Author Archives: Lucy Kirshner

Fishers acting crazy 8 – 14 – 2015

It was a rainy night and photos are blurry but both cameras had images of two fishers together.  We suspect it is a mother and kit for we read that mating occurs shortly after birth in the spring and kits stay with the mother until late summer.  Here we are at late summer.

It appeared that the fishers spent a lot of time climbing the tree that one camera is tied to.  There were many confused, photos and the camera was askew in the morning. Most of the photos showed them coming and going on the bog walk though one series showed a fisher look under the dock, crouch, and leap to cling onto the statue that is at the size of the bog walk. I wish our images were more clear and so the statue would be visible as well as the clinging,  but these pictures did excite the imagination.

fisher ready to jump  fisher leaps to statue  fisher on statue

2 fisher rec 8-14



Baby Cowbird 8-12-2015

Everywhere we look baby birds are begging and parent birds are feeding them, but one begging bird caught our eye. This was a cowbird baby.  The mother cowbird must have laid her egg in the nest of a chipping sparrow. The egg hatched and soon the baby bird was significantly bigger than the mother bird – and hungry!  We heard the baby begging all during the day and found the mother diligently bringing grubs to “her” young one.  After a few days we could see the baby cowbird flying and eating on its own with the mother no longer bringing it food.webtwo flickers webcowbirdie feedsweb cowbirdie close web cowbird web chipping sparrow web big baby calls for mom

A new fawn 8-10-15

We rarely see deer on our property in the day, but they are there. Often we see deer in photos taken by the trail cameras.  And once in a while, as with the decimated bean plant, we see evidence of their visits.  We had been keeping track of a doe with a scar on her side. We knew from photos she was nursing a baby and today, at last, we caught a picture of the fawn!



web deer eats beansUntitled-1



Warming up

Over the last two weeks we have returned again and again to a spot in the bog where we’ve found multiple garter snakes basking in the sun.  We presume this is the location of a winter hibernaculum or den and we are lucky to witness the snakes waking up to spring sunshine.  They are difficult to count, both because of their camouflage and also their ability to weave in, under and back out of the leaf litter.  We have to count heads to be certain to get an accurate count.  Yesterday we saw nine!

a gravid garter?  two garters

It’s Spring!

Despite the snow that still covers the pond, the local residents know that it is spring.  This morning with temperatures over freezing, two bunnies cavorted under the bird feeder, two red squirrels chased each other across the yard and LOTS of chipmunks danced all around the place, up the trees and down, under the deck and over and in and out of multiple holes.

webtwo bunnies B  webtwo hudsons


44 degrees F.

The whole place is weeping – melting, actually – with the arrival of some warmer weather.  Forty degrees feels balmy.  A great blue heron arrived to check if there is any open water at the pond’s edge.  No clear edge yet, but this bird will be back!

one leg


A Brown Gray

Our population of eastern gray squirrels, Sciurus carolinensus, is lively today. They are chasing each other out from under the bird feeder, spiraling us through the oak trees.  In this area it is common to see the melanistic, black form of the gray squirrel as well as the white bellied gray form but today, for the first time we have watched a reddish brown fellow, mixing right along with the other shades of gray.

shades of gray

Winter sightings

This winter, with snowfall flirting with breaking a record, we spent weeks at the equator, enjoying the antics of animals we don’t see in New England.

All during our absence we imagined the trail cameras at the pond would capture weeks of animal behavior.  Upon our return we had to snowshoe through the woods to retrieve a frozen camera, buried under feet of ice and snow.

