Author Archives: Ryan D.

About Ryan D.

Where: Mass Audubon Headquarters, Lincoln | Who: A Vermont expat with maple sap in her veins | Favorite part of the job: Exploring sanctuaries with camera in hand.

Snowy Park Bench © Priya Ramachanriya Surendranath

Take 5: Falling Snow

There’s something a bit magical about falling snow. Sounds become muted and soft, many winter birds and other wildlife seek shelter to conserve energy, and a gentle hush falls over the natural world.

Here are five photos that capture the soft quietude of a winter snowfall, taken from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Visit our website to see the recently announced winners of the 2018 contest. We’ll be announcing the dates and locations for the traveling exhibit for the 2018 winners soon, so keep an eye on the blog for details.

Red-tailed Hawk © Christopher Ciccone
Red-tailed Hawk © Christopher Ciccone
Snowy Landscape © Karen Karlberg
Snowy Landscape © Karen Karlberg
Northern Cardinal © Nathan Butler
Northern Cardinal © Nathan Butler
Snowy Park Bench © Priya Ramachanriya Surendranath
Snowy Park Bench © Priya Ramachanriya Surendranath
White Pine cone © Claudia Carpinone
White Pine cone © Claudia Carpinone
Harlequin Duck © Carol Duffy

Take 5: Winter Ducks

Winter is a wonderful time to see some colorful characters around your neighborhood—namely wintering waterfowl. In late fall and winter, the majority of waterfowl species return to wearing their bright and more colorful breeding plumages and with more than 25 species of ducks, geese, and swans that regularly spend the winter in Massachusetts, you’ll have lots to add to your birding list.

Here are five species of ducks you may spot hanging around lakes, ponds, rivers, and ocean-side viewpoints, depending on their preferred habitat. Learn more about wintering waterfowl in the winter issue of Explore member magazine and find an expert naturalist-led winter birding trip hosted by a wildlife sanctuary near you.

All of these photos were submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Check out the recently-announced winners of the 2018 contest today!

Harlequin Duck © Carol Duffy
Harlequin Duck © Carol Duffy
Red-breasted Merganser © David Peller
Red-breasted Merganser © David Peller
Ring-necked Duck © Lea Fiega
Ring-necked Duck © Lea Fiega
Common Eider © David Sheehy
Common Eider © David Sheehy
Northern Pintail © Roger Debenham
Northern Pintail © Roger Debenham
Other Wildlife Under 18 Winner © Francis Morello

Take 5: 2018 Photo Contest Winners (Under 18)

There are a lot of talented young people taking beautiful nature photographs and we were lucky enough to have many of them submit their work to the 2018 Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

We highlighted the 18 and Over photo contest winners a couple weeks ago, so now let’s appreciate some of the winners of the Under 18 categories. You can browse through all the winners from this year and past years on our website.

Other Wildlife Under 18 Winner © Francis Morello
Other Wildlife Under 18 Winner © Francis Morello
Mammals Under 18 Winner © Jordan Kanes
Mammals Under 18 Winner © Jordan Kanes
Plants & Fungi Under 18 Winner © Sean Henderson
Plants & Fungi Under 18 Winner © Sean Henderson
People in Nature Under 18 Winner © Nicole Nelson
People in Nature Under 18 Winner © Nicole Nelson
Birds Under 18 Winner © Davey Walters
Birds Under 18 Winner © Davey Walters

In Your Words: Camper Mia Papazian

Fourteen-year-old Mia Papazian loves hip-hop, dance, Spanish class, ice hockey, and camp. She has attended Boston Nature Center (BNC) Summer Camp in Mattapan since she was five. Here, this nature hero tells us what keeps her coming back every summer.


Mia Papazian
Mia Papazian

I have always been “into” nature, even though my family never camped before. I like the smell of the breeze and the fresh air, looking at plants and animals and bugs… there’s nothing I don’t like about being outdoors.

That’s why I started coming to camp at BNC. There are so many parts of camp I love, it’s hard to pick a favorite! Some of my best memories are the sleepovers—staying overnight at camp with my friends, sleeping in tents, learning how to build a fire, and making s’mores.

