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Ranger Stuff 4/15/13

On 04/15/2013 at 01:29 PM by Ranger1

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It's been a busy week of wildlife watching for this little ranger, some at work, some at home.

All our osprey appear to have arrived safely from where-ever it is that they go in the winter. We think we have four active nesting pairs at the moment, but I haven't been able to get out on all the trails yet to check. I did find the battery charger for my Canon DSLR camera and charged the batteries. Now I just need to take a class to learn how to effectively use the damn thing! Anyway, I got a decent photo of the female of the Salt Marsh pair sitting on the nest.


I'm starting to see more ruffed grouse, and I have heard the males drumming at work. Both times I've seen the grouse, I've had to stop the car for them. They are very tasty birds, and are very lucky that I can resist tempatation.

ruffed grouse

I've also seen a lot of Canada geese, they like to hang out in the field next door:

canada geese

Other birds that I've been seeing but haven't been able to get pictures of are the great blue heron that I've seen in the frog pond down the street several times, but never when I have my camera, and the ravens nesing behind park HQ. I can hear them, and I occasionally see one fly overhead, but not clearly enough to get a photo that would be anything but a small black speck. Kinda like my dad's photos of the eagles he saw in Alaska, now that I think of it, lol.

The spring peepers are still out in force. I never see the little guys, but they sure are loud.

I've been seeing a lot of these guys, too. They like to hang out under damp leaves, rocks, and rotting wood. I rescued a bunch when I was clearing out the rock gardens at work. This is a northern red-back salamander.


The last thing I have for you is this picture:


These are predator beetles that we hope will act as biological controls for the infestation of invasive insects called hemlock woolly adelgids that are killing off our hemlock trees in the park. The beetles only attack three species of adelgids, all invasive. We're hoping that this will slow down the spread and maybe contain them. In the meantime, we educate people about staying on the trails so as not to spread them further.

Until next time, happy gaming!



Super Step Contributing Writer

04/15/2013 at 02:23 PM

Well, I think your point-and-click is serving you well, but I can help if you have questions about DSLR cameras, especially if it's like the DSLR cameras we used, which were Canon Rebels.

Never had grouse, but might try it if you think it's tasty. And I think if I had to hear those peepers all day ... well, I'd rather not say in a public forum, but needless to say, the noise is a bit irritating. lol


04/15/2013 at 02:46 PM

I'm a very visual learner, Joe, so I'm not sure how much you could help me, but thanks for the offer! As for the peepers, we love them, loud as they may be. It means that f***ing winter is finally over!

Super Step Contributing Writer

04/15/2013 at 02:50 PM

LOL. Well, I guess if I had to go through long winters, I'd welcome it too, but living in a state where summer and spring are the only not-made-up seasons, and winter and fall just means "it's cold, there might be a snow day at some point," I'm not as welcoming.


04/15/2013 at 02:33 PM

I'd probably go insane if I had to listen to those peepers all day lol. Hopefully those beatles will help with you guy's pest problems. It's weird to think that an insect can cause so much damage.


04/15/2013 at 02:48 PM

The adelgids are just the tip of the iceberg up here. We've banned all out-of-state firewood in hopes to try and keep emerald ash borers out, but they've been found an hour or so from the Maine border in New Hampshire. The other really nasty one is the Asian long-horned beetle. One of our biggest industries in Maine is forest products (otherwise known as trees), and these bugs can kill entire forests in a short time.

Chris Yarger Community Manager

04/15/2013 at 02:41 PM

Oh wow.. Trying to contain beetles sounds like it could be a MAJOR hassle. Especially with people who happen to wander off-trail. Regardless, good luck with that!

We've been having a lot of wild-life returning to our area as well. It's nice to be able to look out and see animals again and to hear birds chirping!


04/15/2013 at 02:50 PM

I don't thenk the adelgids are beetles, but I don't know, because they're so small I can't see them. The predator beetles we just released are only about the size of a pinhead, and they're large compared to the adelgids. OK, I just looked up pics of the adelgids, and they look kinda like lice. Eeewww!

Chris Yarger Community Manager

04/15/2013 at 02:52 PM

My bad, I mis-read that in the last paragraph lol


04/15/2013 at 03:25 PM

Hope the beetles can help with the hemlock tree situation. It's amazing how a being that's so tiny can heal or destroy so much!


04/15/2013 at 07:49 PM

According to Colleen, the entomologist who released the beetles, it may take ten years to see a difference.


04/17/2013 at 12:38 AM

I know for us 10 years is awhile. But for a forest? That's a nano second more or less. Still, I hope harmony is restored to the eco system before it's too late.

Cary Woodham

04/15/2013 at 07:02 PM

Are you ever going to post a picture of you in the bug costume?  I think you mentioned that one time.


04/15/2013 at 07:47 PM

It didn't come out very well, but because you asked nicely:


The helmet has two long pieces of plastic tbing coming off it, supposed to be antennae, and the shirt had white spots on the back. But like I said, it didn't come out very well.


