Archive for February, 2015

2015 Birds of Fresh Pond Reservation Calendar

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February 28, 2015 – an owl a day keeps small dogs away

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: Another bright sunny day with almost no wind, but still below freezing. Many small dog owners have been informed about yesterday’s incident where a Great Horned Owl almost caught Phoebe. Jasper, on heading home through the Eastern Pine Woods, heard two Great Horned Owls calling near the Orlando bench. Hanging around for a few minutes, one of them was observed flying in a westerly direction and parallel to Huron Avenue. They started calling again about 100+ yards away, one of them farther away in the direction of the golf course.

Today’s Weather. See last month’s Weather Calendar OR this month’s.

Link of the day: The Robert Falcon Scott expedition and the lost cure for scurvy by Maciej Cegłowski

Book of the day: This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress The bestselling editor of This Explains Everything brings together 175 of the world’s most brilliant minds to tackle Edge.org’s 2014 question: What scientific idea has become a relic blocking human progress? Each year, John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org—”The world’s smartest website” (The Guardian)—challenges some of the world’s greatest scientists, artists, and philosophers to answer a provocative question crucial to our time. In 2014 he asked 175 brilliant minds to ponder: What scientific idea needs to be put aside in order to make room for new ideas to advance? The answers are as surprising as they are illuminating.

Photo of the day: Rex, a Deer Head Chihuahua, is a good friend of mine.

Twitter tweets: fprtwit OR Creme De La Internet

Video of the day:


February 27, 2015 – snow will continue until moral improves

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: At around 6pm Phoebe, a small black Pug, was walking on the path, near the dog beach, about 20 yards behind her Homo sapiens. The HS, by chance, turned around and saw a Great Horned Owl gliding down the path towards Phoebe. He did the first two necessary right things and Phoebe was saved. With two Great Horned Owls very likely to be raising owlets here, and frequent visits by Bald Eagles, all small dogs owners need to be careful. Three months ago a similar incident happened with another small dog and a Bald Eagle on Glacken Field. Today is International Polar Bear Day.

Today’s Weather. See last month’s Weather Calendar OR this month’s.

Link of the day: 2015 Sony World Photography Awards Shortlist Announced!

Book of the day: The Great Horned Owl: An In-depth Study

Video of the day:


February 26, 2015 – when our best friend leaves this world

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: Two Canada Geese land on the ice and snow covered reservoir and then appear to take a nap. Rabbits are getting hungry enough to eat the bark off bushes for about the first 18 inches above the snow level. Look closely and you will see pellets scattered amongst the branches. Jasper found one area to be especially interesting. He appeared to be eating small pieces of bark and twigs that retained the smell and taste of rabbit. It gets harder and harder to find bittersweet clumps to feed the birds. A dog walker describes seeing a Great Horned Owl in a tree directly over the path. It then flew off in the direction of Kingsley Park. Our old friend, the male Lesser Scaup, continues his daily dives and dining at the Weir Meadow open water. There were no Herring Gulls for company today. There’s a new puppy at the pond: Olive, a female Beagle, four months old.

Today’s Weather. Scroll down to see last month’s Weather Calendar.

Link of the day: When Our Best Friend Leaves This World “Today was a day I knew was inevitable, but dreaded nonetheless. For today we said farewell to Maximus, our delightful, intelligent, charming rescue dog.”

Book of the day: Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming “McKenzie Funk has spent the last six years reporting around the world on how we are preparing for a warmer planet. Funk shows us that the best way to understand the catastrophe of global warming is to see it through the eyes of those who see it most clearly—as a market opportunity.”

Video of the day: Watch carefully and you can see the Great Horned Owl inhaling and exhaling as it calls from high up in a tree near the Orlando/Virginia Woolf bench.


February 25, 2015 – our off the charts February snow

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: Another change at the Weir Meadow open water area. The male Common Merganser is gone and the male Lesser Scaup is back–along with about 20 Herring Gulls. Several Massachusetts Black-capped Chickadees were searching for food near the alternate water fountain. There are only small patches of bittersweet and other berries remaining at the reservation. No Great Horned Owl calling during today’s time in and near the Eastern Pine Woods.

