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”.
I never tire of watching the transformation of the monarch butterfly. In Massachusetts, this population seems to be on the rise after several years of dwindling numbers. What a pleasure to marvel at monarchs in my own yard once again!
This juvenile red-tailed hawk frequented the Wachusett Meadow Audubon for several days last week during hawk migration time. It perched quietly in trees near the main buildings, watching the comings and goings of nature enthusiasts. I can’t help but wonder if it was gathering strength for the long journey ahead.
I was startled and delighted to spot this red fox kit in my backyard. It didn’t run away until called sharply by its mother, so I had ample time to enjoy its large black twitching ears and black legs, as well as its white-tipped tail, which is a key differentiation between a gray and a red fox.
In mythology, foxes are often described as sly and cunning. This kit, like most young animals, didn’t bring those characterizations to mind. It was completely charming in all its innocence, curiosity and playfulness.
A few days ago, I highlighted a beautiful Canada goose I named Nike in honor of its incredible wings. Yesterday, I was able to consider in more depth features of this prevalent New England bird.
Canada geese arrive at this pond at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary in early Spring and raise families before leaving in the Fall. Likeable and easy-going, they are comfortable co-existing with human visitors. I was able to easily photograph their famed “goose necks”, intricate layers of feathers, startling dark eyes, and bills that are perfectly attuned to their habitat. Because of my intimate visits with them, I no longer consider these engaging and attractive birds “just ordinary geese”!
Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way For Ducklings” (1941) is a classic children’s story of a mallard couple who raise a family in a park in Boston, Massachusetts. When I was a primary school teacher, I read this imaginative book dozens of times to my students.
It was wonderful to pass a peaceful hour observing a real mallard couple at the Audubon. Their vibrant colors, patterns and serene presence were delightful. It was easy to understand why McCloskey chose to feature these creatures in his story.
Recently I was thrilled to witness a Canada Goose displaying its wings in a gorgeous and dramatic fashion. It reminded me of Nike, the goddess of Victory, the sister of Kratos (Strength), Bia (Force), and Zelus (Zeal). She was most often portrayed with wings and was known as a divine charioteer who flew over the battlefield bestowing laurels upon the victors. She was one of the most frequently portrayed symbols on Greek coins.