Friday, April 30, 2010

Going Batty

This little bat was found clinging to a window screen inside Eulett Center this morning. When we captured him and offered some water, he drank and drank. In return, he kindly held still so that Chris could snap a few photographs. He is likely a Northern Long-eared Bat, also known as the Northern Myotis, Myotis septentrionalis.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hope you are not missing it, Spring is here!

Yes Spring is here big time. Everyone thinks its starting early and it may be. We have all the expected plants blooming and a few we didn't expect. The Ladies slippers, Pink open, Yellow starting and White out of the ground. Just saw these yesterday, Indian Paintbrush on the right, Blue-eyed Grass center and Birdsfoot Violet on the left. Get out there and enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bog suckers and timber doodles

One bird that can’t be overlooked and is here now and just starting to display around the preserve is the American Woodcock. This “mysterious hermit of the alders”, ”timber doodle” or “bog sucker” winters in southern US and comes back early March to get to its breeding grounds here. It then begins one of the strangest breeding displays in the bird-world. Shortly after evening sets it stakes out a flat area of open ground marches around in circles with a pitifully small tail spread and long bill towards the ground resting on his chest calling “peent” “peent” “peent” over and over again almost all night. This march is only interrupted every now and then by a valiant flight circling around and around the parade grounds, circling higher and higher up into the air 200 to 300 feet high. While doing this the wind whistles through the specially modified outer three feathers of his wings and sounds as if he is twittering constantly. Then he begins to dive back down calling “chicharee, chicharee, chicaree” zig-zagging then finally to the ground right where he started or directly onto the back of a receptive female. Then back to “peent, peent, peent”. If you are careful you can run over to the place he takes off while he is flying and wait there without moving and many times he will land again, right at your feet.

The two photos of American Woodcocks are by Richard McCarty the one on the left is an adult on the nest and the one on the right is just a young one.

Friday, March 12, 2010

More Signs of Spring

Enjoy these photos, taken just this morning, of more signs of spring around the county. Wood frogs are singing, (along with spring peepers), spotted sallamanders are breeding, and spiders are weaving.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring is Sprung

Skunk Cabbage? Check
American Woodcock? Check
Red-winged Blackbird? Check
Grackles? Check
Eastern Phoebe? Check

Other signs of spring: Northern Mockingbirds are displaying for mates; Red-tailed Hawks have been observed carrying sticks for nests; Jefferson's salamanders have laid eggs in at least one vernal pool on the Preserve; Carolina Wrens are investigating nest boxes and advertising by singing; Oh, and the temperature today will be 60 degrees! Hooray!

Enjoy the sunshine, everyone.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Screech Owl

I turned the porch light on late last night and I saw this visitor guarding our front steps. I snapped a couple of pic's through the door window but he flew off as soon as I cracked open the front door. No wonder the cat doesn't sleep on the porch anymore.
This morning I saw a perplexed groundhog out and about in the neighbors yard. He probably never saw snow before.
Tom Cross

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mephitis mephitis

With the deep snow and chilly temperatures, wild animals are relying on shear tenacity to survive the final months of winter. Birds like Tufted Titmice, Chickadees, Blue Jays, Nuthatches, Juncos, and Goldfinches welcome the free seed put out on the office deck, as do the squirrels and mice. We received a little unexpected guest today in the form of a striped skunk. He waddled up to the building and has been digging through the snow below the bird feeders, trying to scrounge what little sustenance he can from the discarded seeds. Striped skunks were once thought to be members of the weasel family, however, a recent report in the Journal of Mammalogy by Dragoo and Honeycutt (1997) suggests placing striped skunks in their own family ("Systematics of Mustelid-like Carnivores". Journal of Mammalogy 78 (2): 426–443). They begin emerging from winter dens at this time of year to track down mates (you might notice an increase in skunk roadkill over the next few weeks). Skunk kits are born from mid-May to mid-June and stay with Mom for up to a year. Though it has a bad reputation for spraying would-be predators (or your family dog) with foul-smelling liquid, this is not the striped skunk's first choice of defense. When approached by an assailant, skunks will first try to run away. With such short, stubby legs, however, running is not likely to be effective. Turning towards the attacker with arched back and stomping feet is Plan B. Only if the intruder still does not take the hint will the skunk resort to spraying. This makes sense, considering it takes up to 10 days for the skunk to replenish its supply of stink.

Photos courtesy of Pete Whan, Mark Zloba, and Jessie Huxmann.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We have received a few beautiful visitors this winter. Here is a picture of one. All in all we have seen three indivduals. Richard says three, two adults and one juvenal. We are hopeful that they will stick around and build a nest on Ohio Brush Creek. We are worried that we haven't seen them since the creek started flooding. It was raising last week but stopped and then hit the dams and now it is backing up. I drove over the Brush Creek bridge this morning and the water was running upstream. We see this often in the spring but a little odd in the winter. So I slow down to watch the water running the wrong way just a few feet below the bridge, and a beautiful hooded merganser floats by. Never a dull day in Adams County!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Things are Gettin' Squirrely

Four Eastern Gray Squirrels, Sciurus carolinensis, are foraging for seeds below our bird feeder at Eulett Center today. Their presence confirms reports of a very healthy local squirrel population this year. The genus name "Sciurus" is derived from two Greek words, "skia", meaning shadow, and "oura", meaning tail. The name means "sitting in the shadow of his tail", in reference of a common squirrel pose. In our area, Eastern Gray Squirrels breed twice a year, from December to February and again from May to June. Gestation lasts 44 days. The first litter is born sometime around February or March; the second around June or July. There are normally two to six young in each litter, but this number can be as high as 8. The young are weaned at 7 weeks and leave the nest after 10 weeks. At about 6 months old, the squirrels are ready to reproduce. Gray squirrels have been known to live up to 20 years in captivity, but in the wild they usually only live about a year, though some live up to 12 years, if they can avoid predators, disease, acidents, and starvation. In addition to the Gray Squirrel, the fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) and southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) are other squirrels that live in Adams County. Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) and woodchucks (Marmota monax) are also members of the squirrel family which inhabit our area.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's Freezing Out There!

The Ohio River is mighty, and hasn't frozen since the Blizzard of 1977-78. With the below-zero temperatures throughout the past week, however, ice has indeed been forming along the banks. Huge flocks of Canada geese riding downstream on ice flows have been observed by locals along the river. With sunshine and 45° temperatures beginning Thursday, the ice will surely retreat again.