I really enjoy the nature walks. Before I came to camp, I used to be afraid of bugs. But during these walks we learned a lot about plants and insects. Now, I would never kill a bug, and if I see one inside, I bring it outside.

Mia (third kayak from right) paddling while volunteering at Wildwood, Mass Audubon’s overnight camp.

The counselors are also amazing. They’re really nice and I feel like I can trust them because I’ve known most of them for years, including Rebecca, Kim, and Zimmie. To me, a “nature hero” is somebody that’s passionate about nature and excited to learn, and that’s what the camp counselors are like.

This past summer was my first year as an LIT (Leader-in- Training), and it was so fun. I loved working with the Owls (the youngest camper group). They’re really cute. I got to read stories to them and take them on nature walks. I hope that they had fun, too, and learned to love and respect nature, each other, and the counselors, like I do.


In Your Words is a regular feature of Mass Audubon’s Explore member newsletter. Each issue, a Mass Audubon member, volunteer, staff member, or supporter shares his or her story—why Mass Audubon and protecting the nature of Massachusetts matters to them. If you have a story to share about your connection to Mass Audubon, email explore@massaudubon.org to be considered for In Your Words in a future issue! 

Birds 18 and Over Winner © Kim Caruso

Take 5: 2018 Photo Contest Winners (18 and Over)

The votes are in and the judges have made their picks—the 2018 Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest winners are in!

The entries this year were beyond impressive, especially in the oft-overlooked People in Nature category. Your birds, mammals, insects, landscapes, and portraits really wowed us.

See five of the 18 and Over winners from this year’s contest below and browse through all the winners from this year and past years on our website.

Grand Prize/Landscapes 18 and Over Winner © Evan Guarino
Grand Prize/Landscapes 18 and Over Winner © Evan Guarino
Mammals 18 and Over Winner © Victor Zigmont
Mammals 18 and Over Winner © Victor Zigmont
Birds 18 and Over Winner © Kim Caruso
Birds 18 and Over Winner © Kim Caruso
People in Nature 18 and Over Winner © Diana Chaplin
People in Nature 18 and Over Winner © Diana Chaplin
Plants 18 and Over Winner © Matt Cembrola
Plants 18 and Over Winner © Matt Cembrola
Dark-eyed Junco © Andy Eckerson

Take 5: So Many Sparrows

Sparrows have a reputation for being a bit tricky for beginning birders to identify. Thankfully, the colder months are a good time to get some practice in, with several common species overwintering here in Massachusetts, including American Tree Sparrows, White-Throated Sparrows, and Dark-eyed Juncos (yes, they belong to the sparrow family!). Most sparrows are primarily seed-eaters and are often seen feeding on the ground, so a good place to look for them is on the ground beneath your bird feeders where the seed naturally falls.

A great way to hone your sparrow-identification skills is to spend time with more advanced birders and learn on-the-fly (pun absolutely intended). See a list of upcoming birding programs at our sanctuaries to find a trip near you and enjoy these five diverse photos of sparrows from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

Savannah Sparrow © Phil Doyle

Savannah Sparrow © Phil Doyle

Song Sparrow © Mike Shachook

Song Sparrow © Mike Shachook

Dark-eyed Junco © Andy Eckerson

Dark-eyed Junco © Andy Eckerson

White-Throated Sparrow © Katherine Sayn-Wittgenstein

White-Throated Sparrow © Katherine Sayn-Wittgenstein

Fox Sparrow © Alberto Parker

Fox Sparrow © Alberto Parker

Woodchuck © Alyssa Mattei

Take 5: Where Did All the Woodchucks Go?

Woodchucks (also known as groundhogs) are among the few “true hibernators” found in Massachusetts. In late summer they begin to put on weight in preparation for the move to their winter dens, often located in wooded areas. From October through March, woodchucks settle in for a long snooze and turn their metabolisms waaaaay down to burn as little energy as possible. While hibernating, a woodchuck’s body temperature drops from 99°F to 40°F, and its heartbeat drops from 100 beats per minute to 4 beats per minute! Visit our Nature & Wildlife pages to learn more about woodchucks.

