Category Archives: Take 5

Eastern Milk Snake (juvenile) © Ashley Gibbs

Take 5: Snake My Day

We’ve given snakes some love on this blog before, but they’re just so cool it seemed like time for a redux. This time of year, as young people everywhere are heading back to school or leaving home for college, the young of many species of snakes are also setting out on their own in the world.

Some species, like Ringneck, Milk, and Eastern Hognose snakes, lay eggs during the summer that hatch in August or September while others, such as Copperheads and Northern Red-bellied Snakes, give birth to live young anywhere from mid-July through September, even into October in the case of Eastern Garter Snakes and Northern Watersnakes.

Massachusetts’s 14 species of native snakes can be found everywhere from wetlands to woodlands, from rocky hillsides to stone walls, and from forests to fields. You might even find an Eastern Garter Snake or Eastern Milk Snake hanging out in your basement, generously helping to remedy any rodent problems you might be having!

Enjoy these five photos of native snakes, all submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Submit your own wildlife photography to this year’s contest and learn more about snakes on our website.

Eastern Ribbon Snake © Kathy Diamontopoulos
Eastern Ribbon Snake © Kathy Diamontopoulos
Northern Copperheads © Mark Lotterhand
Northern Copperheads © Mark Lotterhand
Eastern Hognose Snake © Patrick Randall
Eastern Hognose Snake © Patrick Randall
Eastern Milk Snake (juvenile) © Ashley Gibbs
Eastern Milk Snake (juvenile) © Ashley Gibbs
Northern Water Snake © Holland Hoagland
Northern Water Snake © Holland Hoagland
Channeled Whelk © Marian Stanton

Take 5: Seashells By the Seashore

The days are getting shorter, summer camps are wrapping up for the season, and some schools are already back in session. Summer may be winding down, but there’s still time for you to sneak away to the beach and enjoy the remaining sunny days and hot weather.

And even if you can’t get away to spend some time by the ocean (or if sand between your toes—and everywhere else—just isn’t your thing), you can still enjoy a little beach vacation right here. These five images of “seashells by the seashore,” all submitted in the past to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest, are just the ticket to remind you that summer is still hanging on. The 2019 photo contest is open for just one more month, so submit your nature photography today!

Mussel shell © Samantha Buckley
Mussel shell © Samantha Buckley
Channeled Whelk © Marian Stanton
Channeled Whelk © Marian Stanton
A mix of periwinkles, dog whelks, and winkles © David Perkins
A mix of periwinkles, dog whelks, and winkles © David Perkins
Juvenile surf clam; the hole is from a moon snail © Deborah Carr
Juvenile surf clam; the hole is from a moon snail © Deborah Carr
Bay Scallop © Emily Zollo
Bay Scallop © Emily Zollo
Landscape at Sunset - Lynda Appel

Take 5: July 2019 Facebook Favorites

Over the course of the 2019 Photo Contest, we will be highlighting 5 photos from the previous month’s entries on Facebook and asking fans to select their favorite. This is just a fun way of sharing some of the amazing entries and doesn’t have to do with the official judging process.

You can pick your favorite by “liking” it on Facebook. Not a Facebook user? Let us know your top pick in the comments. And, there’s still time to enter the contest—the deadline is September 30!

© Bonnie Tate
© Craig Clemow
© Tenzin Jampa
© Lynda Appel
© Michael Fager
Starry sky behind an illuminated lighthouse

Take 5: Seeing Stars

Summer is such a fantastic time of year for stargazing. True, you’ll have to stay up later for it to get dark, but at least you can comfortably enjoy the majesty of the night sky without a wool hat, gloves, heavy boots, parka, and half a dozen base layers.

Typically the most-viewed shower of the year, the Perseid meteor shower falls on August 13 (Tuesday). Although the Perseids can spit out 100 meteors per hour at their peak, the moon will be nearly full around the same time, so it may drown out many of the fainter meteors. Still, if the skies are clear tonight and tomorrow, you should be able to see a few “shooting stars”, especially after the moon sets in the early morning hours.

Enjoy these five great astronomy photos from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest, see if there’s an upcoming astronomy program near you, and submit your own amazing astrophotography to the 2019 photo contest!

Starry sky behind an illuminated lighthouse
Night sky and lighthouse © Jason Taylor
Night sky over a beach
Night sky © Bill La Pine
Starry sky over an old jetty on the beach
Night sky © Evan Guarino
A jeep parked on a dirt road by a meadow with a star-filled sky above
Night sky © Bob Levesque
Stars and moon over the beach
Night sky © Ralph Freidin
Hooded Mergansers (male) © Nathan Goshgarian

Take 5: Hooded Mergansers

Thinking about taking a radical step with your next hairstyle? You could take a cue from the Hooded Merganser, a common but striking duck with an over-the-top (pun intended), fan-shaped, collapsible crest atop their heads. Adult males have bold black-and-white crests while females sport a cinnamon-colored version of the ‘do. Either coloring would certainly set you apart in a crowd!

Awkward on land but graceful in the water, Hooded Mergansers are diving ducks, preferring small ponds, rivers, and wetlands where they can dive for fish, amphibians, mollusks, and crayfish. They use their eyesight to hunt below the water surface and even have an extra set of transparent eyelids that act as a natural pair of “swim goggles” to protect their eyes.

Here are five fantastic photos of Hooded Mergansers from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The entries for the 2019 photo contest are rolling in, so submit yours for consideration soon!