Even tracks in the snow have been few and hard to read.  We’ve seen a rabbit regularly, bright red fox now and then, and a few tracks of coyote, deer and vole.  Our imagination is busy trying to visualize all the animal life coping through these freezing, snow covered days.


web lions


Tracks in the snow 1-12-15

All through the woods the snow is covered with tracks. We see mostly cottontail, fox, fisher and squirrel.  The squirrel tracks are everywhere but most of the others seem to move on the paths and walkways.  The books tell us that January is a typical mating season for cottontails and we do see the rabbit that lives under the front porch out and about a lot.

fox web gray squirrel web turkey tail web turkey web fisher web Cottontail

COLD! 1-5-15

The news around here is that there have been very, very few animals caught in the nighttime camera.  In fact for the last five days we have only “caught” the cottontail bunny, coming and going on his schedule, despite high wind and temperatures in the teens.  The lively, flocks of very small birds at the feeder has been testament to their remarkable adaptations for New England weather.  Apparently they find protected communal roosts at night, shivering and sharing body heat, then spend every waking moment finding food. Some can lower their metabolism to a state of torpor when it is very cold.

male cardinal chicadee in flight light goldfinch bunny in cold

Mystery solved 12-21-14

A few days ago we wondered what the fisher had in its mouth . . . . .  today we found the answer. That striped mouthful was a raccoon tail and today we had many images of a bob-tailed raccoon.  Compare the regular tail and bob tail below.


Flocks 12-19-14

The ordinary can be extraordinary.  On this gray day we had visits from several huge flocks of birds.  First dozens of robins descended on the cedar berries and dug around in the leaf litter. Of course the resident flock of turkeys was ever present with the two biggest males strutting. Just now we counted more than thirty mourning doves, well camouflaged in the meadow.

flock of doves two mailes strut robin in flock

Fisher with prey 12-14-14

Last night, once again, there were many pictures of a fisher or maybe more than one fisher. Either the single animal goes back and forth on the bog walk repeatedly or there are more than one. The fisher with something in its mouth puzzles us.  What did it catch?

webfisher later webfisher with prey3

Fisher 12-4-14

A couple of times a month our nighttime camera catches a fisher. We see these secretive members of the weasel family so rarely – even though we read that they are active in both day and night – that every photo fascinates us. They are BIG, about two feet long, with long tails and big feet. Last night the tapetum of this one’s eye reflected light of the full moon. There were so many images of fisher last night we believe TWO visited, one larger and darker.

wbfisher39-26 wbfisher 12-14 fisher looks up

Hooded mergansers 12-2-14

wmhoodie 023 wmhoodies m&f

For the last few days, right before the pond surface froze, hooded mergansers have been visiting, fishing all over the pond and congregating near the wood duck house that is nearest our house.  Sometimes there are several females and sometimes several males. Last year thirteen hoodies hatched from that duck house and we wonder if some have returned to their birth place.

Otters 11-29-14

wmotter into the kayak wmbreakfast on the pond   wm three OtterJ   Three otters spent two weeks on the pond, dipping and diving, catching bass and sunfish on almost every dive. We saw one full sized adult and two smaller, shorter tailed animals, and so surmised it was a mother and two pups. When we stood outside we could hear them chattering to each other and when we disappeared inside the door they slipped up on the dock, exploring the shoreline and kayak.


Coyotes 11-26-14

wmcoyote dsb wmfemale coy frontwmfemale coy behindStarting with Halloween night we noticed coyotes – more than one – yipping and howling in the darkness. The night camera caught them traipsing back and forth from evening until dawn. Two animals were easy to distinguish in the nighttime photographs, a very large male with dark fur, a black line between the eyes, a prominent black spot on his tail and black splotches at the base of his legs, along with a smaller, lighter furred companion, we presume a female.

One night coyote howls were close, and more insistent than usual.  In the morning we saw, with binoculars, a carcass on the far southwest shore of the pond. Closer inspection revealed a kill site, a young deer disemboweled and half eaten. That same morning we found a large patch of ground at the north end of the pond, covered with deer hair – maybe from the tail or belly of a deer.



drink at birdbath wmTwo big guys wmturkey in flight1-4 wmturkeys in the snowWith Thanksgiving approaching, our annual visitors arrived – a large flock of wild turkeys. At this time of year these birds sleep in the tall pines at the edge of the pond and glide down in the morning to check the  grounds for seed and to nestle in the sunny meadow, sheltered by the woods. In the late fall and early winter, the females and younger males hang out together and the two large males swagger around on their own.