It began with the tufted titmouse. As I crossed the library’s parking lot, the bird’s voice caught my attention, which seemed odd knowing that titmice live year-round in Massachusetts. I probably hear them every day, but this was February 2, the day when winter-weary humans pin their hopes on groundhogs. With no rodents in sight, I was listening to a “spring” song: “Here, here!” The bird wasn’t forecasting the weather.
Several readers identified “What Is It! #8” as an owl pellet. I expected this, but the discovery of a pellet gives me an excuse to delve into a fascinating topic.
Last April I found this particular pellet under a large pine between Queset House and the garden. It was 1 ¾ inches long by ⅞ inches wide, compact and lightweight, with a surface layer of gray fur. Before we look inside, let’s review what pellets are and why birds produce them.
A dust bunny? My cat’s hairball? What is this object?
“How lucky are we to have received so many amazing submissions!” exclaimed Megan Tully, Head of Reference & Adult Services at the Ames Free Library. The staff had just voted for their favorite “Picturing Winter” entries . . . and it wasn’t easy! Twenty-seven photographers submitted 108 photos that reflected many ways of seeing winter, especially our theme of “Ice & Snow.” Thanks to all for participating and sharing your talents and perspectives. What fun!
Welcome to AFL Staff Stories! Every month we'll introduce you (or REintroduce you!) to a different member of the AFL Staff and tell you a little about their favorites.
This month, meet one of AFL's Queset House Managers, Dana Hourigan. Click here for Dana's stories.
Now that you’ve had some practice finding crustose, foliose, and fruticose lichens, it’s time to fine-tune your observations. Let’s begin with patterns. I urge you to spend some time during the next few weeks learning a few of the most frequently-seen lichen families and familiarizing yourself with their general forms. This post will offer several local examples and two online resources to get you started.
What perfect timing! Snow and lichens are coordinated for maximum beauty and relevance to this blog.
As several readers noted, last week’s “What Is It!” was a lichen, one of those extraordinary partnerships between a fungus and an alga. I am sure many of you have seen it on the library’s Main Street wall. Yes, that yellow “paint” is alive!
Have you seen the subject of this week’s “What Is It!” game? If you recognize this organism, submit your ID to A Glimpse of Nature. Where have you seen this species? Check back next week for an ID and overview of the topic.
There was a time, not so very long ago, when gardening consumed most of my free time and creativity. This was especially true when I first moved to a tumbledown-but-promising homestead in Pembroke in 2010. I eagerly established shrub borders, a butterfly garden, walkways, a patio, vegetable beds, container plantings, new trees, an apple orchard, a wildflower meadow . . . and looked forward to the shade and wetland gardens, when other interests and responsibilities lured me away. Neglect has, once again, taken hold.