Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Three Months at the Beaver Pond

The beaver pond is over the ridge behind the house and over another ridge behind that. It sits in a wide valley, a valley with farmland and woodland, and is fed by a small stream that flows through a larger pond that also is the home to a colony of beavers.

One of my camera traps has been at the beaver pond for several years, furnishing photographs and videos for a number of posts on In Forest and Field. Only once this year, in mid-April, have I seen a beaver at the pond and their lodge is deteriorating from a lack of maintenance.

Every once in a while it seems as if all the possibilities from a camera trap location have been exhausted – and then …

Although it seems that the beavers have now deserted this pond I’m leaving the camera trap there throughout the summer – we'll see what turns up.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

National Moth Week - 2021

This week (July 17-25) is National Moth Week, a celebration of those fascinating and often colorful insects that are primarily nocturnal. Moths and their larvae are an important component of forest and field ecosystems, they’re a major – often the primary – food source for songbird nestlings and adults. Some moths are important pollinators; others, especially the litter moths, recycle fallen leaves while still others can have major impacts on tree survival and growth.

A sampling of the moths to be found in northcentral Pennsylvania –

Speaking of moths, t
he Entomological Society of America just announced that it was dropping/changing the name "Gypsy Moth" because it was perceived as inappropriate and offensive to the Roma people. Will it also change the names of any moths that might be perceived as offensive including: "The Hebrew",  "Finnish Dart", "Spanish Moth", "Setaceous Hebrew Character", "The German Cousin", "The Old Maid", "The Slowpoke", "Old Man Dart" and the entire group called "Quakers"?  Just asking!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A Great Commotion

Early summer, the forecast was for temperatures in the low 90°s, not my kind of weather. But at dawn it was in the 60°s, rising to just over 70° by the time we’d finished breakfast. So H drove me to the top of the ridge where I could walk an old, old road down into the Big Woods – downhill all the way to where we’d left my car.

The ridgetop is occupied by an oak forest, perfect food for caterpillars of the accidentally introduced gypsy moth. Pieces of oak leaves were scattered on the ground; gypsy moth caterpillars are sloppy eaters –

A short way further down the old road several rattlesnake-weed plants were in bloom –

On down the hill I went until suddenly a great commotion arose from the bracken fern and black huckleberry growing alongside the old road. The loud sound and thrashing set me back for a moment until I realized that it was a female wild turkey protecting her young. She burst from the plants sounding her alarm call loudly, spreading her wings and running across the grassy road as her poults scattered and hid. 

She continued to run around me in ever-widening circles, calling loudly all the time. I missed getting the beginning of her display, but here’s a bit of the performance she put on –

When she first exploded from the vegetation I saw several of the poults, one poult ran to a large fallen branch a side of which was off the ground. As the hen got further away I decided to look for the poult beneath the branch. It took a while, but there it was –








Turkey poults often hide beneath fallen leaves and there’s always the danger of stepping on a hidden poult. Poults that survive their first two weeks of life can fly short distances, greatly increasing their odds of survival.

With that it was time to move on and allow the turkeys to reunite. Although later there were photos of flowers and a stream, the turkeys were the highlight of the morning. The rest of my walk through the Big Woods was uneventful, and then it was time to head home and stay cool.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The End

It’s not the end of In Forest and Field. Instead it’s the end of keeping a camera trap where it had been for five months because the reason to have one there is now gone. Except for some hair, all the remains of the dead white-tail doe have now been eaten or disbursed into the forest ecosystem in which she spent her life.

After the doe’s death she fed a myriad of creatures – eastern coyotes being the largest, the smallest being microscopic life forms, some of which are probably still unknown to science.

Three other posts on this blog highlighted the mammals and birds that gained sustenance from the doe’s body. First came One Dead Deer – Many Diners followed by The Deer Dinner Continues  and then Slim Pickings.

The last videos from the dead deer are here –


Some of the songbirds came to gather hair for their nests, some came, no doubt, to feast on the insects that had fed on the doe’s remains. Most of those insects would have been flies and beetles, but there may have been others.

On this video is the only camera trap image I’ve ever captured of a woodland jumping mouse, a rodent that few have ever seen and that spends much of the year hibernating underground. Years ago I was fortunate to be able to photograph a woodland jumping mouse –

You can never tell what may show up on a camera trap.