Notes from a Naturalist

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June 23, 2022

Beaver Behavior: Observing and Questioning

By Tommy McCarthy  - Environmental Educator

"Earlier this spring while spending the morning by a local pond, I saw the most beavers I’d ever seen out and about – they were swimming around, pushing piles of debris through the water, and two even sat on a little island to groom each other! This activity continued late into the morning, and watching them sparked all sorts of questions in my mind. For one, beavers are usually nocturnal. Why was there a group of them being active so late in the day? I also was curious about the fact that they did seem to be hanging out and working in a little group. I had not really considered before whether or not beavers were social creatures."

- Read the full article here

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May 18, 2022

A Bird's Eye View: Ultraviolet Vision

By Jennifer Meikle - Environmental Educator

"To us humans, male and female birds can look identical, like the Cedar Waxwings pictured above. But there is more going on than meets the eye – our eye, specifically. Eyes contain cone cells which are sensitive to color and light. We have three cone cells in our eyes that allow us to see light ranging from 400 to 700 nanometers, while many birds have an additional cone that allows them to see from 320 to 400 nanometers. Their cones also contain tiny oil droplets that help protect their eye from excess UV and ignore unnecessary wavelengths."

- Read the full article here

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April 25, 2022

Center Stage: The American Woodcock

By Jennifer Meikle - Environmental Educator

"Although Woodcock Nature Center is named after former Ridgefield First Selectman, J. Mortimer Woodcock, there also happens to be a strange little bird by the same name – J. Mortimer! Just kidding – wouldn’t that be funny though? It’s actually called the American Woodcock, one of the first ground nesting species to return to New England, appearing alongside the Eastern Bluebirds and American Robins at the first signs of spring."

- Read the full article here

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March 17, 2022

Wood Ducks: A Conservation Success Story

By Tommy McCarthy - Environmental Educator

"Wood Ducks are much more shy than the ubiquitous Mallards which are often seen swimming about in our local ponds, though during the breeding season they are present in similar numbers. If you have spent time exploring around the pond at Woodcock, you have likely heard Wood Ducks calling as they become alerted to your presence – but since it is a far cry from a quack, you may not have attributed it to a duck. Folks who see photos of this species for the first time often doubt if it is real, and it is easy to see why."

- Read the full article here

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February 10, 2022

Invertebrates in Winter 

By Jennifer Meikle - Environmental Educator

"Spotting an invertebrate in winter (that didn’t sneak into your house) can be a rare sight! An invertebrate is an organism without a backbone and can include (but aren’t limited to) insects, arachnids (like spiders), crustaceans (like crabs), mollusks (like snails), and worms. Like many people, you might think that the cold temperatures kill most of these tiny creatures. But year after year, their populations remain relatively stable, which means that somehow, they do find a way to make it through!"

- Read the full article here

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January 27, 2022

The Snow Bunting- A Winter Visitor 

By Tommy McCarthy - Environmental Educator

"When we think of migratory birds, we often think of the colorful songbirds that visit us in the spring, gracing us with their presence after having made long journeys from Central and South America. However, there are a number of migratory birds that visit us in winter as well, coming from the far north to escape extreme cold temperatures, heavy snowfall, and depleted food sources. While these birds may not be as colorful, they have their unique characteristics which make them special and interesting to learn about!"

- Read the full article here