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.
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.
once in a while it seems as if all the possibilities from a camera
trap location have been exhausted – and then …
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.
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.
sampling of the moths to be found in northcentral Pennsylvania –
Speaking of moths, the 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!
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.
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 –
short way further down the old road several rattlesnake-weed plants
were in bloom –
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.
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 –
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 –
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
can never tell what may show up on a camera trap.