Almost as soon as we posted the last Nature Detective Notes, there was an abundance of activity that needed to be added, so here’s a little update about what’s happening out and about at Moose Hill.
Timberdoodles!!—these amazing upland shorebirds (also known as the American Woodcock) are back from the southern US to stake out a breeding territory along forest edges/wet meadows AND perform their famous “courtship flight dance”; They seem to be “on time” in their arrival when I look at previous years notes; I observed them a few nights ago above the wide meadows on The Trustees property that abuts Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. At least 6 separate males “dancing” through the air (the whistling, twittering, etc. being caused by wind passing through their wings). I also heard them making their characteristic, “BEENT! BEENT!” call from the ground and air; VERY difficult to visually observe in flight due to their erratic behavior, and on the ground because of their wonderful ability to camouflage.
Brown Creepers!—I heard a few of these little tree climbers singing the other morning (earlier than I usually hear them) up at the Upper Sugarbush – that’s an area of Sugar Maples off of the Billings Loop, just past the Billings and Bat barns. A lovely, “whistling-type” song that always reminds me of a weaker version of the Eastern Meadowlark…just in the forest.
Eastern Bluebirds!—I’ve noticed a few pairs staking out nesting territories in several of our fields that have cavity nesting boxes; so wonderful to have them back and pretty much on time, preceding the arrival of the more aggressive Tree Swallows. Check out their lovely (albeit weak), little warble:
Spring Peepers!—Yes, these little chorus frogs CAN be heard singing almost any time of year, with the exception of hot, summer days/nights OR the deep cold of Winter; they’ve been commonly heard “peeping”, or really “attempting to peep or squeak” at least once each month (early December-early March) during this second mildest winter on record. Because it is still early in the season, their activity is limited….BUT I did hear them chorusing a little bit in the large wetland beside the Pepperbush Trail. Remember, “as frogs go”, they are habitat generalists and much more adaptable to varying conditions (weather, etc.) than our obligate, Wood Frogs.
Skunk Cabbage!—You might “smell” the flowers of this common, swamp/wetland plant a good distance before you actually see it! Their presence along the main boardwalk through the Swamp appears to be on time this year, and with snow/ice-free surfaces, they may continue to flower a bit longer, especially if the water level is kept up (moderating the temperature and all)
Have you observed or heard something on your visit to Moose Hill? Please share!
Until then, be well and enjoy this glorious, Spring day,
Michael 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. We hope that you will be inspired to head out on our trails as well and enjoy the changes that each season, or better yet, each month bring to Moose Hill. We look forward to seeing you here!