Friday, April 30, 2010

Turtle Time in the Sun

I love turtles and at this time of year they are easy to find, especially if you are near a pond on a sunny day. It is hard to tell from this picture but this is a very small, about 2" big, painted turtle sitting on a clump of mud in a shallow pond.These painted turtles were all lined up at the edge of another pond....
And this one is poised to dive in if I make a step closer (which I didn't)
And this turtle has a new friend....

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Can you name these buds?

The person who gives the most correct answers will win a small special surprise. You don't have to be too specific, type of tree or shrub will be enough. You may answer here or on Facebook where the post will be posted also.

Good luck! I will post the answers on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Herring are Running

At this time every year an amazing phenomenon takes place. Herring, alewives and shad (all the same kind of fish) return from the sea to fresh water to spawn. They come by the thousands and much of their journey is uphill.They swim through the creeks and rivers and up the waterfalls....
They hope to get by the gulls and herons that come to feed....
They hope to reach this place or places like it.
Herring are anadromous, meaning they live in salt water as adults but spawn and are born in fresh water. Late in the summer and in early fall the young herring, known as fingerlings, will return to the sea.
These pictures are a bit murky but give you an idea of the numbers of fish passing by and the 'run' has only just begun.
There is a moratorium on taking herring from the runs where I live since the herring population, once robust and enormous, is now severely depleted, most likely due to large factory boats taking them by the millions....

This herring run is in Brewster.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When this bush blooms...

it means it is time for something wonderful to be going on....See the little white blossoms?
I'll give you a hint....
This is called shad bush....and I'll write more about what it signifies tomorrow.

This spring we have had such good weather that the shad bush was not the first blooming wild bush, which it often is. Most years it is the first sign of life along the ponds and streams and in the yore of old it meant something very you know what it was and still is?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ospreys in the House

Look carefully at this picture. On the third chimney to the left is an osprey nest! This large home is on the Centerville River in Osterville and I'm not even sure anyone is there other than the pair of ospreys busily building their nest.One stayed on the nest while the other gathered and delivered nesting materials.

This nest is also on the Centerville River, in Centerville this time and this is the second year the ospreys have nested here. You can see there is a lot of guano on the roof but the homeowners are pretty excited to have an osprey nest on their house.
If you enlarge this shot you can easily see the two birds on this nest.
I guess ospreys are nesting on chimneys more and more often but this was the first time I had seen them and I have to say I thought it was pretty cool...

Speaking of birds of prey....did you see the picture of the bald eagle seen in Hyannis that was on the front page of the Cape Cod Times yesterday? Just down the street from Main St.!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fiddle Dee and Fiddle Dum

getting ready to make hundreds more of them!The little fiddler crab in my hands is still a little cold stunned early in the morning. He was pretty sluggish but it didn't take long for him to get warmed up....
and get a little feisty, too! Only the male fiddler crabs have the trademark fiddle claw and it is used more for flirting than hurting. It is not unusual to come across a colony of burrows filled with anxious male crabs waving their claws in the air hoping to claim some attention....
Here you can see a female approaching the burrow of a waiting male. Although the males can be patient and entice a female to come into their burrow they can also be a bit....grabby....if you catch my drift.
Another male marching sideways across the sand....and then down below you'll see that they will sometimes get a bit argumentative as well. The outside male in this case marched right over to the burrow and grabbed the other crab's claw. The second crab withdrew quickly into its burrow.
Have you ever seen these little guys? They are all over the Cape. These were photographed in Centerville and in Wellfleet this past week. Where is your favorite spot to find them?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Frogs in the Bogs....

Two of these frogs are bullfrogs and one is a green frog. Can you tell the difference? Sometimes people think because one is bigger than the other that it must be the bullfrog but remember that bullfrogs start out small and green frogs can get pretty big.Often their markings are very similar. Some are dark, some are brighter green, some have blotches and spots or look both species. Frogs tend to be darker in the spring which helps them camouflage themselves in the darker water. As the greenery grows and the overall environment seems lighter the color of the frogs will also lighten up a bit.
Check out the ridge or line on these frogs. On one frog that lateral ridge goes down the two sides of the back. On the other two it just curls around the tympanum (big ear drum).
The top and bottom frogs are bullfrogs and the one in the center is a green frog. Bullfrogs have the ridge circling the tympanum and green frogs have the two ridges down their backs so no matter how big or small or how spotty or green they are, that is how to tell them apart. Special thanks to Mary Alexander for the use of her green frog photo. All the frogs I photographed the other day were bullfrogs.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Can you see it?

There's someone hiding in these you see it?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Which frog is this?

Is this a green frog or a bullfrog?
Check in tomorrow and we'll talk about how to tell the difference....

Monday, April 19, 2010

Painted Turtles

Painted turtles are probably our most common turtle on Cape Cod. They certainly are the easiest to find and see. On warm afternoons some areas have spots where over a hundred turtles may be seen basking in the sun together.Have you seen a turtle yet this spring on the Cape? Watch for them in fresh water ponds or lakes along the shore. They love to rest on small tussocks of dirt and vegetation such as this or on half submerged logs where they can easily slip into the water if danger approaches. Soon you will see turtles of all kinds traveling about looking for mates so keep your eyes open!

We have several other fresh water turtles that live on the Cape. Can you name them all?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring Azures

One of my favorite signs of spring is seeing my very first spring azure butterfly. There is a whole family of small blue butterflies--they are about the size of a dime--but the earliest ones we see here on the Cape are simply called spring azures by most people. I think that technically they are eastern spring azures. Usually they land and keep their wings closed so I was lucky to catch this one with open wings.The bottom picture shows the azure with its wings closed and you can see how well camouflaged it is like this.
I often see the azures when I find mayflowers but I am not sure if they nectar on these sweet flowers. You may also see them around blooming crow berry and other blossoms close to the ground at this time.

Watch for these tiny but lovely butterflies along sunny paths at the edge of woodlands or even inside the woodlands before the leaves come out. You may often see several "dancing" through the sunlight, a happy sight for winter tired eyes.

Friday, April 16, 2010

More Mayflowers

Mayflowers, also called trailing arbutus are so close to the ground and so early in the spring that many people never see or notice them. They can often be found along wooded paths where the leaves haven't come out on the trees yet and where the ground is sort of hilly, dry and maybe even a bit poor or rough. Here you can see a little patch of them along a path. If you weren't looking for them you might not see them.Here's a close up view. You can see they barely peek out of the leaves on the forest floor.
These blossoms had a nice pink color. They can range in color from pure white to pinkish to these almost pink flowers.
Mayflowers are in bloom all over Cape Cod right now so if you're out and around, go see if you can find some. The top two photos were from the Hathaway's Pond trails in Hyannis the bottom was from the Skunknett Audubon Sanctuary in Osterville.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Go See the Whales....


The right whales are feeding in Cape Cod Bay and so are the returning humpback whales, pilot whales and dolphins. You can see them from the Provincetown beaches with both binoculars and your bare eyes. Having said that, young children may have difficulty because the sightings are quick and far away....

But if you can, skip work, skip school, skip your appointments and run, don't walk, to Provincetown and go see the whales! is a most amazing show!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Rare Sighting....

Something very rare is happening on Cape Cod right now....

Spring! I hope you can get outside and enjoy it!