Weather at Bedford, Hanscom Field, MA - via NOAA's National Weather Service

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Evening light

12/12/11, 4pm est

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Frosty morning

12/4/11. 8:00am est
sent from my mobile phone

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Power line clearing

4pm est 11/29/11
sent from my mobile phone

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Power line clearing

11/20/11, 7:30am EST
sent from my mobile phone

Friday, October 7, 2011

First frost

sent from my mobile phone

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

short-winged blister beetles

I had two of these cool-looking critters on one of my jack-in-the-pulpit plants. Good thing I didn't try to touch them - they can exude a fluid that causes blisters. But I didn't know that then - I took photos so I could ID them. It took me a while since their wings are not at all obvious so I thought they didn't have wings - I wondered if they were the larvae of something. In the end, it was a "go through the insect guide page by page until you find a matching picture" process, but that did work and here are some pictures of Meloe angusticollis.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Potato bean


These pretty flowers belong to the groundnut - a common food source in colonial times, and probably in the early years of nationhood as well. Here is a bit of local information about them. They are a legume, but also have edible tubers - hence the name potato bean, which is the first name I learned for this plant. Other plants also go by the name groundnut, but this is the only one I know of in my region. I didn't find this info in any of the references I looked at, but the potato bean flower has a sweet, pleasant scent that is enhanced by the warm sun (as are most flower scents, I think). I wonder if these would grow in my yard? These are growing in some open land up the street from my house. Apparently they are pretty easy to transplant via the tubers, but I wonder if I have enough sun. Could be a good experiment...

Friday, August 5, 2011

High summer meadow

Goldenrod & Purple Loosestrife - hard to see the Joe-pye-weed

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lady Slipper

The first I've seen blooming this season.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Holly flowers

We all know the berries, but have you noticed these?
And you can see this spring's new leaf growth as well, and some "winter burn" or some such damage on a couple of the older leaves.
I'm not sure if this is Ilex aquifolium - English holly (I suspect it is), or Ilex opaca - American holly.  Either way, it is pretty.

Friday, May 13, 2011

kayak

Concord River
My husband and I got out for our first kayak of the season today.  It was a beautiful sunny day with just a light breeze and temps in the upper 60s.  We chose to head to a put-in not far from our house, since it was getting to be late morning by the time we got organized, but we decided to go downstream first, since we hardly ever do that and the wind was light.  As it turned out, the wind was with us as we paddled upstream on the way back and we didn't have to work too hard at all.  All in all, pretty much a perfect paddle.

We saw great blue herons, Canada geese, red-wing blackbirds, tree swallows, a red-tail hawk, a turkey vulture, several painted turtles and a snapping turtle.  We heard many, many birds without seeing them, and we saw a beaver lodge and lots of beaver chew, but no beavers.  We did, however, see several mysterious splashes.  As you can see in the photo, the leaves are not fully out yet, but they are coming - we are in full spring mode here in New England.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

flowers!

forget-me-not - so cheerful and unassuming, they come up in different spots different years

violets - always so sweet - these grow all around my house, including these on my front walkway

trillium - I transplanted this from my neighbor several years ago - it hasn't spread, but it comes back every year (this hasn't fully opened, but it looks pretty this way also)


Japanese andromeda - I just learned the name of this one today, even though it's been here for years - not native, but not invasive, and quite sweet smelling (a robin has built a nest in the bush near my back door)

bloodroot - so this flower has already dropped its petals, but it is a very cool plant that is spread when ants take the seeds back to their tunnels where they then grow
shadbush - this looks better in real life than in a photo, but once this blooms I know spring has arrived

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

beech leaves

The American Beech trees have finally lost last year's leaves.  That means that the new leaves are about ready to pop out.  And that means that spring is here.

Spicebush

One of the sweetest smelling early bloomers - even if it isn't showy.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

blooms

So spring is finally making a slow entrance here in New England.  Each day the views look a little greener, and today we hit temps above 70ยบF for the first time this year.  These pics are from a couple of days ago, and there are more out there now!
a cool fungus in my yard - no id yet

marsh marigolds

pulmonaria (lungwort)

skunk cabbage

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

frog

Just reporting the first frog sighting in my own little stream this spring.  I guess this warm rain finally tempted them out.
I'm glad it's warm enough for frogs again

Now if only that stubborn pile of snow outside my back door would melt...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

a better pic

The owl moved, in the same tree, and I was able to get a better picture.  She (just a random guess) clearly noticed my every move when I was in her field of vision.  So beautiful!
wonderful - Barred Owl

wow!

So my daughter and I are coming back from our daily afternoon walk with the dog and we see a big bird fly toward our house.  It's an owl, says my daughter.  I could tell it was a big one, but not which kind, until I got up close.  It turned out to be a Barred Owl!  Very cool - and it ended up landing in the big ol' pine in front of our house.  The songbirds in the yard are not happy!  The owl is still there, as I write this.  What a great place to live!
What a beauty!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

spring?

