BACK TO NATURE!
It's time to get back to the world of nature. The campground is now left to the animals and an occasional hiker like me. I will open with one sign of spring that caught my eye......the catkins of Aspen growing on trees lining Island Road. They look like Pussy Willows, but have different bud scales and parts. These are eye catching flowers, mind you.
I have been unsuccessful in finding moth cocoons this year and devoted another two hours to scouting around the shubbery trying to find them. As you may know, there are moths that form a cocoon which hangs from a branch through the winter. Once the foliage drops, they become visible. Cecropia and Promethea moths do this. I knew there were reports of the former flying at the campground last year, so where are their cocoons? I came up empty, but later in searching behind the local school, I discovered several. There, the Cecropia cocoon was attached to the fence surrounding the playing field! (see picture to the right) That was a surprise, though I've seen Monarch chysalises hanging from that fence in the fall. Now I have to decide whether to remove the cocoon or leave it there. Last year I found one such cocoon and someone cut the branch and took it home! I do know that I will share this find with some of the kids, that I trust to protect and perhaps witness the emergence, of this magnificent moth.
My outings were also highlighted by several other finds. I walked all over the cattail marsh looking for bird nests, but found none. Luckily, the ice held me. I did find several spider egg cases in various locations, and think I found a fox den. I am finding several squirrel nests, one of which was in the apple tree over that pile of rose hips I discovered earlier. Come to think of it, two nests I found were in apple trees.....again, near that food source.
Behind the school I followed the tracks of a turkey of two. They leave star-like tracks in the snow, as they move from place to place, scratching under trees to secure a meager meal. I haven't seen signs of turkey on the campground, but others have. It is always fun to follow their tracks. I used to do this often in Connecticut as they meandered over the hills. I'd love to find where they roost here. I also found more Snow Fleas, so maybe now that I am thinking about them......I am finding them. They are so tiny that they are easily overlooked.
You really should be looking for moth cocoons in your neighborhoods. The Promethea looks like a folded leaf dangling from a twig....usuallly cherry or Spicebush(see one to the right). The Cecropia is larger and looks fibrous and gray. It does not dangle from a branch (or fence!) but is attached lengthwise. I've actually spotted them while driving by in a car. They are that large. But again, you have to know what to look for. Develop a search image, and you may get lucky.
A lot of these finds would not be found if the foliage was on the trees and shrubs. Winter provides us some great searching opportunities to learn the secrets of our animal friends! 3/5/08 Ronnie, the nature lover.