Death and Vitality in the world of nature....
My story begins on a sad note. I was walking on Head Beach at a relatively high tide, observing the strand line on that ocean beach, when I came upon this dead bird. I figured it was a tern, but wondered if it was more than a Common Tern that nest in our area. The black tip on its red beak confirmed the fact. It was the first time I had seen this bird washed up on our beaches. These are the birds we see diving for fish, beak first. It is such a small, fragile looking bird to survive such plunges. They migrate south to Florida and beyond, but not as far as their look-alike, the Arctic Tern which has a red beak with no black tip.
On a happier subject, I found my way from the beaches as seen on the Home Page, to the Lily Pond to see what the beaver was up to. I forged my way through the thicket on the west end of the pond to get a closer look at the lodge and any sign of activity. It was fairly easy to get up close since the edge of the pond in that area has dried up to a degree. Also, the mud is not the sinking variety! There were lots of chewed shrubs, but none freshly chewed. I thought the lodge opening might make these rodents vulnerable since it may be exposed on the far side I couldn't get to. I didn't find any definitive prints, and scat is seldom found. I have a feeling that these animals continue to satisfy their appetites with soft vegetation which made me think, how then do they keep those ever growing teeth in check? The gnawing on hard wood keeps them at the appropriate cutting size. I have yet to see these animals, though I have not been over as darkness descends...maybe soon.
There were migrating Monarchs in large numbers. Most were stopping to feed on the abundant Goldenrod and purple Asters. They wouldn't sit still for a picture, but take my word for it, these butterflies are still on the move. I have two still in chrysalises, in fact one is by my side since it is ready to break free from its casing and has lost its grip on the sticky button. These insects have to hang while their wings enlarge and become firm, otherwise the wings will not become flyable. Aside from the Monarchs, I saw several other butterflies that I had not seen this summer. Why, you might ask? The first was a Mourning Cloak that over winters as an adult butterfly. The other two also survive late into the season - a Question Mark (yes, there is a butterfly with that name!) and a Red Admiral.
Here is a Spring Peeper, found
in the late September woods. It is similar to the one that was
found in the newspaper tube. Today I walked in the woods at Totman
Cove and easily found 4 others, though very small. The picture
to the right is a bit fuzzy, but I wanted to show its face and
pointed snout. There is a color variation to these tree frogs,
some are darker, others almost gray. The design on their back
usually resembles an X, but in this case, doesn't quite make the
intersection. These are such small, fragile frogs, one can't help
but wonder how they survive the winter to peep again in the spring.
9/28/06 Ronnie, Peeking at Peepers