I’m not sure whether I believe in magic, but I believe in magical moments. For me they are those moments on the trail where everything is good and seems as it should be and all is right with the world. It’s why I go back over and over, and have made a 20-year career out [...]
Nature Observation And Study
Observations, studies and ideas on the natural world.
I get great, deep sleeps at the field school. It’s one of the things that I love about life here. Last night, though, I popped awake at about 3:40. I felt wide awake and decided to walk outside and into the field. As I stood there, I heard the distant mating call of a female [...]
Late summer of 2017 has been marked by extremely dry weather and low water in the Aroostook river. We have a USGS monitor station here in Masardis just upriver from the field school, and today (September 3rd, 2017) it showed the river flowing at 74 cubic feet per second. That’s the lowest I’ve seen it [...]
At dusk tonight I stood for half an hour watching and listening to four ruffed grouse feeding, talking and jumping around at the top of an aspen tree. Being silent and observing not only aids my knowledge and understanding of the natural world, but also my enjoyment of it. Empathy. Kinship. Belong to it.
Lucky Dog and I had a great afternoon in the woods tracking yesterday. I shot a bunch of pictures, but only a few turned out well. We found tracks of deer, turkey (foot and wing), grey squirrel, snowshoe hare and fisher. The snow conditions were perfect for tracking; a layer of crusty snow covered with [...]
My friend Dick butchered a road kill moose, saving the good meat and giving it to the person who totalled their car as a result of the impact. I took a chunk of the “spoiled” meat. I had been seeing this weasel around for a few days and I wanted to see him up close. [...]
My son and I set aside time every week to get outside and explore the natural world. We’ve been looking at plants, tracks, rocks, and other things that he can see, smell and touch. Then we go to the Austin Science And Nature Center, where he can get points for the things he discovers. The [...]
This morning after dropping my son off at preschool I was walking down the stairs to the house and I heard a bunch of crows making a ruckus. After looking towards the lake for a few moments, I spotted a shape in one of the white pines, about 20 feet from our deck. It was [...]
This morning I saw five bald eagles over Rust Pond. They come through each year as the ice starts to go out. It’s a big deal because for the rest of the year I never see them around here. I think they move further north. There is a certain way they fly that is unique, [...]
Building on the nature study post from yesterday, I wanted to add one of my favorite links; Observations Of A Naturalist by Boyd Shaffer. It features illustrated articles (illustrated by Boyd) about nature by a man who knows it well. I studied the field botany of southcentral Alaska in Boyd’s class at Kenai Peninsula College [...]
A friend emailed me about Naturalist Jim Conrad’s site Backyard Nature, part of his push to improve environmental education by offering free nature study courses online. There’s also a public phenology database where you can record nature information you observe. It’s a great resource for learning about the world around you, as well as sharing [...]
I recently typed-up an old handout about the 27 laws of ecology (collated by Pierre Dansereau) and posted it on the web. It’s a .pdf file located here, and is also linked through our Online Articles page under the Recommended Resources heading. Below is a list of the laws. For their definitions and explanations, read [...]
Knowledge of identification, harvesting, processing and use of edible, medicinal and otherwise useful plants makes up a vast amount of practical and intellectual knowledge that was highly valued by cultures living off the bounty of the land. In our modern culture, where many people can’t identify the trees in their yard or the ones they [...]