Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Shinleaf and Spotted Wintergreen in flower

The low growing white flowered ericads Pyrola elliptica and Chimaphila maculate are in full flower here at AF.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shadbush Season: four species of Amelanchier in flower, April 21st

Four species of Amelanchier occur naturally at AF:

(in order of first flowers, from April 9 - 21)

A. arborea

A. canadensis

A. laevis

A. nantucketensis

These species can be easily confused and hybrids are known to occur as well. The Nantucket Shadbush is newly identified at AF and is an interesting plant in that its petals produce pollen. A. arborea and A. canadensis look similar, the former tends to have a single trunk (tree-like), the latter many stems (shrub-like). Sepal characters also distinguish these two. A. laevis has glabrous (hairless) leaves that appear reddish when in flower, while the two previous species have hairy or pubescent leaves that appear whitish when in flower. Shadbush will continue to flower for another couple weeks.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

First Wood Frog Chorus heard, March 24th

The first chorus of wood frogs was heard at Aton Forest, Norfolk, CT, today (3/24) around 3:30 pm. Also, one peeper was heard at a beaver pond today. In past years the first wood frog calls were heard on 3/31/2009, 4/9/2008, and 4/18/2007. Yellow-spotted salamanders began moving during the rains Monday night (3/22). I counted 11 (and 1 dead peeper) along a 2-mile stretch of road through AF during a half-hour period. No other salamanders or frogs were seen. Norfolk, CT is the coldest place in CT and usually the last to hear wood frogs. We still have ice on some ponds and vernal pools and patches of snow in shady spots.

Monday, March 22, 2010

First of the year Phoebe, March 19th

AF President Mike Aurelia spied the first Phoebe for 2010 at AF Hq on Friday, March 19th. Also this past Saturday, March 20, my grandson Ryan and I watched and listened to four male Woodcocks, all displaying within a 100-yard radius in my backyard at AF. A few times one would chase competitor away from his claimed territory, once a pair zipped past us within a few feet of our heads. John Anderson, Executive Director

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First of the year Red-winged Blackbirds, March 8th

On Monday morning Red-winged Blackbirds seen at a feeder at Aton Forest in Norfolk: a small flock of thirteen.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Snow-fleas observed - A sign that Spring is coming soon!

Snow-fleas (Hypogastrura  nivicola, Order Collembola, Class Insecta) were first seen on Monday, March 1st and have been common on snow and in puddles during the week. These animals are not true fleas, but are harmless springtails and can propel themselves by short flea-like jumps using their tail or furcula that is tucked under the body. In late winter these tiny dark grey-blue creatures (they are only 1-2 mm long) crawl about in masses on top of snow. They may be feeding, but the literature is uncertain on this matter.  Normally they live in the soil feeding on detritus, algae, bacteria, and fungus. In terms of soil animals, their populations form some of the largest sources of biomass .