They may not be conscious to appreciate it, but here are five photos of woodchucks from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest for you to enjoy.

Woodchuck © Alyssa Mattei

Woodchuck © Alyssa Mattei

Woodchuck © David Zulch

Woodchuck © David Zulch

Woodchuck © Diane Lomba

Woodchuck © Diane Lomba

Woodchuck © Ronald Vaughan

Woodchuck © Ronald Vaughan

Woodchuck © M Leach

Woodchuck © M Leach

 

Red-bellied Woodpecker © Leigh Scott

Take 5: Peek-a-boo!

This week’s Take 5 is a fun roundup of animals playing peek-a-boo with the camera. Whether they’re curious or camera-shy, these cute critters sure do make great hide-and-seekers.

Thank you to everyone who has submitted images to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. We’ll be announcing the winners of the 2018 contest soon, so stay tuned!

Barred Owls © Fred Harwood

Barred Owls © Fred Harwood

Painted Turtle © Michael Ross

Painted Turtle © Michael Ross

Weasel © Steve Flint

Weasel © Steve Flint

Otter © Amy Severino

Otter © Amy Severino

Red-bellied Woodpecker © Leigh Scott

Red-bellied Woodpecker © Leigh Scott

© Glenn Rifkin

Take 5: Bottoms Up!

Waterfowl exhibit a whole host of different feeding behaviors, like diving, grazing, or foraging. The most common, however (or at least the most commonly recognized) is “dabbling” or “tipping”. Dabbling ducks like the Mallards pictured below will simply “tip up” in shallow water to forage on the aquatic plants along the bottom. Swans, geese, and teals also display this behavior, although their varying neck lengths allow each species to access food at different depths. It’s a perfectly practical adaptation but one that can certainly be amusing to watch.

Here are five photos of Mallards dabbling away for your amusement. All of these photos have been submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Bottoms up, duckies!

Mallards © Glenn Rifkin

Mallards © Glenn Rifkin

Mallards © Nicole Mordecai

Mallards © Nicole Mordecai

Mallards © Kris Bates

Mallards © Kris Bates

Mallards © Keith Gerrard

Mallards © Keith Gerrard

Mallards © Denise Cote

Mallards © Denise Cote

Holiday Brush Owl

Mass Audubon’s 2018 Holiday Gift Guide is Here

Have you heard? Now through Sunday, November 18, Mass Audubon members can save 20% on our fantastic selection of nature-themed gifts, toys, books, and more in the Mass Audubon Shop.* Visit us in person at the Mass Audubon Shop at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln or check out a selection of offerings in our online store.

If you need some inspiration, find the perfect gift for everyone on your list in the 2018 Holiday Gift Guide, from birders to bee-lovers and from go-out-for-adventurers to stay-in-and-entertainers.

And remember, every purchase from the Mass Audubon Shop goes directly to support our mission of protecting the nature and wildlife of Massachusetts.

*Some exclusions apply. Valid in-store and online. Discount will be applied at checkout in the Mass Audubon Shop online store.


Audubon Bird ClockGifts for the Birder

Fill your home with the sights (and sounds) of the wonderful world of birds.

See all Gifts for the Birder >

 

 

Bee Kitchen TowelGifts for the Bee-Lover

Bee devotees will love our selection of pollinator-themed home decor, apparel, and toiletries.

See all Gifts for the Bee-Lover >

 

Stainless Steel Multi-toolGifts for the Adventurer

Check out these nifty gadgets and outdoor gear for your next adventure.

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Kids Fisherman VestGifts for the Young Explorer

Find great games, toys, puzzles, and apparel for the youngest Nature Heroes on your list.

See all Gifts for the Young Explorer >

 

Bird Corkscrew/Wine OpenerGifts for the Entertainer

Liven up the party with drinkware, home decor, recipes for “wildcrafted” cocktails, and so much more.

See all Gifts for the Entertainer >

Mass Audubon 32-oz Frog NalgeneGifts for the Mass Audubon Enthusiast

Show off your Nature Hero pride with hats, t-shirts, drinkware, and more.

See all gifts for the Mass Audubon Enthusiast