Thursday, January 21, 2021

New Film: Beaver Pond Wildlife- Part 1

 In a place like New England, or most anywhere else in the country for that matter, those of us who are fascinated by the daily goings-on of animals can get our wildlife fix at a beaver pond. A brief stop at the pond may or may not reward us with some kind of animal action, but a longer stay almost always will. 


Osprey captures fish
Osprey captures fish

Things typically don't happen in rapid-fire succession here; rather, there's usually a series of events with periods of relative quiet between them. So, it's become my habit to sit patiently and as still as possible at a pond, hopefully concealed in whatever vegetation is available. I minimize my movements, and try to scan the pond with eye movements only. I'm virtually always rewarded. There may be animals I expect to see (ducks, turtles, etc), but every once in a while, something unexpected appears too. Those are the more "mysterious" creatures that I rarely get a glimpse of... perhaps otters; a fisher; maybe a mink or a bobcat. Or, one of the less charismatic creatures does something out of the ordinary.


Canada goose and muskrat
Goose and muskrat



The seasons make a difference in what is likely to be seen. Spring brings a flurry of activity, as many birds return from wintering grounds to set up households, and wildlife in general is re-energized and bringing new young into the world. Summer is alive with buzzing insects of all kinds (eg, dragonflies), frogs, and juveniles of many other species make their appearance. In late summer and fall, the great din of life recedes as birds migrate away, and other creatures may be more nocturnal. 


Bobcat at beaver pond
Bobcat at beaver pond

Winter is certainly the quietest time, but there is life around the pond, both in and out of the water. It's more demanding to sit patiently in the cold, and I don't do that very often. But there's still much to see and learn... tracks in the snow, for example, can tell fascinating stories. Why, you can even gain a much greater awareness of your own toes, as they scream to be propped up by a warm wood stove!

And while you're toasting your toes, you may want to ease back in your comfy chair and vicariously spend even more time at the pond by watching our newest Youtube film... "Beaver Pond Wildlife: Part 1 - Early Spring". This is the first part of what will be a multi-part series covering a year's time at beaver ponds. Subsequent parts will be available in the near future. I'm confident this series will bring you some things you've never seen.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

New Film: The Magic Maples of New England



The northeastern quadrant of the United States is fortunate to be treated to an annual spectacle... the fluorescent foliage of fall. Many of our tree species here in New England present a glorious display, but as a group, the maples win the prize for the widest range of colors.

You might think we Yankees would all be confident in our ability to distinguish each local maple species from its kin, given that no other place on Earth can match this pageant. But if you can't, there's no need to cower in shame; you just need to watch our latest film, The Magic Maples of New England. All will be made clear. Plus, you can get another take at the autumn finery!

The film features two forest tree experts: Bob Leverett, co-founder of the Native Tree Society and co-author of The Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast; and dendrochronologist Neil Pederson, Senior Ecologist at Harvard Forest. Each of New England's native maple species is described in detail. 

And now, to set the mood for the film, here is an essay by Bob Leverett about one of his favorite trees, "Magic Maple", which inspired the making of this film.


Magic Maple


Robert T. Leverett

Magic Maple’s Essence

Magic Maple is a mature red maple (Acer rubrum) that grows in the northern part of Mohawk Trail State Forest in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. Magic stands in a small cove above the Deerfield River, one of the most scenic areas in Massachusetts. Some of the tallest, most statuesque trees in all New England grow in this region.

As we climb uphill from the river, the inviting sounds of the rushing waters put us into a mood of receptivity. We have entered a place that black bear, bobcat, beaver, deer, and even an occasional moose call home. The area around Magic reminds us that not all the East suffers from the impact of daily human activities. Here, nature has reclaimed that which is rightfully hers and is building a monument to herself through a wealth of stately trees. 

We ascend, reaching a gently sloping area that served as a sheep pasture in the mid-1800s. We are entering the domain of tall trees growing on an old river terrace, a glacial remnant. A white ash reaches a height of 145.2 feet, as measured by botanist and tree-measurer extraordinaire Jared Lockwood, with one higher on the steep ridge approaching 150 feet. Two white pines approach 160 feet.

Entering this superlative forest, sensitive souls may feel a shift in the energy. It is a feeling that no young forest can inspire.

The steepening contours of the mountain hide spots of exquisite beauty. From a distance, these places can only be imagined. The following springtime image showcases sugar maples and budding oaks.