Today’s Weather. Scroll down to see last month’s Weather Calendar.

Link of the day: Boston’s Ridiculous February Snowfall (for every February since 1891) In One Chart

Book of the day: Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming

Video of the day:


February 24, 2015 – antibiotic resistance/misuse documentary

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: A male Common Merganser seems to have replaced the male Lesser Scaup that’s been at the Weir Meadow open water. From Olga’s Bench two Great Horned Owls were audible in the Eastern Pine Woods. It stopped after 3-4 minutes. They had nothing more to say as Jasper cavorted in the woods near the Orlando bench. This may be the coldest day of the year.

Today’s Weather. Scroll down to see last month’s Weather Calendar.

Link of the day: Resistance: The Movie That Will Make You Care About Antibiotic Misuse

Book of the day: The Antibiotic Paradox: How the Misuse of Antibiotics Destroys Their Curative Powers “In this totally revised and updated edition of the classic primer on the misuse of antibiotics, Dr. Stuart Levy reveals how our cavalier and naïve attitude about the power of antibiotics can have -and already has had-dire consequences. He explains that we are currently witnessing a massive evolutionary change in bacteria. This build-up of new antibiotic-resistant bacteria in individuals and the environment, mixed with our overzealous use of antibiotic soaps and the unregulated dispensing of antibiotics worldwide, is leading us into a dangerous territory where our “miracle” drugs will no longer help.”

Video of the day:


February 23, 2015 – best song about evolution

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: No Jasper on today’s walk. This is a shopping day and, besides, he can use the rest after his exertion climbing Glacken Slope to catch that raccoon yesterday. Cold and windy again, as opposed to yesterday’s almost 40 degrees Spring day. Another female Downy Woodpecker hunting for bugs under the bark of trees, near the alternate water fountain. Male Lesser Scaup duck still at his Weir Meadow open water post. One Nuthatch and many Robins scouring bittersweet vines for food.

Song of the day: Born This Way (Lady Gaga) The best song ever about evolution.

Other songs about evolution:
Big Bang Theory (Barenaked Ladies),
Do the Evolution (Pearl Jam),
Monkey To Man (Elvis Costello),
Accelerated Evolution (Allegaeon)
Shock The Monkey (Peter Gabriel),

Today’s Weather. Scroll down to see last month’s Weather Calendar.

Link of the day: evolution

Book of the day: “In the current debate about creationism and intelligent design, there is an element of the controversy that is rarely mentioned-the evidence. Yet the proof of evolution by natural selection is vast, varied, and magnificent. In this succinct and accessible summary of the facts supporting the theory of natural selection, Jerry A. Coyne dispels common misunderstandings and fears about evolution and clearly confirms the scientific truth that supports this amazing process of change. Weaving together the many threads of modern work in genetics, paleontology, geology, molecular biology, and anatomy that demonstrate the “indelible stamp” of the processes first proposed by Darwin, Why Evolution Is True does not aim to prove creationism wrong. Rather, by using irrefutable evidence, it sets out to prove evolution right.”

Video of the day:


February 22, 2015 – citizen scientist organizations

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: A dog walker reveals how, after 20+ years of walking here, they just learned you can see the Prudential and Hancock towers from some parts of Fresh Pond Reservation. A group of people pass me near the north end of Little Fresh Pond. Half an hour later they encounter me at Glacken Slope, having turned around. They report a Bald Eagle over the golf course near where we passed. Meanwhile, Jasper is attempting to gallop uphill, through really deep snow, after having jumped, uphill, to get over a fence. Moments later the object of his frantic chase becomes visible. A raccoon is atop a tree atop Glacken Slope. Jasper gets to the top of the hill after great effort only to be focusing on and circling the wrong tree. The right tree is directly behind him. Jasper and the raccoon are barely visible.

Today’s Weather. Scroll down to see last month’s Weather Calendar.

Link of the day: Citizen Science Association A community of practice for the field of public participation in scientific research.

