Please consider the images to be copyrighted and ask permission to use them in any way. Thank you. DEClapp
I feel a bit apologetic for doing birds birds and more birds. But that pandemic has me/us pretty limited in travel opportunities and so it is local birding and more local birding. I have to finish the Falkland Island blogs and do a few from the Galapagos Islands and Namibia but it is easy to do the local and current birds of the northeastern USA. They are what I see day in and day out. So this post will show some creatures that are not limited by a virus and can travel the globe on their own wing-power. Some are just the usual sort of winter wanderer, a vagrant perhaps but no real surprise, others are migrants that are expected winter visitors, and a couple are surprises.
As I look at these birds you should keep in mind that there are other natural events and organisms in the area. I see Red and Gray Squirrels and until this last cold spell, the occasional Eastern Chipmunk. Yesterday, despite the cold weather, I found several tunnels of Star-nosed Moles. In the unfrozen wetlands, getting to be fewer and fewer, there are still Muskrats and the occasional Otter family. White-tailed Deer are not easily seen at this time of year but they are out there and the widespread browsed shrubbery attests to that. Today I saw a Fisher atop the Pitch Pine trees and it was being verbally abused by a congregation of American Crows (AMCR). Also we see Gray Seals about every day and Harbor Seals in the winter when the young ones visit from the Canadian waters to the north.
One of the unlikely creatures that really show at this time of year are the sea turtles; specifically the Kemp’s Ridley turtle. These are warm water creatures and they swim further and further north in the Gulf Stream each summer as our changing climate warms the ocean waters. This northward movement, and our northeasterly winds, will push the animals toward the continent, and as they swim south they swim into the open arm of Cape Cod. Most of the turtles that get stuck inside Cape Cod are younger animals and they have no sense that they have to swim north again and then east and around the sandy arm. They simply hit the beach. If the water were warm still they might swim out through perseverance, but this beaching syndrome only happens when the cold air from the north chills the ocean water and stuns the turtles. Many die. Many are found by beach walking volunteers and are rehabilitated and eventually flown south to be released. Though most are Kemp’s Ridleys there was a 350 pound Leatherback beached this year as well. So far, mid-December, there have been about 450 beached turtles found.
So, it is getting to be winter here; it is cold and we are expecting more than a foot of snow: that’s 30 cm or 300 mm for those of you using the metric system. Hopefully, I will be able to shovel snow and do another blog page over the next few days.
By the way, the header-image is a Red-tailed Hawk, one of our common birds of prey. It has nothing to do with unusual winter visitors, I just thought is was a nice image to include