When I first moved to west of Mount Jackson in early July to share a house with a friend, a water feature on the deck had a broken pump and was filled with tadpoles. The plastic “frog pond,” as we refer to it, looks like a livestock trough and had less than a foot of water in it when we arrived, along with one potted aquatic plant. Such shallow pools are desirable breeding habitat for many amphibian species.
While I saw few animals other than birds in early spring on Briar Ridge, the diversity of critters grew as summer approached. On the reptile front, I had the pleasure of watching a small eastern ratsnake (about 3.5 feet long) shed its skin on the cabin’s deck, weaving against the iron balusters in the fence surrounding the deck to scrape off the old skin.
While I’m always curious about the behavior of animals, my monitoring of birds breeding this spring has been sporadic for several reasons, leaving me with more questions than answers.
News about the effect of climate on trees’ mast-production booms, bison revealing petroglyphs, and a promising mRNA vaccine for Lyme disease, in this week’s Wild Ideas column.
Some of Virginia’s most iconic, sexiest wildlife have been foraging around Pam Owen’s temporary digs high on a ridge south of Sperryville, in this week’s Wild Ideas column.
I usually try to do my best in my writing to bust myths about nature, which often stem from anecdotal information that’s not accurate to begin with and is then passed on to others, sometimes for generations.
Those of us who feed birds tend to do it for two reasons: to enjoy observing and learning about birds, and to help them survive. But birds that congregate at feeders are also running the risk of sharing diseases and parasites; finches, for example, can spread a form of conjunctivitis. This spring, when common backyard birds started dying in several mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia, the issue of feeding wild birds once again came into focus.
Even the smallest backyard naturalizing project can boost biodiversity and offer better opportunities to enjoy nature, as I was reminded recently in Gid Brown Hollow.
After living in the bizarro times of Covid-19 for more than a year and tiring of the icy weather at the end of winter, I was looking forward to the warmth and increased opportunities to view nature that spring usually brings. But this spring, cold, dry weather has presented challenges to wild species and we winter-weary humans.
Find out how an unusually large number of bluebird eggs ended up in one nest in Amissville this spring, in this week’s Wild Ideas column.
After overwintering eastern black swallowtail caterpillars as chrysalises, Pam Owen eagerly awaited their transformation into adult butterflies this spring, in this week’s Wild Ideas column.
With the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) looming over us, now is an especially good time to step outside and enjoy the natural world and the health benefits it offers.
Rappahannock couple John Beardsley and Steph Ridder help conserve grassland birds on their farm and through serving on the steering committee of Virginia Working Landscapes, in this week’s Wild Ideas column.
Scientists are finding that wild birds, even common “backyard” species, are disappearing at alarming numbers, in this week’s Wild Ideas.
In talking with me a while back about how Rappahannock Nature Camp evolved, Lyt Wood, its founder and director, suggested some books for broadening our understanding about nature. Most of these have just been added to the Conservation Collection at the Rappahannock County Library.
I’m lucky to have landlords who alert me to the presence of interesting wildlife where I live, such as a large, mostly brown caterpillar my landlady found down by one of the lower ponds early in June. I thought it was probably the larva of a eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly, judging by th…
This spring, a tiny, vibrantly colored spider that spins a round web seems to be everywhere in my yard and on the exterior of my house.
While I’m still trying to keep up with spring as it unfolds, notices of several events featuring pollinators and other “bugs” have been landing in my email inbox:
This time of year, sorting out the many bird species that are vocalizing can be overwhelming. Not having ambitions of ever being a dedicated birder, I’ve worked my way all the way up to, at best, average at identifying local birds by sight. This year, I’m trying to get a better handle on bir…
Up around my house on Oventop Mountain, the spring wildflower show started last week (Mar. 24), when five bloodroot buds popped up along a trail dubbed the Spring Road, a few starting to bloom.
Lyt Wood and I have been sending messages about nature sightings back and forth for years. Recently, we got into discussing the evolution of Rappahannock Nature Camp, a summer day camp Lyt founded in 1986 and continues to serve as the director.