God's Creatures

Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.
~Dr. Albert Schweitzer~

All photographs courtesy of Google images.


Winter Lingers...

What a lovely, brilliant sun-filled day! Temperatures were near sixty degrees, but I still found winter lingering at York Lake. This lake, at the Sandisfield State Park, is half in New Marlborough and half in Sandisfield, Massachusetts.
There is this warning if you go to York Lake:

Be Bear Aware:
Don't forget you are in Black Bear country. Never physically confront, feed, torment or throw anything at bears. Take appropriate precautions with food so as not to attract bears.

"March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes
and a laugh in her voice."
- Hal Borland


The Bears are Back!

~We had our first Black Bear visitor last night, March 18th!~

Lumbering through the yard at dusk, was a black bear, a male with a large round head, (females have a pointed, narrower head), about 400 pounds or more! He was huge, healthy looking with a beautiful shiny coat, and he was hungry. Sitting under the birdfeeders, he wasn't leaving, even with all the yelling and bell clanging. I have an old ship's bell on my porch, which I ring with gusto when the bears show up - it is the 'neighborhood bear alert' bell. This bear wasn't scared; he would run a few yards, then come right back. Time now, to take in all the birdfeeders folks, unless you want these visitors on a daily basis.

It was too dark for me to get a photo of last night's visitor, all that you can see are two glowing spots in the dark. Below are pictures of past bear visitors.


Goodbye Winter...

Hello Spring!

March 20, 2010
Vernal Equinox

Equinox Means "Equal Night," because the sun is positioned above the equator, day and night are about equal in length all over the world during the equinoxes. On March 20, 2010, at precisely 1:32 P.M. EDT, the Sun will cross directly over the Earth's equator. This moment is known as the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. For the Southern Hemisphere, this is the moment of the autumnal equinox.

"Snow Crossing" & "Spring Signs" ©Jan Boults Photography, Inc.
Equinox Image and Info courtesy of Google & Infoplease.com


The Lone Turkey

I have often thought about writing a wildlife book for children, and the chapter on the wild turkey would begin, “Do you know where the turkeys sleep? High in the treetops, standing on their feet!” For several years I followed a flock of turkeys, hiking along their trails through the woods every day, watching them come and go, mate and return with babies, and catching them asleep very early in the morning. They actually “roost” on branches high up in the trees, usually in a line along the edge of a ridge. Flying a short distance from the ridge to the top of a tree is an easy “lift” for a turkey - they generally do not fly far distances, or get very high off the ground. They stand, with their big claw feet wrapped on a good size branch, fluff out their feathers, tuck in their head, and stay that way until dawn. The descent in the morning is an easy “swoop” down out of the trees to land at the bottom of the hillside.

Beautiful, big and proud, we have all seen this bird, the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) which is found in almost every area of the world. Many of us have seen huge flocks of turkeys - 30 or more at a time, but have you ever noticed just one? It repeatedly returns to the same area, or trail, never with any other turkeys, or if it happens on a flock, it will stay on the outskirts of the group, because if it ventures in the other hens chase it away. It becomes a loner, not chosen to be part of the flock, and lives out a solitary life in the wild.

In late summer, hens with their broods are emerging from the sheltering underbrush and low-lying areas around riverbeds and swamps where they have been nesting and raising their young since spring. They will join up with other hens and chicks to form large flocks (can be up to 100 turkeys in a flock). So you will see them roaming hillsides, spread out in many black dots across a wide open field, pecking along the side of the road, and coming into yards to check out birdfeeders. You might also catch a glimpse of a long line of young turkeys marching behind their mothers.

Eventually by late fall, the large flocks have separated into much smaller groups, with one or two toms to 6 or 8 hens, in preparation for the spring mating season. The “pecking order” or choosing does not appear totally random, as I’ve watched toms fight over hens and have actually seen hens switch from one group to another during a fight between the males, and switch back again, after one of the toms apparently “won”. There is no blood shed, or killing when the toms face off, they just do a lot of puffing, strutting and fluffing, and of course gobbling. Once the flock has regrouped, there usually remains a turkey or two not chosen, and it is not chosen for the simple, basic rule of the wild - survival of the fittest - the sick and weak are not wanted in the newly formed, smaller flocks. The one left behind is usually injured, old, or a young turkey not fully developed.

For several years we had “the lone turkey” in our yard, she was very old, it was apparent by her large hanging snood - the flap of skin that hangs over the turkey's beak and her wattle - the flap of skin under the turkey's chin, which turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship. She had a very blue and bumpy face and neck marked with scratches and scars (we use to watch her through our binoculars), her feathers were pretty ragged and she limped – but could still fly high in a second if something startled her. She would sit under our bird feeding table during snowstorms, all hunched up, and just look so forlorn and miserable – she looked like she was wishing for greener pastures. She became use to our comings and goings and would never go very far from the yard. We’d see her sleeping in the high trees at the edge of our property, and she would be the first one in after I put out cracked corn and filled all the feeders. She had a very wise and calm presence, as if she had all the time in the world to sit out in the sun. She was our loner for several years, our guest that we called “old turkey-girl”, but sadly, last year she never returned, and we like to picture her having a gobbling good time in greener pastures.

"The Lone Turkey", previously published in
The New Marlborough 5 Village News,
February, 2007
"Turkey Tracks" ©Jan Boults Photography


Out my Door...

Brilliant sunshine, almost 50 degrees in Southern Berkshire County!
A spectacular late, late winter day.
Spring arrives on Saturday, the 20th!

Signs of Spring...

A small bird is splashing around in the birdbath,
finally free of its ring of ice;
Buds are thick and bright maroon on the maples;
The Phoebe is calling;
Chipmunks are chasing each other over snowbanks;
Flocks of Red-Winged Blackbirds chatter in the treetops
getting ready to descend to my feeders;
My three cats are lounging on the screened-in porch,
coming out from their blanket cocoons of winter;
And I sit, with a mug of tea, out in the middle of the yard surrounded by snow, basking in the glorious sunshine!


You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.
Saint Bernard (1090 - 1153), Epistle
"Stone in the Tree", ©JanBoultsPhotography

Wildlife Friends, we will soon see again!

Hummingbirds & Flowers
Yellow-spotted salamander; On a Spring night, near Lake Buel in Monterey, MA you might come upon folks with flashlights stopping traffic so the salamanders can cross the road!
From Wikipedia: During the majority of the year, Spotted Salamanders live in the shelter of leaves or burrows in deciduous forests. However, when the temperature rises and there is a higher moisture level, the salamanders make their abrupt migration towards their annual breeding pond. In just one night, hundreds to thousands of salamanders may make the trip to their ponds for mating. Mates usually breed in ponds when it's raining in the spring.
Mr. Porcupine, trying to hide from me!

I've actually already seen a chip or two running around on the snowbanks!
Soon to be Butterfly!
And we can't forget the bears... they will be waking up SOON!

All photographs ©JanBoultsPhotography


Welcome March!

"The March wind roars
Like a lion in the sky,
And makes us shiver
As he passes by.

When winds are soft,
And the days are warm and clear,
Just like a gentle lamb,
Then spring is here."

Author Unknown
"Winter Sunrise" ©2010 JanBoultsPhotography