Winter has transformed the Wildlife Pond at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon in Princeton, MA. The beaver lodge has a chunky white coating, while other areas of the pond sparkle with ice ranging from rough and jagged to windblown and smooth. The red and gold vegetation at the pond edges lends a delicate frame to this “ice world”.
Pumpkins, Fall vegetation, colonial houses, and snowy landscapes dotted with the creatures that inhabit them all evoke a traditional New England Thanksgiving. Wishing you a wonderful holiday from Central Massachusetts.
In recent years, wild turkeys have become a very common sight in Massachusetts. While they look rather plain and brown from a distance, a closer inspection reveals feathers of a wide variety of subtle patterns and hues. The males’ iridescent feathers shine with green, red, bronze, copper and gold. Both males and females have a distinctive “wattle”, a fleshy red piece of skin that hangs beneath the neck.
In the late Fall, meadows in New England are bursting with milkweed pods, which furnish monarch caterpillars with the only food they will eat. A huge effort is underway to plant more milkweed to stop the recent decline in the monarch population.
Gray squirrels look particularly luxurious in the late Fall as they busily hide acorns and then forget where they put them. In this way, they are responsible for planting over one million oak trees each year!
This northern cardinal, high above me on his windy perch, spotted me photographing him. With feathers rustling in the wind, his watchful eye followed me attentively. With a sudden flash of brilliant red, he swooped down to command the bird feeders, constantly checking out the action around him. It wasn’t until he was at ground level that he seemed curiously unconcerned with the small mammals hunting for seeds with him.
Winter birds such as the white-crowned sparrows and dark-eyed juncos have been appearing at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon in Princeton, MA. Surprisingly, I spotted an eastern bluebird still hanging around with them. Perhaps he belongs to a group that has wintered here in recent years.
These finches paused long enough for me to spot “purple finch identifiers” : the males sported slight peaks on their heads with raspberry coloring on both the heads and backs. The female, although more subtly colored, had clearly visible distinct white marking above the eyes .