Hooded Mergansers (male) © Nathan Goshgarian
Hooded Mergansers (male) © Nathan Goshgarian
Hooded Merganser (male) © Rob Griffith
Hooded Merganser (male) © Rob Griffith
Hooded Merganser (female) © Michael Rossacci
Hooded Merganser (female) © Michael Rossacci
Hooded Merganser (male) © Sandy Murphy
Hooded Merganser (male) © Sandy Murphy
Hooded Merganser (male) © Kim Nagy
Hooded Merganser (male) © Kim Nagy
© Lucy Allen

Take 5: Simply Sunbeams

Incredible wildlife shots and curiously textured mushrooms certainly make for amazing images, but sometimes great nature photography is as simple as capturing an interesting bend of the light.

This week, we are featuring photographs from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest that highlight the beauty of “crepuscular rays”, commonly known as sunbeams. This optical phenomenon occurs when sunlight shines through openings in the clouds or forest canopy, creating columns of brightly lit air molecules or particulates. Interestingly, these rays are actually parallel to one another but can appear to radiate outward from the sun’s location in the sky because of linear perspective—the same visual illusion that makes railroad tracks appear to converge in the distance.

Enjoy these five beautiful images and be sure to submit your own gorgeous landscape photography to the photo contest!

© Robin Palazzolo
© Robin Palazzolo
© Lucy Allen
© Lucy Allen
© Kay Ficht
© Kay Ficht
© Chad Parmet
© Chad Parmet
© Rod Parker
© Rod Parker
Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth © Andrea White

Take 5: National Moth Week

Moths are one of the most diverse groups of organisms on the planet with scientists estimating there are at least 150,000 species worldwide, a testament to their adaptability, diversity, and success as a group. Their size, coloring, and shapes vary widely, from large, graceful Luna Moths to the sherbet-colored Rosy Maple Moths to the drab but perfectly camouflaged leaf-lookalike Walnut Sphinx Moth.

National Moth Week is celebrated the last full week of July and everyone is invited to observe, enjoy, and even document some of these amazing creatures. Most (but not all) moths are nocturnal, so attracting them can be as simple as leaving an outdoor light on and waiting for your winged guests to arrive.

Enjoy these five photos of moths in honor of National Moth Week and submit your own moth photos to the Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest!

Waved Sphinx Moth © Gary Wise
Waved Sphinx Moth © Gary Wise
Cecropia Moth © Suzette Johnson
Cecropia Moth © Suzette Johnson
Hummingbird Clearwing Moth © Susumu Kishihara
Hummingbird Clearwing Moth © Susumu Kishihara
Luna Moth © Jane Morrisson
Luna Moth © Jane Morrisson
Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth © Andrea White
Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth © Andrea White
© Richard Hilgendorff

Take 5: June 2019 Facebook Favorites

Over the course of the 2019 Photo Contest, we will be highlighting 5 photos from the previous month’s entries on Facebook and asking fans to select their favorite. This is just a fun way of sharing some of the amazing entries and doesn’t have to do with the official judging process.

You can pick your favorite by “liking” it on Facebook. Not a Facebook user? Let us know your top pick in the comments. And, there’s still time to enter the contest—the deadline is September 30!

Great Horned Owl © Deidre Gonsalves
Tufted Titmouse @ Greg Nadeau
© Nadia Haq
© Richard Hilgendorff
Humpback Whales © Terri Nickerson
Indigo Bunting © Amy Powers-Smith

Take 5: Indigo Buntings

Take a walk through a weedy meadow or shrub-filled forest edge and there’s a chance you might spot a flash of brilliant jewel blue singing boisterously from a treetop or telephone wire.

Not only are male Indigo Buntings gorgeous in their azure plumage, but they are also prolific singers and may whistle their high-pitched songs from dawn until dusk. Individual notes are often clustered in pairs and pairs often come in threes (“what what, where where, here here?“) but songs can vary widely from one individual to the next—young males learn their songs not from their fathers but from their nest neighbors, creating distinct “song neighborhoods”.

Fascinatingly, Indigo Bunting feathers contain no blue pigment. Like all blue birds, their coloring comes from the microscopic structure of the feathers that refracts and reflects blue light and absorbs other colors. Females are plain brown but may occasionally have a slight hint of blue on their wings, while immature and molting males have splotchy blue and brown patches.

Here are five photos of male Indigo Buntings from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2019 contest is open, so submit your nature photography today!

Indigo Bunting © Yunzhong He
Indigo Bunting © Yunzhong He
Indigo Bunting © Davey Walters
Indigo Bunting © Davey Walters
Indigo Bunting © Amy Powers-Smith
Indigo Bunting © Amy Powers-Smith
Indigo Bunting © Amy Severino
Indigo Bunting © Amy Severino
Indigo Bunting © Jaymie Reidy
Indigo Bunting © Jaymie Reidy
An osprey perched on a power line with an American flag flying in the background

Take 5: America the Beautiful

What is it that makes America so beautiful? Our breathtaking lands and wildlife, of course!

To celebrate our nation’s 243rd birthday this week, here are five photos from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest, each of which includes an appearance by the American flag as well as some wildlife and scenic habitats from the lands we hold so dear.

Learn more about our work to conserve our most precious land here in Massachusetts and submit your own photos to the photo contest today!

A wild turkey walks through a field of grass filled with small American flags
Wild Turkey © Marie Riva
The American flag flies in the foreground over a tidal flat with kayakers in the mid-ground and the ocean in the background.
© Greg Stokinger
A Red-tailed hawk perches on a rock in the garden of a home with an American flag in the foreground and patriotic bunting behind it.
Red-tailed Hawk © Gail Sartori
The American flag flies over a green tractor in a field of sunflowers
© Jen Shepherd
An osprey perched on a power line with an American flag flying in the background
Osprey © Steve DiGiandomenico