04/15/2013 at 07:03 PM

Awesome photos and thanks for the peeper video. I was wondering what they sounded like. I liked the salamander pic the best. Always found them interesting.


04/15/2013 at 07:52 PM

Peepers are such a rite of spring around here, sometimes I forget that there are people who don't know what they sound like. As for the salamander, I love those little guys! Northern red-backs lay eggs in moist areas, like under leaves and in rotting trees on the ground. A lot of other salamanders need vernal pools, like frogs and toads do, to mate and lay eggs.


04/16/2013 at 11:17 AM

I really like the picture of the female Osprey you got. They have a pretty nice nest going there it seems. I've always wondered how they put their nests together. Do they go collect downed branches and sticks from ground level and fly them up to the nest area? Do they kind of hover over the area and drop things hoping they'll stick or do they cling to the tree and gently place things around trying to make those nice layered apparently somewhat interlocking structures?

Some of the branches and sticks seem pretty big too like they could be extremely difficult to hold and get airborne. Maybe some of those are part of the tree, but how big of pieces can they pick up, or how big of pieces do Osprey generally like to use? Nest building seems like a pretty neat thing to learn about of which I know practically nothing about at the moment. Birds nest building as well as beaver dam building are all pretty interesting to me and I like to see how they do it.


04/20/2013 at 08:09 PM

Those sticks all come from trees. The male will fly to a dead limb or stick and grab hold with his talons and then just take off. It's a pretty awesome thing to watch. He then flies back to the nest site and places it on the nest. When the female comes back, she may rearrange some of the sticks if she doesn't like where the male put them. Sometimes all they do is add another layer to the nest if it survived the winter, which is what the pair by the salt marsh did (the osprey in the pic is from that pair). Sometimes the nest gets blown down by a winter storm and they have to do a complete rebuild, which is what the pair on the island (our showcase pair) had to do this year. The male arrived back on March 31st, and had the thing rebuilt within ten to fourteen days. He's very industrious.

Chris Iozzi Staff Alumnus

04/16/2013 at 01:12 PM

I like picking up a cold slow salamander and waking them up in my warm palm, they try to nestle in between my fingers to warm up. But then I feel bad putting them back in the cold wet leaves.


04/20/2013 at 08:11 PM

Just be sure your hands are damp when you do that, the natural acids on our skin can burn theirs. I like to breathe on them, does the same thing, just not as well.


04/17/2013 at 12:36 AM

You need lessons? not from where I'm standing Tami, that Osprey shot is fantastic, it must be breath taking to actually see it in person! I used to love watching the Grey Herons near my parents home, we are fortunate to have quite a few in the area. Theres also a strong Tawny and Barn Owl prescence there too with Sparrow Hawk and even Red Kites on the rise. Just writing about it is starting to make me miss home!


04/20/2013 at 08:18 PM

I find the dslr to be kind of intimidating, with all its fancy bells and whistles. I think I got lucky with that photo. As for seeing them in person, yeah, never gets old. I "had" to do an osprey watch for the public nature program today Cool. An hour spent with a 60x spotting scope set up on the nest (but only on 40x, 60 is too much of a good thing) talking to people about these amazing birds. Next weekend is our annual family-friendly bird-watching festival, where I will be forced to a) do an all-day osprey watch, b) shut down the osprey watch and watch a live bird presentation about owls (and a raven) by WInd Over Wings, and c) possibly get sent to another park to go on a vernal pool workshop. Oh, the horror I must endure! There will be pictures, I promise.


04/17/2013 at 01:39 AM

Salamanders! Used to find the cute critters under rotting logs in the forest in the back of my family house growing up. Slimy little guys but damn adorable. I would always put them back where I found them; I was always (and still am) very curious about the wildlife, great and small in Massachusetts

Speaking of which, you can also hear the peepers from the forest in the back of the condo complex where I live now, around about sundown. Love the sound also, as it is a herald of spring. . 


04/20/2013 at 08:19 PM

Salamanders like the one in the pic, or did you have spotted or blue-spotteds?


04/20/2013 at 11:23 PM

Just the red and black ones, from what I remember. Would have been really cool to see spotted ones! Maybe those are not native to this particular area.


04/21/2013 at 07:40 AM

Should have 'em in MA, they're just more sneaky than the redbacks.


04/20/2013 at 02:13 PM

I wish there was a good solution for the winter moths that have been a plague down here for the last several years.  Not as icky as gypsy moths, but still grosse and damaging.  (At least the gypsy moths cycle, the winter moths just laugh.)  

We used to have tons of salamanders in this neighborhood when I was a kid, but I haven't seen one in years.  (Of course, I haven't exactly gone looking for em.)  We used to try to race them.... yeah, that didn't work to well.

Bug helmet is amazing.


04/20/2013 at 08:22 PM

We're starting to get winter moths up here, too. Our entomology folks are being kept pretty busy. At least they don't give me a rash like the brown-tail moth caterpillars.

I wanted to keep the bug helmet.

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