along yet, which may explain why I can’t tell you what kind of mushroom I’ve captured in the image above. I can tell you that mushrooms were plentiful in my part of New England this past Saturday; I saw dozens of species on a single trail at the Trout Brook Reservation in Holden, Massachusetts. And couldn’t ID a single one. Guess I’ll keep reading David’s book ….

Have a wild Wednesday!


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8. Wednesday Wild: Honey of a Bee

© Loree Griffin Burns


On Sunday I watched this honey bee, most likely living in the hives my neighbors keep, work our sedum plants. In fact, it’s possible that I watched her collect nectar that will end up in my tea–in me!–come winter. Humbling.


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9. Wednesday Wild: Antlers

© Loree Griffin Burns

Yesterday Ellen Harasimowicz and I tagged along as Dr. Maya Nehme went out into the wilds of Worcester county to check the Asian Longhorned Beetle traps we’d watched her set earlier this summer. (You can read about that adventure here.) While snapping photographs, Ellen managed to spot a small antler in the grass. Just as I was saying, “Keep your eyes open, because I read somewhere that deer usually shed both antlers at the same time …”, I stepped on a second antler! I’m not sure who was more excited: Ellen, me, or my daughter, who posed for the photo above as soon as we got home.

Have a great and wild Wednesday!


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10. Wednesday Wild: Stinkhorn

© Loree Griffin Burns

I found this strange musrhoom growing at the edge of the front lawn. It’s a stinkhorn, and I now know where the name comes from; they really stink! The over-sweet smell is distinctive, and designed, I’ve since read, to attract flies, which land on the slime-coated tip of the mushroom, muck about, and fly off with spores stuck to their legs. Stinky, but clever.

Happy Wednesday …


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11. Wednesday Wild: Shagbarks

We’re moving. If you have ever moved, you can probably relate to how I’m feeling these days: harried, overwhelmed, excited, and sad. The sad part has to do with saying goodbye to a place that has been Home to my family for a decade. For ten years, we’ve worked the soil here, and trampled the grass and climbed the trees and lived with the wildlife. We know this place in a way that no one else does, and it is very hard to let that go. Those trees up there, for example, are two of a dozen or so shagbark hickories that we have come to know. The new owners will surely love them as much, but when they wonder why the one on the right has no shag at the bottom, who will tell them?  Who will describe the little boys who grew up playing under that tree? Little boys who one day ran their chubby hands over those tags and strips of glorious hanging bark and couldn’t help but pull. And pull. And pull.  I’m sad that this story will come away with us, and that the lovely, generous, naked-at-the-bottom-shaggy-at-the-top hickory will not.


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12. Back to Work

© Loree Griffin Burns

After a long and busy month of traveling and packing and moving and unpacking and celebrating and, truth be told, worrying about the work I was neglecting all the while, this morning I get back to work. I got up early, excited to begin, but was stopped short by this breathtaking sunrise. For me, it was a reminder to strive for balance. Work, yes, but enjoy beauty and family and all the rest, too. Every day. Somehow, some way, make room for all of it.

So I spent some time outside with my camera, had breakfast with the boys, walked the little miss to school. Had a cup of tea. And now, with a deep breath of gratitude for the many facets of this gorgeous morning, I’m ready to begin.

Have a wonderful Monday, friends.


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13. Wednesday Wild: Snow

© Loree Griffin Burns


On Saturday, we central New Englanders saw the first true snowfall of the winter. Where I live, we got about five inches, just enough to strap on snowshoes and head out into the wild. My family and I explored the woods near our new house, tracked a neighbor dog, brushed flakes from hearty mushrooms, and stumbled into an area that had, moments before our arrival, been a resting place for four deer. I took photos of the woods and the tracks and the mushrooms and the deer beds, of course, but none of them pleased me as much as the image above. Is there anything as exciting as the rush into untrodden, new-fallen, long-awaited snow?

Happy Wednesday, friends!


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14. Wednesday Wild: Catbird

© Loree Griffin Burns

© Loree Griffin Burns



One of my sons has been learning to bird by ear, and he’s inspired me to try it myself. It’s hard! In fact, I’ve found that the few bird sounds I did recognize by ear have been pushed right out of my brain by the flurry of new calls and songs that I’ve been trying to cram in there. Thankfully, our resident catbird (above) has made it his personal mission, it seems, that I not forget his mew call.

Wanna hear it?

If you press that link, scroll down, hit the play arrow on the audio file labeled “mew call”, and repeat for an hour or two, you’ve got the soundtrack to my Wednesday.

Catchy, no?


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15. Wednesday Wild: Spotted Surprise

© Loree Griffin Burns

Spotted salamanders are famous for their springtime congresses, when males and females migrate in huge numbers from the woodlands where they’ve spent the winter to the vernal pools in which they will mate. I’ve spent many a warm and rainy spring evening hanging out around the local vernal pool with a flashlight strapped to my head, hoping for a good show. (No, I’m not the only whackadoo that does this sort of thing; for a sense of what draws us out there, read this. Or this.)

Anyway, I have never, ever seen a spotted salamander outside of that spring migration. But on Saturday, a day before Hurricane Irene crashed through Massachusetts, my husband unearthed this little fellow in the garden. He was kind enough to pose for a picture.

Here’s to some wild in your Wednesday …


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