We've had a couple of warm days, but not too many yet.  Still below freezing pretty much every night.
BUT - I did hear wood frogs in a nearby wetland today, for the first time this spring.  No peepers yet.
And we still have a couple of piles of snow where there were huge piles before.
The birdfeeders are staying full longer, though, which is another sign of vernal change - the birds are finding other, more tempting, food, which is good.
And little green shoots are coming up in spots.
I'm sure it won't be long before leaves are popping out left and right!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

sights

I just got a new camera.  Here are some random pictures I've taken recently, learning how it works.  With the lens that it has on it now, it is better at macro and not as good at zoom as the camera I was using.  But I can changes lenses on this one, which will be a whole new experience for me.

Fryeburg, happy the snow is not so deep anymore

Beech leaves - they'll be on the ground soon

Ice in the stream - that has melted now, thankfully


Lichen and moss with quartz and oak leaves

Lichen on dead tree

Eaten acorn shells at the base of an oak tree

Spring is definitely coming - the skunk cabbage is up!

Friday, March 11, 2011

March rain

Rainy and foggy and beautiful.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

March thaw

Little by little, winter recedes.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

joy

I just heard red-winged blackbirds!  They are back from their winter migration and so now spring IS just around the corner.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

... came in like a lamb

Now it is March, so spring is officially only 3 weeks away.  Of course, this being New England, you never know...

Here are some pics of what can happen when you are a little critter and big hungry ones move faster than you can.

Here are some mouse tracks coming up from the base of a tree.  Often in winter, mice will tunnel under the snow for warmth and safety.  Safety is a big concern, as you will see.
Not too far from where those mouse tracks came from the tree, I found these marks in the snow.  Clearly, a swoop and grab by a fairly large raptor.  I took these pics around 8:30am after a one-inch snowfall - perfect for tracking.  Given the time of day and the fact that I was in the woods, I'm guessing the hunter was an owl getting its last snack before its daily rest.


Here's a closer image, and you can see no blood, so it was a clean catch.  How do I know the mouse didn't get away?  There are no more mouse tracks after the bird came down.
And here's a close-up of the very clear wing print.


I love the stories that sights such as these can tell, or at least hint at.  I saw a lot of great tracks that morning (it was this past Sunday), including a ton of fisher tracks.  Fishers are rather mysterious, keeping very much to themselves and having a fierce reputation.  They've moved back into this area relatively recently, as the hardwood forests have grown back over the last century.
Here's a nice set of fisher tracks.



And just for the record, since the snow was so perfect-for-tracking, I got pics of a typical rabbit track and a typical gray squirrel track.  They are very similar in size and shape, but in general (though not always), the rabbit fore-feet run back-to-front while the squirrel fore-feet run side-by-side.  The trick with these tracks is that when you look at them, the hind feet are in front of the front feet due to the scampering gait of the little mammals.
Typical gray squirrel tracks (ignore the little bird track below).  The animal is moving from left to right here, but the hind feet are in front of the fore-feet in the track.


Typical rabbit track (probably Eastern cottontail, though I keep hoping for a New England cottontail).  The animal is moving from right to left in this picture, but the larger tracks are the hind feet.

Also, I had a gift card for Borders book store, which has gone into Chapter 11.  The store near us is closing, so I needed to use up the card quickly.  I was thrilled to find a copy of Paul Rezendes' Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign.  Another book for my natural history collection!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

still winter, but...

Yes, it is still definitely winter here, though tonight's predicted precipitation should be rain.  There is still a good foot of snow on the ground, which is down from the three feet we had a few weeks ago, and the only bare ground around is where the snow has been cleared by shovel or plow.  I haven't even seen places where wild critter have cleared through - just a few squirrel tunnels.
 Here you can see the depth of the snow along a stream bank - we've still got some melting coming, and I'm sure we'll see plenty of rushing brooks come warm weather.

The oak leaves have mostly come down now, but beech leaves are still hanging on. 
 
Here are some oak leaves caught in the path after they blew down.

But spring is definitely on the way.  We've had some lovely days and the sunlight is stronger, and lasting longer, each day.  And here is the spring witch hazel (hamamelis vernalis) beginning to bloom.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cute

It's been a long, cold winter. These young deer hang around my mom's house in upstate New York. Given their size, I would think they would still be with their mother, but maybe something happened to her. They also seem small for this time of year, indicating that they were born late last season.  They look healthy - and they sure are cute.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lightning strike

Walking the dog this morning I came across a wide swath of bark chips scattered across the snow.  I could see no evidence of woodpecker work, but in looking up and around I noticed a long strip of bark missing from a nearby pine tree.  Last night we had a terrific thunderstorm with lots of lightning.  This tree must have been struck!  I've seen lightning-struck trees before, but rarely so soon after the fact.  And there was no evidence of burning at all, I suppose because of the rain, and the recent warm weather causing melting.  A very exciting February thaw.
These are phone pics, but will give some idea of the scene.