We’re not the only ones coming out of Hibernation!

Northampton Cafe’s were filled yesterday, pedestrians were all over the city, smiling, talking, sitting on steps soaking up the warmth of the sun while enjoying a croissant from their favorite bakery .  There was someone else who came out of hibernation yesterday as well!

Yep, the black bears are back!

Its been a pretty tough winter.  Long stretches of temps below zero at nights and getting to, maybe 10 degrees during the day and lots, I mean lots of snow!  Now its March 12th and finally we actually had a day over 50 degrees (glorious) and a night time low of only 39 degrees.  We still have at least a foot and a half of snow on the ground but I picked up a new track in my backyard…click on the picture to enlarge it.

Its time to take down our birdfeeders before they habituate to our backyards and human food!

Its time to take down our birdfeeders before they habituate to our backyards and human food!

Here's a great pic of its huge toes!

Here’s a great pic of its huge toes! And look at that paw pad, its over 4 inches wide!

My fingers don't even fill up the space...

My fingers don’t even fill up the space…They actually have 5 toes like us but their little toe is on the inside where our big toe is.

1 bear track w claws measure

My finger nails are no comparison to this baby!

My finger nails are no comparison to this baby!

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Finally, The Tracking Hike!

Here's a happy group of hikers, glad to be out in nature, breathing fresh air and tracking wild animals!

Here’s a happy group of hikers, glad to be out in nature, breathing fresh air and tracking wild animals!

Well after three postponements due to harsh weather, we were able to run the Tracking Hike for Kestrel Land Trust.  We hiked into the Mineral Hills Conservation Area in Northampton. Kestrel has been an important partner in expanding this really great area.  It has forests, wetlands, a quarry, and lots of great hiking paths.  If you’re interested, there is a group that manages the property called Friends of the Mineral Hills, check them out on Facebook!  Here’s a video I made of the hike:

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Porkies, Porkies, Everywhere!

Now that's a beautiful porky!

Now that’s a beautiful porky!

Hey Folks,  Well we had to postpone the tracking hike for another week so my friend Mike and I went up into the Mineral Hills to retrieve the remote wildlife cameras.  They got some great pics of the porcupines!  Take a look:

Remember to click on the image to enlarge:

Look at that, 2 degrees!

Look at that, 2 degrees!

Going down...negative 12 degrees!   And look at the claws on this baby! That's how they get up the trees so easy.

Going down…negative 12 degrees! And look at the claws on this baby! That’s how they get up the trees so easy.

Hemlock "nip twigs" from porkies eating just the tips of the branches.

Hemlock “nip twigs” from porkies eating just the tips of the branches.

This is what the nip twig looks like up close.  You can see where the porky cut it at an angle using its teeth.  You can also see the very ends of the needles are cut too.  They eat only the very fresh growth at the ends.

This is what the nip twig looks like up close. You can see where the porky cut it at an angle using its teeth. You can also see the very ends of the needles are cut too. They eat only the very fresh growth at the ends.

And what happens to the succulent hemlock needle, you may ask?  Here is the porkies den entrance.  It has loads of cashew shaped and sized scat of compressed wood shavings.  The pine/turpentine smell is very heavy.  And cool, lots of quills laying around too.

And what happens to the succulent hemlock needle, you may ask? Here is the porkies den entrance. It has loads of cashew shaped and sized scat of compressed wood shavings. The pine/turpentine smell is very heavy. And cool, lots of quills laying around too.

Very cute, but don't try to pet the porky!

Very cute, but don’t try to pet the porky!

 

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Why hike?

cardinal female in birchesI know, its kinda cheating to take pictures of birds at my birdfeeder.  But I’ve been out hiking a bit, even in very cold weather, looking to see what wildlife and birds I might see…nuthin!  I’m telling you, not even a chickadee!  I get home and take a very warm shower to try and fend off frostbite, have some hot tea and watch the fun at my birdfeeder (click on pic to enlarge):

Now that's one very handsome white-throated sparrow!

Now that’s one very handsome white-throated sparrow!

sparrow white breasted

A carolina wren, my mom calls them Jenny Wren...

A carolina wren, my mom calls them Jenny Wren…

During breeding season, male cardinals are very territorial but when the snow hits, they can share a feeder.

During breeding season, male cardinals are very territorial but when the snow hits, they can share a feeder.

And of course pairs of purple finches coloring the backyard.

And of course pairs of purple finches coloring the backyard.

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Tracking Insects….Tracking What?!

A new beetle discovered by Charley on this Arbutus Leaf!

A new beetle discovered by Charley on this Arbutus Leaf!

I had the pleasure of hiking with Charley Eisman last weekend on a Kestrel Land Trust sponsored event.  He showed the group lots of things that we’d seen on our travels but never knew what they were.  Take a look:

Thanks to Peggy Hepler for inviting us onto her land, and for putting a conservation restriction on 40 acres of incredible forest in the Pelham Hills!

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