FIELD NOTES – July 2011

By Jack McShane

Some weird things happen in the natural world, one being an antlered doe that produced a fawn last year. When I observed her for the first time late last summer, I thought she was a spike horn buck with 2 to 3 inch antlers. There was a fawn nearby and I was looking around for the doe which should have been in close proximity, when it moved to what I thought was the spike buck and began to suckle. I was awestruck and got my binoculars out to confirm what I was seeing, and sure enough that antlered deer was actually a nursing doe. As the year progressed I saw the two of them one more time. This spring in the same vicinity I spotted what I thought was a buck with the usual emerging black knubs that would eventually grow into antlers. Then I took note of a very heavy and extended belly, a pretty sure sign of a pregnant doe. I will be vigilant when in this area in hopes of continued sightings of this unusual doe and what offspring she might produce this year. I will keep you posted.

A few days ago I saw an unusual bird in my driveway that I was unable to identify; I quickly retrieved my camera and was able to get a moving shot as it flew off. A study of the blurry picture of this flying bird and my bird book determined a cuckoo, black-billed or yellow-billed unknown. When Nancy informed me a few days later that there was a dead bird on the porch, an obvious window impact casualty, I was saddened to see a yellow-billed cuckoo, a bird rarely seen, at least by me. If Mother Nature would have used her head it would have been one of the invasive and numerous starlings. Oh well, she knows best I guess.

Barry Gragg, a friend living up on Holiday Brook Road, sent me a video taken with one of his trail cams of a mama bear and two very small cubs. It was a great shot with Mama showing great caution, constantly checking the air with her very powerful nose as the two cubs ambled along, apparently enjoying what could have been one of their first adventures out of the den. Next trip into Kingston I will be stopping at Gander Mountain Sports to check into the trail cam inventory.

All my talk about getting kids into the natural world was actually attempted one past Saturday as a friend and I put together a “Take a Kid Fishing Day” sponsored by the Catskill Mountain Club. It was to take place at my small pond which is loaded with bass and sunfish. Word was out; signs were out; minnows and worms at the ready, fishing rods for all participants, sodas and treats at the ready and not a kid showed. Could it be that it rained all day? Oh well, maybe we will try another day.

Now that a mountain lion has been road-killed near Greenwich, Connecticut, I expect sightings to proliferate as they have already in the Connecticut/Westchester area. The cat was a six year old male suspected of being an illegal escaped pet. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection is doing a major investigation at this time including DNA testing to determine if it is of Western States, Florida or South American origin where most black market mountain lion pets hail from. It has been reported in the New York Times and I have already received many, “I told you so,” emails. I do plan to follow the investigation and further reports.

Olivia Judson of the New York Times – “Nature is considerably more creative and inventive than humankind. Without nature there isn’t any humankind. Without humankind nature is fine”.

P.S.  I have finally purchased a trail cam and hope to have some interesting shots in the future, hopefully not of a mountain lion.~

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