Book of the day: Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard “Anyone can get involved in gathering data for ongoing, actual scientific studies such as the Audubon Bird Count and FrogWatch USA. Just get out into a field, urban park, or your own backyard. You can put your nose to a monarch pupa or listen for raucous frog calls. You can tally woodpeckers or sweep the grass for ladybugs. This book, full of engaging photos and useful tips, will show you how.”

Citizen Scientist Organizations

Beach Watchers

Bird Lovers

Hitchhikers (invasive species)

Amateurs Unite – The Society for Amateur Scientists (LABRats: science scouting program)

Video of the day:


February 21, 2015 – the hottest year on record

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: Less than a dozen Herring Gulls at the Weir Meadow open water area. And probably the same single male Lesser Scaup. A female Downy Woodpecker was looking for insects on and in the bark of a dead tree at the base of Glacken Slope. The temperature almost got up to the freezing point.

Today’s Weather. Scroll down to see last month’s Weather Calendar.

Link of the day: 2014 Was the Hottest Year on Record

Book of the day: Wild Bird Guide: Downy Woodpecker “The downy woodpecker is the smallest and one of the most common woodpeckers in North America. It is a bird that most every birder, regardless of expertise, has watched with great interest, in particular during the winter. It is only fitting, then, that it should be profiled in one of the first books in this excellent series. The book covers all aspects of the downy’s life-cycle in a clear and well written manner, and almost every page has at least one color photo to accompany what is being discussed. This book, therefore, is an excellent resource for those who want a more in depth understanding of the species, but who lack the desire to subject themselves to reading scientific studies. My only complaint with the book is that in a few instances the author was repetitive, in particular in regards to flocking and nest-site selection and excavation.”

Video of the day:


February 20, 2015 – Symphony of the Soil

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: A year-round walker tells me of seeing a Sharp-shinned Hawk eating a squirrel near Blacks Nook and Concord Avenue. Another person saw the same scene and thought the bird was injured because it didn’t fly away, and wanted to call the police. The first person finally convinced them of what was really going on and there was no need to call the police. Here are photos of the squirrel who helped the hawk possibly raise a family next Spring and Summer. A little after 5pm a Bald Eagle was observed flying over the reservoir from southeast to northwest. Great Horned Owls were calling in the Eastern Pine Woods near the Orlando bench. It was light enough to get some photos of the treetops where the sound was coming from but not much owl–except for this one. The single male Lesser Scaup swimming in the Weir Meadow open water was observed grooming and preening.

Today’s Weather. Scroll down to see last month’s Weather Calendar.

Link of the day: http://www.symphonyofthesoil.com (although very little soil is visible, here at Fresh Pond Reservation, this year)

Book of the day: Dirt: The Scoop on Soil “Discusses the nature, uses, and importance of soil and the many forms of life that it supports.”

Video of the day:


February 19, 2015 – galloping glaciers

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: There was a single male Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) swimming in the open water near the Weir Meadow. A number of Robins were seen in or near Bittersweet, probably eating berries. They are sloppy eaters. A man ran past me, halted, reversed his direction and stopped to tell me a rescued dog story. K*** had been so impressed with a story from me, from two months ago, about rescue dogs, that he got one, Emma, who has not yet been to Fresh Pond Reservation. The story of Jasper, who got here via PetFinder.com, led to Emma.

Today’s Weather. Scroll down to see last month’s Weather Calendar.

Link of the day: Galloping Glaciers “An ice cap in the high Arctic has lost what British scientists say is a significant amount of ice in an unusually short time. It has thinned by more than 50 metres since 2012 – about one sixth of its original thickness – and the ice flow is now 25 times faster, accelerating to speeds of several kilometres per year.”

Book of the day: Glaciers and Glaciation “Glaciers and Glaciation is the classic textbook for all students of glaciation. Stimulating and accessible, it has established a reputation as a comprehensive and essential resource. In this new edition, the text, references and illustrations have been thoroughly updated to give today’s reader an up-to-the minute overview of the nature, origin and behaviour of glaciers and the geological and geomorphological evidence for their past history on earth.”

