Close

Friends of Mass Audubon Wachusett Meadow

Just a few of the “friends” I’ve had the pleasure to see these past months at the Audubon Sanctuary in Princeton, MA.

Barred Owl
Red Squirrel
Phoebe
Sheep
Bobolink
Red-tailed Hawk
American Turkey
Black Bear
Red Fox
White-tailed Deer
Juvenile Raccoon
Great Blue Heron
Painted Turtles
Mallard Duck
Canada Goose
Black-capped Chickadee

Beaver Wetlands

Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary in Princeton, MA is home to an eighty-five acre beaver wetland–one of the largest in Massachusetts. A sign along the trails reminds visitors that:

• Beavers are a keystone species, providing habitat for many other animals and plants.

• Beaver wetlands are highly advantageous to wildlife, providing wetlands in various stages from open water to wet meadows.

•These wetlands provide habitat for moose, great blue heron, wood duck, dragonflies, amphibians and aquatic plants.

One of several beaver lodges partially covered with snow.
Last Summer, this beaver could be seen munching on plants most evenings.
Boardwalk at the edge of the wetlands with the snow just melting.
The long expanse of reeds. Benches give visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the landscape.
A wood duck box. I was fortunate to view this shy species of duck last summer.
The wind-blown reeds close-up.
A Great Blue Heron visits the main pond most Summer afternoons.

New England Thanksgiving

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.

IMG_3256IMG_3269IMG_3283IMG_3312IMG_3212turkeyIMG_3610IMG_0391IMG_3243Late afternoon SunIMG_3694 (1)IMG_3693

Wild Turkeys

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.

Version 3

turkeys in field

2 turkeys

feather close

34 turkey running5 feathersuse

A Keen Observer

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.

Version 2useIMG_8449IMG_8325IMG_8198

Snack Time

My point-and-shoot camera makes it easy to capture spur of the moment bird photos while enjoying a Fall walk.

IMG_7318IMG_7315nuthatch

Red Fox Kit

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.

IMG_0094IMG_0097IMG_0112IMG_0098IMG_0109IMG_0102IMG_9907IMG_9913IMG_0065IMG_0095

Nike Up Close

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”!

IMG_9138IMG_9116IMG_9097IMG_9120Version 2IMG_9106IMG_9095IMG_9112IMG_9111IMG_9108IMG_9125IMG_9140IMG_8094

Make Way For Mallards

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.

IMG_8724mallard 2mallard 3IMG_8737Version 2

Nike: Winged Victory

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.

IMG_7720IMG_7721IMG_7722IMG_7723

Beware of Ticks!

Yesterday I overheard some hikers bemoaning the presence of deer ticks. I think this red squirrel concurs with them. After checking itself, it was ready to move on.

Watch out for ticksIMG_7193

%d bloggers like this: