Speaking of Nature
 This photo shows the sharp tip on the tongue of a
downy woodpecker.  Little chunks of peanut probably aren't soft
enough to be impaled, but beetle grubs can be harpooned and
retrieved with a weapon like this. For The Recorder/Bill Danielson

An unusual downy woodpecker

Sunday, November 29, 2015

During one of those long winter mornings that we all remember so fondly from just 10 months ago, I was sitting on “my” couch and reading an old book. My beautiful wife Susan has her own couch that is oriented perpendicular to mine and we both love to sit and soak up the morning sun by the big windows that … 0

The long-range traveler

Monday, November 23, 2015

Last week, while sitting around one of the faculty dining tables at lunch, the topic of Thanksgiving vacation inevitably came up. Each of the teachers took a turn describing his or her plans for the coming week and everyone nodded with approval as the details were laid out. About half the group was … 0

Kids & Critters: The red-breasted nuthatch

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I looked through my records and discovered that I’ve focused on plants for the past four months. Since the summer growing season is behind us now, which means most plants are starting to die back or go dormant, I thought it might be a good idea to try something a little different. The … 0

Speaking of Nature: an unexpected visitor

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Human beings in general, and scientists in particular, are very sensitive to patterns. This makes a lot of sense when one considers the nature of the planet that we live on. The planet spins at a constant rate, … 0

Speaking of Nature: oaks

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I was very fortunate to get a day off on Tuesday. The weather was so mild and the landscape so peaceful that I couldn’t resist going for a walk in my back woods. Many is the day that … 0

Kids & Critters: Want to know a secret?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My wife has recently been putting some extra effort into learning the names of the birds that come to our feeders. Summer birds can be difficult to learn because there are so many of them and they can … 0

Speaking of Nature: A nuthatch saves the day

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sunday was an unexpectedly gloomy day. Saturday had been so warm and lovely in comparison that the annual chore of moving firewood seemed like an unacceptable use of time. So, rather than don the heavy clothes required for … 0

Speaking of Nature: fall migration

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I’m teaching a new course at school and it’s absorbing so much of my time that I haven’t had a chance to go out with my camera in far too long. This past weekend was another that had … 0

Kids and Critters: mushrooms

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The beginning of autumn marks that time of year when the green leaves of summer finally “fall” off the trees. This a particularly beautiful time of year here in New England, but what you might not know is … 0

Speaking of Nature: Pied-billed grebes do exits!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One of the great joys of my life has been the ever-growing relationship that I have with the birds of the world. As time passes, I find that I learn more and more about our avian neighbors and … 0

Speaking of Nature: There’s a new vulture in town

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Back in the fall of 1986, I entered the wildlife biology program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst with so much to learn. My head contained a smattering of information about the birds, mammals, reptiles, insects and fish that … 0

Speaking of Nature: The cricket moon

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The last glorious days of summer are upon us. September is here and the world has taken on a definite and delightful quality that is distinct and easy to hear. Many of our birds are preparing to leave … 0

Kids & Critters: Ambush bugs

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Now that school is in back in session, we can all start our new classes and meet our new teachers. I always enjoyed learning new things in English, math and history, but when I was a boy, I … 0

Speaking of Nature: West Basin birds

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I had been so mesmerized by the loon that I completely forgot about my camera bag. It was only when I turned back to look for it that I realized how far I had walked. The bag was … 0

Speaking of Nature: Breakfast with a loon

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My eyes just sort of opened. No alarm had rung, nor had there been any unfamiliar creaking in the rented house, I simply woke up. I fumbled for my watch and noted (with great satisfaction) that it was … 0