Video of the day:


February 18, 2015 – another snowstorm (ok, barely)

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: Another snowstorm, barely, today. Temperatures almost reached the freezing point. Three unidentifiable ducks in the Weir Meadow open water. To keep from falling on the snow and ice here we all need to learn how to Walk Like a Penguin. And speaking of the Iditarod, perhaps this year it could be held here in Cambridge, one-time home of Susan Butcher. A dog walker tells me a story about January 25, 2015, when there were four Bald Eagles on the reservoir. He saw a bird (Common Loon) take off from the water, with one Bald Eagle chasing it. Moments later a second Bald Eagle swooped in from another direction and caught the bird. The Bald Eagles spent the rest of the day eating it and fighting over it.

Today’s Weather. Scroll down to see last month’s Weather Calendar.

Link of the day: Dog Days of Winter? “For just the second time in 43 years, the start of the sled dog showdown is moved north, to Fairbanks.”

Book of the day: All About Penguins

Film of the day: Iditarod… a far distant place by Alice Bouvrie, a local documentary filmmaker.

Video of the day:


February 17, 2015 – another snowstorm (a small one, and little wind)

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: Shopping day, so Jasper stays home with a marrow bone. More signs of birds eating bittersweet next to the path. There was a single male Lesser Scaup in the remaining open water near the Weir Meadow.

Today’s Weather. Scroll down to see last month’s Weather Calendar.

Link of the day: Bittersweet Vine | Is the Invasive and Beautiful Plant Friend or Foe? “New Englanders know that the autumn blooming bittersweet vine is a catch 22. Loved for its beauty and versatility, yet loathed for its invasive and destructive ways. Bittersweet is an ornamental climbing vine that is native to Eastern Asia. It was brought over to the United States in the 1860’s and has been running rampant ever since. Hardy, fast growing and visually interesting, the vines of the bittersweet plant mirror the warm colors of autumn upon reaching maturation. Reddish-brown creeping stems and leaves support clusters of tiny yellow flowers and orange berries that usually bloom just in time for autumn floral arrangements in the Northeastern part of the United States.”

Book of the day: Feeding Wild Birds “Current scientific research and annual volunteer wild bird counts document a steady decline in our collective wild bird populations world-wide. This non-fiction handbook helps compassionate family’s who care bring wild birds back for future generations of our grandchildren. Their future world should be as Great; as we found it and enjoyed it.”

Video of the day:


February 16, 2016 – a second day of real winter

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: This was an exhausting day. Mainly because yesterday’s exhausting day is not yet recovered from. No birds today, although there were signs of birds feeding on Bittersweet berries.

Today’s Weather

Link of the day: Dog Days of Winter? “A lack of snow in the Alaska community where the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race traditionally begins has forced organizers to move the starting line about 300 miles (480 kilometers) north, to Fairbanks, for the second time in the event’s 43-year history.” Why oh why can’t we have Alaska weather here in Cambridge?

Book of the day: Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival “From flying squirrels to grizzly bears, and from torpid turtles to insects with antifreeze, the animal kingdom relies on some staggering evolutionary innovations to survive winter. Unlike their human counterparts, who must alter the environment to accommodate physical limitations, animals are adaptable to an amazing range of conditions.

Examining everything from food sources in the extremely barren winter land-scape to the chemical composition that allows certain creatures to survive, Heinrich’s Winter World awakens the largely undiscovered mysteries by which nature sustains herself through winter’s harsh, cruel exigencies.”

Video of the day:


February 15, 2015 – blizzard

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: Blizzards, for me, will always be measured against what they were in and near Cody, Wyoming, where my growing up years occurred, some of them on a farm near Burlington, Wyoming, about 40+ miles from Cody. Temperatures of -40 degrees were not unheard of. Don’t get me started on the wind… Today was much colder than yesterday. The Sun was shining bright and was more than a match for the 25+ mph winds. The camera, black, performed better than yesterday, because of heating from the bright sunlight. Even the black pants over my bluejeans kept me warmer than yesterday. The wind was so ferocious at some moments that the camera could not focus. That’s why things appeared peaceful one moment then like a snowstorm from the Arctic. There were two Herring Gulls at the Weir Meadow open water. A single Robin was seen flying near the alternate water fountain.

