Monday, March 30, 2009

V.P. Activity

Last night it was raining barely hovering around 40 degrees. I had thoughts of heading out to the one vernal pool I monitor and decided I'd rather hit my cozy bed...which I did and ended up watching the movie White Fang. It was one of my favorite books as a kid, and it was one of the reason behind me getting my wolfdog Khan while I was in college. I think I made the right choice last night as this morning I headed out to the Co. Park, very early to see if I had missed the "Big Night" and I'm happy to report, I did not. There has definitely been some evidence of Spotted Salamander activity. Some males must have been congressing, because there were some spermatophores, and a couple of very small egg masses. I was surprised to see that some of the males had been in the puddles surrounding the Vernal Pool, they dry up pretty quickly. If females actually come and take the spermatophores,and lay eggs, I'm going to move the eggs to the vernal pool. They won't survive in the puddles unless we get a lot of rain for the next three months. No Wood Frogs have laid eggs as of yet. A little late this year. The way the weather looks...I fully expect to have a big night towards the end of the week. I just ordered a new rain jacket...hope it comes in time!!

At home...Turkeys, Pine Siskins and lots of Black Birds continue. The Turkeys crack me up...there are four toms that spend all their time here trying to impress the ladies! What a treat to have them only feet from my kitchen window to entertain me every morning.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


After a silent Winter of hiking, the woods are coming alive with the sounds of Spring. Yesterday up in the County Park there were finally Wood Frogs in the Vernal Pool and Spring Peepers at the Pond. Tonight there were so many Spring Peepers at the pond that their songs were deafening. The temperature has been around 60 degrees and sunny. Gorgeous start to our Spring. We saw many deer today, Petey came right back to me, and stayed by my side to watch them run. I'm feeling so much better, with a little sunshine and warmth.

Again this year I am participating in Project Frog Watch. Each day I record the frogs I hear on a website to help with monitoring populations of frogs. Their numbers and species present in an area are a barometer as to how polluted an area is, our information helps scientist keep track of them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Snow Goose

Saw a snow goose down on Wisner Road while out doing errands, he was with a flock of Canada Geese, I went back out to snap the picture. There were also Wilsons Snipe in the stream across the road from the Snow Goose. One last look at the Snow Goose for Winter 2009.

Unseasonably cold out,in the 20s overnight. Still no sign of wood frogs up in the County Park this morning. The streams and ponds were covered with ice again. Not too much bird life out and about. Skunk Cabbage all in bloom, won't be long before the leaves are coming out. I'm looking forward to seeing my first snakes and turtles of the year.

At the home feeders, still over a hundred Pine Siskin, good size flocks of Gold Finch, Juncos and Red-Wing Black birds. A couple of Song Sparrows this AM singing their little hearts out along with the Carolina Wrens. I'm still going through so much bird seed. Might have to cut back the feeding soon, I met up with a man while hiking up at Cascade Lake Park yesterday, he said there is a bear already up and getting into garbage. The man also saw Red Fox and heard Coyotes, hiking with a dog does have some do miss out on lots of wildlife sightings. He's worth it though :D

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Spring!

I've missed the last couple of days of posting due to my 4th son turning 15, and having a large party! I welcomed in a gorgeous first day of Spring with a evening hike with my Petey and I've been out and about the entire weekend as usual, never wanting to miss even one moment of the unfolding of another delightful Spring. One of my favorite cheerful little birds is the Eastern Phoebe. Yesterday I saw my first one of the year up at Cascade Lake Park. It is always a welcome sight to see one bobbing his cute little tail. I also saw Bluebirds, several pairs back by the old beaver dam in CLP on the Jersey side. Robins, tons of Vultures flying all over the place the last several days. Lots of Redtails, and today on the pond in the town park there was a Great Blue Heron. The large flock of Pine Siskins continues, Juncos, W.T. Sparrows, and now Song Sparrows. So far there are no Wood Frogs at the vernal pool I monitor. It seems as though it is just too cold out in the middle of the woods. Today it was only about 45 when I ventured out, and a bit windy so it seemed colder.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring Peepers!

One of my all time favorite sounds on the song of a Spring Peeper, it brings with it's late Winter voice the promise of another beautiful Spring. Each Winter I look forward to the melt and the emergence of Reptiles and Amphibians from hibernation. Every year since I started keeping records, I can pretty much guess the day when I will hear or see certain species. I enjoy this time of year more then any other, watching the rebirth of the earth is so awe inspiring, that I never tire of the miracle.

Yesterday I spent a delightful day at the Bronx Zoo with my hubby and two of my sons. We had the place almost com;letey to ourselves as it was St. Patrick's Day. The weather was gorgeous and temperatures went up to around 50 degrees. We enjoyed watching all the wild animals and each others company. It was truly special to be in some the the buildings completely alone with only my family. I've been to the zoo at least twenty or more times, and this by far was the most deserted I've ever seen it. Terrific day had by all four of us.

