• Naturalist Notes: December, 2018

    >> Naturalist Notes & Musings:

    December is here and the days just keep getting shorter. The phenomenon of long days in the summer and shorter ones in the winter is one that we learn to live with, but it’s the real calendar for the comings, goings, and doings of Nature.

    While quite a few organisms base their seasonal cycles of sprouting, flowering, hibernation and mating on temperature, many can’t trust the vagaries of temperature, and use day length as a much more reliable indicator of what is in store for them or their progeny. Snowstorms in October and 65 degree days in January are very real possibilities, and could easily trick plants and animals into thinking that the seasons are farther along than they really are; sometimes with deadly results. Snapping out of dormancy too soon, when there are still months of winter left could be catastrophic!

    Once we get into January and bitter weather is really upon us, keep your chin up: it might be cold and wintry, but the days will just keep getting longer!

    See you on the trails,

    Marc Gussen, Naturalist

     

     


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  • Naturalist Notes: March, 2018

    NATURALIST’S NOTES: March, 2018

     As the days lengthen and the air temperatures warms, nature gives us many signs that spring is on the way. The harbinger of spring that has the most profound effect on me and on my natural history calendar is the first sighting of aquatic turtles. During winter, ponds and lakes don't seem like hot beds of animal activity, but a lot goes on under the ice. Fish of all kinds can be actively feeding and prepping for the spring breeding season. Being cold blooded doesn't stop fish from enjoying winter, but reptiles like our native eastern painted turtles and northern water snakes must hibernate to survive the cold months. The red-eared sliders are the first of our aquatic turtles to make a showing in the spring, with painted and snapping turtles soon to follow. After months of sleeping in the mud, they awaken as the water temperatures rise and they set out to look for their first meal of the new year. On warm sunny days in March they can sometimes be seen sitting en masse on the rocks around Ruckman Pond soaking up some much needed sunshine. I look forward to seeing the first robin and hearing the first spring peeper; but soon, on a warm and sunny afternoon, a little head will pop up and break the water’s surface marking the end of winter.

    See ya on the trails.

    Marc Gussen, Naturalist


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  • Naturalist Notes: January, 2018

    2018 is here, and it’s time for a New Year’s resolution. Every year I try to come up with something that will improve my health and happiness. This year I have a new, simple, and hopefully fruitful resolution...spend more time outside. The benefits are tremendous, it’s free, and can be fun for the whole family. Exercise is without out a doubt the best way to maintain physical and mental health, and there is no better place to do it than outside. When winter sets in it can be tough to get out, but dressing for the weather and keeping your time outside relatively short can be the difference between an ordeal and wonderful hour in nature. 
    Having real winter gear is important for extended outdoor activities, but simply dressing in layers and wearing some decent foot gear is all you need for a couple of trips around the pond. Give it a shot, turn over a new leaf, and start the new year with a resolution that will never cease to enrich you life in more ways than you can imagine.

    Happy New Year!

    Marc Gussen, Naturalist

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  • Naturalist Notes: December, 2017

    NATURALIST’S NOTES:

    Fall is slowly coming to an end, and everything in nature is readying for winter. Plants are closing up shop, migrants are leaving, forest residents are prepping to sleep or stick it out; and we are here to enjoy it all. Late fall is probably my favorite time to be in the woods.  Deep breaths of cool autumn air, the sound of crunching leaves under my feet, and that magical fall smell of the forest are just some the reasons to take a hike in December.  With the leaves off the trees, visibility is increased and you would be amazed at the number of last years’ nests that are visible now. Animal watching reaches new levels, since seeing birds of all kinds and mammals is easy without leaves blocking your view. The sounds of the forest are enhanced as well. I am always amazed at how far the sounds of woodpeckers can travel in a leafless forest. It’s not just the loud and obvious, but the soft sounds of squirrels’ claws on the bark of tree as they scurry up to safety, and the footsteps of deer traipsing along can finally be heard. As the temperature drops and the days shorten, and we are often feeling trapped inside, let’s not forget what a great time it is to be outside.

    See you on the trails,
    Marc Gussen, Naturalist

     


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  • Naturalist Notes: April, 2017

    The Winter of 2017 was pretty mild, but it ended with some serious snow. Everyone knows that “April showers bring May flowers”, but March snow-melt is just…


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