A Shoot, a Release and a Puzzle Solved

As the woods back on the quarry develops, the trees that make the forest are changing. Where there were hawthorne and honeylocust and hackberry, now sugar maples are the prevailing tree. In autumn, these maples provide the brilliant bursts of color that make New England the tourist destination that it is. What better time, then, for The Quarry Farm’s third photo shoot and nature walk?

For those of you that missed it – and you did indeed miss it; it was yesterday – it was just about as good a day as we could have asked for: warm, but not too warm; slightly overcast, but just enough so that it enhanced the lighting for photography; and breezy but not windy. Diane Myers, the rehabilitator behind Black Swamp Raptor Rehabilitation, came for the second time and brought a trio of birds. Included in the mix were a screech owl, a short-eared owl and a barred owl. These birds are permanent residents at her facility and as such are more accustomed to people than their wild counterparts, making image captures a whole lot easier.  The shooting of the birds went as expected, with Diane setting up shop on the grounds near Red Fox Cabin, leashing the birds to tree limb perches so as to increase the impression of a more natural environment. As a bonus, Diane also brought along two rehabilitated birds for release, a red-tailed hawk and a screech owl. In addition to the birds, aquatic macroinvertebrates were on hand, as well as a juvenile Virginia opossum.

The walk back onto the quarry proper was beautiful, but uneventful. We did, however, have a mystery resolved. While on last winter’s photo shoot and walk, we discovered a vole skewered in a hawthorne tree. There was a lot of conjecture at the time as to how the vole could have come to such a state and we settled on the idea that something most likely stashed it there. Well, we were right. According to Dr. Biehl, a naturalist and falconer who was along for this fall’s walk, the vole was stashed there by a loggerhead shrike (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/loggerhead_shrike/id.).

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