Do you have any young Scientists in your home. I do. Nature Mapping or Species Mapping has become a wonderful family project for us. Using field glasses, infra-red cameras, trail cams and even microscopes will inspire your young Scientists and the ceiling is limitless. Below, my granddaughter, the aspiring veterinarian. I have just as much fun as they do.
My older granddaughter, photographing red wing black birds at Oliver Mill in Middleboro, MA
Carrion beetles are a family of beetles that feed on the bodies of dead and decaying animals. Carrion beetles are important because they get rid of dead matter by eating it and breaking it down into smaller pieces that can be placed back into the ecosystem. A red tail hawk had dropped this squirrel from a tree after failing to secure it. Let the feast begin. This wasn’t a very pleasant video for the girls. But after discussing the benefits of the carrion beetle, it became a bit more tolerable, almost.
The Red Tail hawk, catches our eye sitting on the backyard swing set. Looks like the hawk is on a mission. We soon find out. Scanning the ground below, a foresting American Woodcock. Actually two of them. Camouflaged against the dry leaves, the brown-mottled American Woodcock walks slowly along the ground, probing the soil with its long bill in search of earthworms. They sometimes rock their bodies (as seen in this short video) backward and forward as they forage, shifting their weight heavily from foot to foot. The vibrations from this motion may prompt earthworms to move underground, making slight sounds that the woodcock may be able to hear or feel. Hunting has not been shown to influence large-scale population trends, however, because they forage on the forest floor, woodcocks can accumulate pesticides in their bodies from aerial spraying against forest-insect pests. Their heavy diet of earthworms makes them vulnerable to poisoning by lead, cadmium, and other heavy metals.
Videos may be grainy, due to long telephoto lens used. Shaky video is better than no video.
Although this short twilight video is grainy, we can still be awed by the playfulness of the pups. Practice for when they venture out on their own.
Coyote sniffing for the fox pups. Later that evening, the Coyote found the den. The mother fox created a decoy by yelping to draw attention to her, and not the pups. At this time, the pups, growing older, were getting ready to leave the den. Over the next few days, only 3 out of the 8 were left at the den. Within a few more days of the coyote sightings, neither mom or any pups were seen again.
Suspected White-nose syndrome, caused by fungus that is common in Europe, where bats are immune to it. It was likely carried across the Atlantic by a tourist who dropped some spores in Howe Caverns, in New York. By 2013, the die-off had spread to 22 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces. This bat on our deck, seemed to be in distress. Although, the still images show some visible white fungal growth on the bat’s muzzle, this is not a reliable indicator of the syndrome. The video was taken Mar 14, 2011, north Dighton, MA. Outdoor temperature at 39 degrees.
Below Image: White spots may be the syndrome.
A green space, Oliver Mill Park, in Middleboro, MA, is a great place to bring the family. The Nemasket River and the surrounding area are fantastic ecological neighborhoods to explore with the kids. Below is a short video of herring migration. Also, below, A great blue heron, with Sea Lamprey in its bill. Yes, Sea Lamprey.
Northern Black Racer, North Dighton, MA There are several black racer subspecies with ranges through different areas of the US. The range of the northern black racer is generally from southern Maine to eastern Ohio and south to northern South Carolina, northern Georgia, northern Alabama and northeastern Mississippi. Northern black racers inhabit all but the extreme northeastern corner of Connecticut. Their population has been declining from habitat loss. Northern Black racers are active hunters and eat insects, frogs, toads, small birds and small mammals. They pursue prey and swallow them whole. Although coils may be used to hold prey to the ground, they do not kill by constriction. (Connecticut Wildlife)
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Robin treats fledgling to a tasty worm. For the first four days of a nestling’s life, the parent birds regurgitate partly digested food into each baby’s mouth. By five days of age, the nestlings get earthworms that parents break into small mouthfuls. The babies eat more each day. Soon parents give them whole worms and large insects. Each young robin may eat 14 feet of earthworms in a two-week nest life—and worms are not even their main food! Did you know they start learning the sounds their parents make.