Fall 2015 newsletter

Fall 2015 TQF Newsletter-1The Fall 2015 newsletter of The Quarry Farm Nature Preserve and Conservation Farm is here, “hot off the press.” Have a click and read all about it. You may see yourself or someone you know in the pages.

So much has happened in the past three months, especially in September. Despite the cooling temperatures, we have plans for more this winter. Stay tuned to our website and Facebook for Star Walks and programs.

See you on the trails, with boots on.

Fall 2014 newsletter

Fall 2014 TQF Newsletter-1

 

 

The temperature may be dropping, but the beat goes on here on The Quarry Farm. Click on the newsletter cover over to the left and keep up with what’s happening in the pavilion, the sanctuary, the Red Fox and on the trails.

And speaking of trails, hope to see you on them this autumn.

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.).

Talking Turkey

Five wild turkeys ambled through our yard today, not two hundred feet from our home. We frequently hear them in the morning back on the quarry and occasionally see them in the evening, well behind our house, roosting in the cottonwood and walnut trees. They’ve never come this close before, though, and even though I know that they’re simply wandering to and from the soy bean fields across the road and so are likely to pass close by either here or Red Fox Cabin, it still caused me a bit of concern. I worried that they were becoming less wary, less concerned about our presence and, by association, the presence of other people, as well. I worried about the upcoming turkey season and how they’d prove easy targets if they were comfortable around us.

I worried, that is, until I tried to get a photo.

It was Anne who first spotted them and pointed them out to me. They were walking down a path along the tree line that separates the farm part of The Quarry Farm from the nature preserve side. I grabbed my camera and headed out to where Anne had last seen them. I moved to the far side of the tree line and worked my way up the path on the other side, then down the path on our side of the trees. Then up again. Then down. You’re looking at every photo I was able to get. You see them, right? The photographs, here between the lines of black and white text? Yeah, neither do I. That’s because I couldn’t get any. I can’t say that I didn’t see them. I did, at least in bits and pieces: the glide of a blue-gray head; a bronze-feathered body slipping through brush; a quick flash of red from a wattle. But that was all I got, quick glimpses. They ran me round and round an area about the size of an American football field, always on the other side of the field and always virtually concealed in thick scrub. So, no worries about their growing comfortable with humans. And no photos, either, not of turkeys anyway. But, since a picture paints a thousand words, here’s a shot from the winter before last.

It is autumn, though, and there are plenty of other animals moving about. In the back field, a leopard frog boasted better than average camouflage. If it hadn’t jumped, I never would have seen it. In the woods, the last of summer’s dragonflies are torpid with the cold, allowing for some pretty extreme close-ups. Closer to home, in the crabapple tree some thirty feet from our front door, a wheel bug traveled leaf to leaf, hunting an increasingly rare meal.

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