On the way home I asked hubby to drive down the back road and stop the car where I first hear the Peepers each year, and yes they were singing! A wonderful day was just made even more special for me. As we drove on I asked hubby to pull over again(met by son number one wanted to get back up to college for the celebration) by a stream so I could look for a bird, and was there too! A Snipe. Now tonight I'm hoping to hear woodcock calling as I BBQ. Spring is officially here for me!!!!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Vernal Pool

I have a fascination with vernal pools. For the last decade I look forward to watching the miracle of life unfold in all the pools in the County Park that I frequent. A vernal pool is a temporary body of water that is usually devoid of fish. Amphibians congregate in them and lay their eggs. Every Spring any day from now until April the woods around the pools will be full of Wood frog and Spring Peeper song. The Wood frogs only need a couple of days with temperatures above 40 degrees, and a little rain to come out in force. Their bodies are able to freeze and not die. What I really look forward to is the emergence of Spotted Salamanders. They usually come out on a rainy night after several nights of 40 degree temperatures. The males congregate first in what is called a congress. They leave their spermotrophites for the females who follow soon after. This rare happening is what we vernal pool freaks call THE BIG NIGHT! We anxiously await the perfect storm, checking the weather channel, the barometer and the temperature, when it seems perfect, we head in to the dark rainy night armed with flashlights and hope to see hundreds of these eight inch giant salamanders. It is a phenomenon that everyone that loves amphibians should see at least once in their lifetime. Two years ago we hit the big night...Hubby and son number two came with me, and the next night my two youngest boys came with me. It was so much fun to finally see these mythical creatures. I was actually able to pick one up. I'm waiting checking the weather's like Christmas morning for me!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Give your dog a bone!

Petey and I are nearing a second anniversary on our Raw feeding journey. The day I picked my red boy up from the breeder, he had loose stool on the ride home, thankfully he alerted us so we could stop the car and take him out. The loose stool continued. During his first ten weeks with us, I tried several types of premium kibble, digestive aids, two trips to the vet for antibiotics, tons of boiled rice and meat meals, and even over the counter anti-diarrhea medications. He would have semi solid poops and then the first meal back on kibble the huge cow patties returned, lots of them everyday. I was told by my vet he couldn't help me, this must be a food issue, I was on my own. I was upset for the entire first two and a half months I owned him. It was so hard to enjoy his puppy-hood while worrying every waking moment what was wrong with him. I started to study home cooked and raw. I had ventured in to a bit when Uno was diagnosed with Cancer. The day of the diagnosis I never fed him another bite of kibble, I found a cancer diet, and fed him Delicious meals with rice, meat and vegetables, he loved it and only missed one day of eating, despite being so sick. When Petey was around 4 months old, I joined a forum, and there was a Raw-feeding fact section written by a veterinarian. I read every page of it, I joined a couple of internet groups, and decided to just do it. Petey was 20 weeks old when we made the switch cold turkey. Overnight...his poop was solid and he only went once a day. His coat transformed from dull to glossy and he gained 16 pounds in a month. We had some ups and downs in the early days, fussy eating, throwing up bones, lots of wasted food. In the first few weeks I tried to give him a little kibble on two occasions, thinking how easy it would be to just pour his food in the bowl, and both times he had explosive diarrhea. After the second time, the kibble actually made him feel sick all day.....I decided to never again feed him kibble. I think he has IBS issues, just like his mommy! We have never looked back. Raw is what Petey needs to be healthy and happy. I have continued to do my research, always willing to learn all I can about keeping my boy healthy. I've also helped many people start on their own raw journey with their dogs. I truly believe it to be the best I can do for my baby boy. I want to do everything in my power to keep him healthy for the long haul. So in celebration of Petey starting his 3rd year on Raw feeding.....give your dog a bone!!

On the nature front, starting to hear lots of bird song in the mornings. I continue to hope for a shot at that Green Siskin! I sit camera in hand every morning. I still have a flock of about 100 coming to the feeders at about 7:30am every day. I am really going to miss them. I make sure that I get outside and fill the feeders first thing so I can sit and have my coffee and watch them all feed, knowing that there is a good chance this will be the only time in my life that I ever have such a huge flock. I'm enjoying every last minute watching them. Larger flocks of Juncos now under the feeders, eating corn and millet. Lots of Redwing Blackbirds, Brown Headed Cowbirds and Grackles continue to wipe out the corn everyday.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Green Morph Pine Siskin!

My flock of Pine Siskins are eating me out of thistle seed at an alarming rate. This is the first Winter I have ever finished a bag. I think it has been well worth the expense, to have these delightful birds all day long cheerfully hanging around the house. This could be the only time for the rest of my life that I have them as common feeder birds. They have little fear of humans and I expect would hand feed if given half a chance. Today I was lucky to have a Gorgeous Green Morph visiting right at the window feeder! What a stunning guy he is! I had heard that they exist and had never seen as many Siskins as this year, so that certainly increased my odds of seeing such a rare variation. Now if only I could get a picture of him, he was all of twelve inches from my camera....and I still couldn't snap it in time!

Chipmunks are all out of their semi-hibernation. They are all busy feeding like crazy, getting ready for the babies who will be coming in a few weeks time. Yesterday it was so warm and beautiful out, I was able to clean out the pond and fill it with water for over an hour. The pump is defrosted and up and running. I lost 3 of my old goldfish, only 1 remains of the orginals. Looks like all their offspring are still with us. The cycle of life will continue with them.

