Nature Detective

Many people think that they don’t see anything by going on a nature hike or walk. (It’s a hike if your pace is quick and a walk if you are slow!) That’s just not true. I’m always finding something when I’m out at the Hebron Nature Preserve…tracks, scat, hair, live animals and other animal signs.

When I was out clearing trails on March 15, I saw lots of scat and as I was painting one of the trail signs (note to self – yellow is mellow…must use black), a mink was lopping through the woods, came upon me and crossed the trail not more than 10 feet in front of me. At first when I heard the leaves, I was startled and even more so when I saw a tail. As it came into sight I froze admiring a beautiful large reddish brown mink. Oh my! Where was my camera? Down on the ground forgotten about. The creature ran off among the trees and I believe down a hole since I didn’t hear the crunching of leaves for long. When I was on the snowshoe hike in January, one of the hikers had found a mink skull. I ventured back to that area, just a bit from where I was painting and found the rest of the bones. I left them there but took a photo. A nest that was found on our snowshoe hike had since been picked apart and was now a bird’s nest (no eggs). I’ve posted before and after photos below. As I was clearing down the east side of the South Loop Trail, I noticed flooding in an area that was never there before. I believe that when hurricane Irene came through many old trees were toppled upsetting the natural springs water flow creating a new pond. I walked around this new area of water and found bones. They had been there awhile as they were green and had been chewed on. What do you think it could have been? What?…. another tree down. Busy little beaver or is it beavers? At least they hauled off their prize. I heard and saw Canada Geese on the creek. And I saw fungus, but you can see that on the fungus post.

When clearing trails on March 22, one of our tree benches had been pecked at by a woodpecker. Would you have noticed that animal sign? Back on the South Loop I found some old coyote scat. Old in meaning it had been there awhile and was dried up. Lots of bones, so I picked it apart just a little to see what bones were there and found a few claws, too. Hard to tell the size by the photo so I put my thumb by it for comparison. Maybe I should start a scat photo file! As I walked the trail, I saw deer hair up the hill off the path. Go ahead, check out the photo. Do you think you would have noticed it? A piece of skin was attached. What do you think happened? I think a deer was running scared and nicked itself on a branch pulling out a piece of hair with the skin attached. I found a few more hairs on a ridge as maybe it was lying there resting. I heard and saw a woodchuck. Big deal, right? It was for me. See my infamous photo. Lastly, another scat sign about the size of my thumb. Looks like bugs in it, so I’m not really sure. Any guess?


Fungus Fanatic

What…you ask? What is a fungus fanatic? Well, it started when I began working at the Pember Museum and had to run our summer nature camp. This was my first time to the Hebron Nature Preserve and I fell in love with fungus. Ok, I had a mild fascination with mushrooms as a kid. I would put painted “shroons” on my jeans, jacket and anything else I could paint with Tri-Chem fabric paint(remember that?) and not to mention draw or paint on paper. If you haven’t visited the Preserve, what are you waiting for? Right now you will find lots of shelf fungus on trees, but the real pretty ones come out in the summer. I know that they all have particular names, but I’ve been told that to identify..say a mushroom…you have to check the style, size, color under the cap, smell, etc. All these photos were taken at the Hebron Nature Preserve. If you happen to know the name(s) of the following, please leave a comment. Thanks! Now enjoy my fabulous fungus fotos

Beaver Lodge

One thing I love about taking photos is comparing them years down the road. That’s how we determine growth or lack there of. Right now, while the leaves are gone from the trees, you can see amazing things like the homes of animals. One animal’s home in particular is the Hebron Nature Preserve’s resident beaver. By the photo posted you can see the growth of his home in just two years. Not to mention the increase of water in the creek no doubt from his dam. How awesome!