Today’s Weather Wind speed average 21 mph, with gusts of 50+ mph.

Link of the day: Frozen Lakes, Oceans And Ponds, That Look Like Art

Book of the day: Blizzard!: The Storm That Changed America “Snow began falling over New York City on March 12, 1888. All around town, people struggled along slippery streets and sidewalks — some seeking the warmth of their homes, some to get to work or to care for the less fortunate, and some to experience what they assumed would be the last little snowfall of one of the warmest winters on record. What no one realized was that in a very few hours, the wind and snow would bury the city in nearly 21 inches of snow and bring it to a ferocious standstill.”

Video of the day:


February 14, 2015 – another snowstorm

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: Yet another snowstorm here in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the southern Alaska of New England. The dead Deer Mouse is still visible near Post0240. Jasper’s, or any dog’s, sense of smell must be something like a horizontal waterfall of scents constantly crashing into their nose.

Today’s Weather

Link of the day: DEER MICE (Peromyscus maniculatus)

Book/calendar/poster/puzzle of the day: Photo Jigsaw Puzzle of Deer Mouse

Video of the day:


February 13, 2015 – really cold returns

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: Two nearby neighbors of the reservation describe owls calling in their backyards and at least one backyard sighting. Yesterday’s mouse didn’t make it. The cold and snow will keep the corpse fresh for some hungry coyote, mink, fox, or extra hungry raptor that only eats food they kill. Or it will wait there for the snow to melt and the temperatures to rise where insects arrive. Meanwhile, back at tiny town, the mouse metropolis, thousands of comrades are continuing their frantic reproduction rate to continue to supply food for the above mentioned critters. Thank you mouse, for your service to life.

Today’s Weather

Link of the day: Deer Mouse Habitat in North America

Book of the day: Deer Mouse at Old Farm Road

Video of the day:


February 12, 2015 – Happy Darwin Day

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: A mouse is scampering along the path near Post0240. Jasper is chasing it back and forth. There are snow bank on either side of the path. It stays along the side with what must look like a shear snow cliff. A mouse family was likely tunneling in the snowbank then, today, a snowplow came along and removed part of it. This mouse likely fell out one of those tunnels and ended up on the path. Mice build little cities under the snow.

Today’s Weather

Link of the day: Happy Darwin Day

Book of the day: The Voyage of the Beagle This was the most memorable book from my high school reading days.

Video of the day:


February 11, 2015 – odd ducks/cormorants this time of year

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: Two Great Horned Owls calling opposite Post0180, far side of the golf course and on the edge of the houses on Blanchard Road. Two weeks earlier two of them flew from the north, over an edge of the reservoir, turned right not far from Post0180 and disappeared as they headed towards what looked a landing on the golf course. They continue to be heard regularly in the Eastern Pine Woods near the Orlando bench.

Today’s Weather

Link of the day: Great Backyard Bird Count, February 13-16, 2015

Book of the day: Backyard Birds of Winter “Here is the perfect introduction to wintertime bird-watching for beginners. Featuring over forty commonly seen birds of North America, this beautiful handbook includes a full-color life-size portrait of each bird, plus descriptions of physical features, food preferences, and ranges.”

Video of the day:


February 10, 2015 – a slightly warmer day

Today’s PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Notes for today: A slightly warmer day as evidenced by the large number of kids and parents sledding at Kingsley Park. Great Horned Owl calling in the Eastern Pine Woods around 3:30pm.

Today’s Weather

Link of the day:

Book of the day: Snowflake Bentley

“Of all the forms of water the tiny six-pointed crystals of ice called snow are incomparably the most beautiful and varied.” — Wilson Bentley (1865-1931)

From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley’s enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist’s vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature. Snowflake Bentley won the 1999 Caldecott Medal.

Video of the day: The first snowflake ever photographed was taken in Jericho, Vermont, January 15, 1885, by Wilson Bentley.


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