Category Archives: Nature Detective

reworkings of the series Michael A. sends out to our TNS

Welcome to Winter!

Early January 2016

Welcome to Winter!! Many of us thought it would never arrive, but as of the last week of December, we’re in the midst of it now.  The snow-sleet-rain mix on Tuesday morning, December 9, and the short burst of snow (squalls) we saw on Monday, January 4, may be “standard fare” this winter according to Accuweather meteorologists and climatologists at the Climate Prediction Center.  Sure there will be an extended period of cold entering our area this coming week sometime, but not sure if we’ll have the snow like this past winter (my apologies, snow enthusiasts).  Don’t believe me?  Here are a few websites to check out AND monitor over the next few months:

*http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/seasonal.php?lead=1

*http://www.accuweather.com/

Here are some early Winter observations I’ve made during the last week of December while wandering along our lovely trails at Moose Hill:

tracks and hole

  • SNOW!! The light dusting on the ground in our forests, meadows, lawns, etc. left some crusty snow and ice throughout the sanctuary from the snow events mentioned above. The most perfect type of snow for…..Animal Tracking!! A very light amount of snow will capture those Track Prints and Track Patterns much better than deeper snow, and allow you to identify the culprits.  Ice will also “freeze those tracks in time”, so look out for tracks there as well.
    • During Vacation Days this past December, I lead a group of pre-teens down to the lower Ovenbird trail and we discovered a plethora of animal tracks, including some from a fisher. Such wonderfully diverse habitats to explore in this area of the sanctuary.
  • Bird Song and more!—Yes, I did hear a few black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, and Carolina wrens singing as I took my hike.  Not unusual for early January and maybe a “sign of things to come” this winter, as late in the month and into February is usually when they start-up.  Heard a few downy woodpeckers drumming as well.
    • Keep your eyes/ears to your bird feeders and mid-canopy this winter, that’s where these birds, and others, tend to hang out AND travel together in search of food (“flock switching”)—including tufted titmice, golden-crowned kinglets, brown creepers, and maybe a few others.
    • If you’re lucky enough, a few of the bolder birds such as chickadees, titmice (related, taxonomically), and even a few blue jays may flush out an owl if they squawk enough.  At Moose Hill, barred owls are the most commonly seen/heard species, and the best places to observe them (by chance) are in the vicinity of Moose Hill, along the Vernal Pool/Pepperbush trails, or the lower Ovenbird-Kettle trails.

Until the next time……

Keep those eyes-ears to the skies and ALL of your senses to the ground & to ALL that you surround!!!

Happy New Year! Prospero Ano!  Felice Anno Nuovo!

-Acciavatti “Instep Nonstop”

Nature Detective Notes by Michael Acciavatti. Michael is our full-time teacher naturalist who often heads out on the trails to stretch his legs and observe what is happening. His enthusiasm and knowledge make for wonderful updates about the nature of Moose Hill.