Today it is rainy out and in the 40s. Petey has some sores on three of his feet and our veterinarian said he is not allowed to go for a run until Friday, so we will be house bound until then. Not a bad place to be if you are sitting at my kitchen table! I think Petey will disagree....he loves his runs!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Common Redpoll

If you spend enough time looking out your windows every so often you get rewarded with a rare bird. Today was my turn...beautiful Male Common Redpoll. The last one I can remember having at a feeder was back in 1986, at our house on the Ramapo River in Tuxedo. Nice surprise having a visitor who resides far North of us. Spring is in the air for those of us who bird!

The weather is very warm for the last couple of days. We were in Vermont at Stratton Mountain for the end of this past week. Hubby and I got out for a fun snowshoe on Friday. Beautiful woods full of birch trees, and about a foot and a half of snow on the ground. During our outing we made a wrong turn on a trail and ended up at the bottom of the mountain and had to climb back up not once but TWICE! We should have thought twice about heading down that trail when we arrived at it, as a thin, in good shape young women had just come up it on Cross-Country Skis....she was NOT happy and told us so! We chuckled and I said to hubby as we snow-shoed away from her, if she hates her form of exercise...why does she do it? hour later, I certainly could relate to her level of frustration! I was able to take Petey for a nice hike yesterday, he was so happy we were home, he slept like a baby last night.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Today would have been my Dads 75th Birthday. I miss him more as each year passes. He is the reason I love being out in nature so much. It is a passion he passed down to me that has lasted my entire life. My fondest memories of my dad involved being out on his beloved salt water, on a boat. We spent our childhood out on Great South Bay and many vacations at Mr. Whites Cottages on Peconic Bay. Dad was happiest while boating, I can still see his tanned face and his beaming smile as he piloted his Cobia. I am so thankful that he followed his heart, and spent so much of his free time with us boating. Growing up at the beach made for lots of happy childhood memories. Today I choose to celebrate his life. We are off to Vermont for the next couple of days, I hope to see an Eagle and find a restaurant that serves oyster, scallops and key lime pie.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Five Toms.....

Five Tom Turkeys came in for a little lunch at 12pm. They already have their beautiful red faces and have started to do some strutting, getting ready for the ladies. They dug up all the food under the feeders so the black birds can now get at it. How incredibly awesome to have so much nature to see right outside my kitchen window. I feel like the luckiest person in the world today. Thanks to my dad for gifting me with this life long love of nature....I will never feel like I am missing anything in this life and it is free for the taking!

Struggle of Life...

Today we are getting a accumulation of snow. It is beautiful out. There are literally 300-400 birds in the yard right now, feeding. The migration has started and migratory birds are coming and going to the locations that they will soon embark on their parenting journey once again. The Pine Siskin flock is well over one hundred birds now, and have been joined by Red Wing Black Birds and Grackles. Their lives are a constant struggle, not a day goes by that they don't fight to stay alive. As I sit here drinking my morning coffee their drama of life unfolds before my eyes as I watch a Coopers Hawk come in and try for a meal. She will continue to hang around the yard until she is successful with her hunt. She must eat to survive. Putting food out for the perching birds also feeds her. It isn't a pretty picture, but it is the reality of nature. Sadly I begin think back to the crow that hung around here for most of this Winter. He showed up alone, and started spending all day and night in our yard. Upon closer inspection with a pair of Binoculars, I could see he had growths all over his body. They were on his feet and face. He looked so worn out and tired. He had been ostracized from his mob, he was the weakest link, a liability to the other crows. Occasionally I would see several other crows picking on him. If I went outside, they flew away, he did not, he sort protection from us. He took refuge on our little acre, he became less afraid of us so he could survive a little longer. Reality is, in nature only the strongest healthiest survive, there is always another creature waiting to take advantage of any weakness, it is how they will survive another day. Most days he could be seen in our yard at any given time of day, he was eating the cracked corn that I spread out for the ground birds each day. Feeling badly for him, I began to put out more substantial food, left over meat. About two weeks ago he was moving around very slowly and I thought to myself he wasn't long for this world, and the next morning I found him on the ground dead. His struggle was over. I hope he had found a little relief due to my feedings but now looking back, maybe I helped him to suffer longer then he needed to. Nature doesn't tolerate weakness of any kind, and because of that, there are no lingering illnesses for wild animals, they pass quickly and naturally. Being human, I am drawn to help those in need. I don't want to see any creature suffer, maybe it is wrong for me to interfere. Another life lesson learned, but not necessarily taken, as my struggle to understand the universe continues, mother nature, as always is the best teacher for me.

Petey and I got out and hiked 2 hours Friday,2 hours Saturday and 1 hour on Sunday! Today we hope to get out in the snow later on when the roads get plowed well enough to get to the Co. Park....I am looking forward to seeing Petey enjoy the snow and using my snowshoes one more time!

Notable birds this weekend out in Pine Island, 2 Long Ear owls, as well has Harriers, Rough Legged Hawks(several stunning Dark Phase), Horned Lark and Snow Geese.