Our Window on Nature

. . . exploring the world around us

A Tale of Dragons and Damsels

Filed under: Bugs — Lowell Christie -- June 25, 2016 @ 10:03 am

DragonflyThese dragons don’t chase damsels in distress. As a matter of fact, they don’t chase much of anything except small flying insects acceptable as food.  Oh yes, and other dragonflies.

At a length of two to five inches, dragonflies are the modern world’s largest insects, but they’re puny by ancient standards. A dragonfly imprint dated to the time of dinosaurs boasts a wing span of 30 inches. That’s appropriate when you consider the size of the dinosaurs that frequented the same rivers and ponds, but imagine one flying into your hair. (Read the rest …)

Leave It To Beavers

Filed under: Mammals — Lowell Christie -- May 28, 2016 @ 8:24 pm

BeaverNature lovers can’t easily watch beaver behavior, because the animals are, for the most part, creatures of the night. Yet we needn’t crouch on a stream bank swatting mosquitoes to know beavers are around. A dam reveals their presence.

No matter how large this dam might be, a typical beaver pond supports just one family grouping: the parents (monogamous while both parties live), one or two yearlings, and the current year’s offspring. In addition to this core family group, older siblings occasionally return to their natal surroundings if they are unable to secure, or are evicted from, a homesite. Apparently, the group identity persists even after a long absence, because there have been cases when a familiar individual is welcomed back after several years. (Read the rest …)

Watching Doodlebugs

Filed under: Bugs — Lowell Christie -- May 7, 2016 @ 8:16 pm

DoodlebugIt’s often much easier to find the tracks or marks a critter leaves than to discover the track maker. But sometimes you’re just not looking closely enough. Take the case of the doodlebug.

We had seen doodlebug holes and trails long before we knew who made them. They usually occur in sandy locations, and the holes are perfectly symmetrical cone-shaped depressions an inch or two deep. They look as though someone had poked a stick into the sand while strolling by. Often you will see multiple holes in an appropriate area. And hidden at the bottom of the hole is the doodlebug. (Read the rest …)

John Muir Was Here

Filed under: Others — Lowell Christie -- April 21, 2016 @ 3:55 pm

John MuirWriter and naturalist John Muir is one of our favorites. He’s been called a “Wilderness Prophet,” as well as “Father of our National Parks.” Although most closely associated with Yosemite National Park, we’ve found traces of his travels from Florida to Alaska. Here’s a Baker’s Dozen of his favorite locations as he described them in his many articles, letters, and books. (Read the rest …)

Avian Behavior

Filed under: Birds — Lowell Christie -- April 9, 2016 @ 6:33 pm

W-GrebesWhat is bird-watching? If we limit our definition to the identification of new birds in order to lengthen one’s “life list,” birders who cannot afford to travel ’round the world chasing different species would soon check themselves right out of the sport. After you reach the point where nothing but rarities interests you, what’s left?

Fortunately, only a few birders take that narrow an attitude; most of us find watching a bird’s behavior every bit as entertaining as identifying its family lineage. Waves of warblers and kettles of raptors appear only several times each year, but the patterns of courtship and territorial and feeding behaviors are constantly occurring around us. (Read the rest …)

 
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