Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 11, 2009 - Southern Half of Willow Brook Farm Preserve, Pembroke, Massachusetts

Well, I found them again. I found four more deer. I was just about to leave the Willow Brook property when I caught one out of the corner of my eye, fifteen feet away, through the bushes. They stared. I slowly moved for my camera. One lifted its front left leg and then placed it back down again slowly. I snapped a picture, a close-up portrait. Then, they snapped. They bolted away into the woods. I'm getting to the point where I'm starting to wonder if I should be tallying deer sightings at the bottom of this blog along with stranger greetings.

Nah, that would be obsessive.

It was a wet morning, completely clouded over, with steel gray skies. That usually throws the crepuscular species off a bit, as the sun doesn't truly rise as dramatically as it would on a dry day. They seem to linger, thinking the nighttime is doing the same.

Most of the songbirds, though, know the difference between night and day, or so it seems. On one muddy trail as I spun past a moss-covered stonewall - and everything here is covered in moss, making one feel like they're on the coast of Maine - a white-breasted nuthatch sang from atop an oak tree. When I stopped momentarily, I heard a second one in the distance. They were communicating. The trail took me past the second one, and I then realized that there was a third one to the south! Had I stumbled onto a secret white-breasted nuthatch telegraph system? How far did this thing stretch? Was I in any danger of being swarmed? Silly thoughts, of course, but fun to explore.

The trails here, old farm roads and paths, lead downwards through oaks, cedars and pines into a red maple swamp and eventually to the banks of a feeder brook of the North River. There's an observation tower there I plan to stand on one day as the sun comes up, to see what moves along the water's edge. Today, three mallards flew high across the sky, but little else was happening.

In a great marketing move, the Wildlands Trust has left an old footbridge directly next to a new boardwalk: the old and the new. They must have known I was coming, and would be bursting with prosaic inspiration at its sight.

I'll be back here to finish the rest of the sanctuary later this summer, when I come to see my friends the Allegheny mound ants. Oh, didn't I mention them?

Stay tuned.

Time: 75 minutes.

New species: None.

Stranger hellos: None.

What else in happening: meeting in Lincoln about the upcoming statewide Bird-A-Thon event; gave a quick history of the North River Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield to a group of budding naturalist volunteers, all part of an eight-hour work day; prepared to give three lectures in the next four days.

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