26 04 2009

After a long day of canoeing the Oak Orchard Creek in Alabama, NY we got back to Beaver Meadow to find out we missed a phone call on an injured owl.  The message said a grey and white large owl.  My initial thought was a barred owl.  So I called the gentleman about this owl and heard an amazing story about how he found this owl in his brand new burn barrel.  When he tried to let it out it tried to fly but ended up just flapping around a bit and then went back into the burn barrel which was a 50 gallon steel drum.

I listened intently with memories of the hundreds of rescues I had been on where the caller claimed to have some exotic species, only to find out that the animal needing rescue was something more common.  I always hated the dissapointed look on the rescuers face when I told them what they really had.  So as I listened to the gentleman on the other end of the line tell me his story of this owl and how it came to be in his burn barrel, he finally told me his identification.  “It apears to be one of those Canadian Snow Owls”.

OK… Now first of all it is a 75 degree day in late April.  All the Snowy owls have already flown to the northern tundra in search of lemmings.  I thanked the gentleman and told him I would be there in 10 minutes.  I jumped in the car and headed over to rescue the Snowy Owl.  Of course I was certain it was a barred owl.

As we pulled into the driveway the kindly gentleman was there to greet us and led us right over to his burn barrel.  As I peered in I saw…

Snowy Owl

Just goes to show that sometimes you just have to believe that nature can throw you a few surprises now and then.


No Child Left Inside!

14 04 2009

I remember when I was young; I lived behind a town park where my friend and I spent most of our time. It seemed like the only time we were indoors is when our parents called us in out of the rain. No matter the weather, we were outside exploring nature or just having fun in the natural world. Our imaginations were endless as we used the outdoors as our playground.

As I look around at our youth today, I see a generation moving away from nature and suffering from this lack of connection. Not only suffering a lack of imagination and exploration, but also in their health. Studies have shown that a child who spends time outdoors is less likely to have Attention Deficit Disorder, child obesity and other illness. Don’t you feel better after a day outside?

So how do we turn around this trend of our youth staring at the television and video games instead of breathing some fresh air? It starts with us. Take your child or grandchild outdoors. Introduce them to the fascinating world of nature. Encourage our youth to spend their time outside in the sunlight. Invite a child to join you for a hike or some bird watching. Take a child camping or for a picnic. Don’t just send them outdoors. Take them outdoors.

Itchin’ for Spring

6 04 2009

I’m pretty certain that this is not the longest winter we have ever experienced in Western New York, but for some reason it seems like it is. Maybe it’s the age thing again. As I get older I like the summers better. Maybe it was a more extreme winter weather wise. Whatever the case, I am ready for spring to pop up around here.

It may have been the hike in the woods last week when the weather was summer like and I saw the leeks poking through the leaf litter along with a few other spring ephemerals that pushed my spring fever to the boiling point.

Last week was spent cleaning the gardens out, raking the stones from the edge of the driveway, putting the snow shovels away, taking down the snowfence, and removing the plow from the truck.

And here we are with a a Saturday of blizard like weather just a few days past and another snowstorm headed our way. That will teach me to try to figure out WNY weather.

As one friend said to me, this just adds more water to the streams for kayaking. The cup is half full I guess.

Forest Haiku

4 03 2009

As I enter school 84 I look forward to my lesson in nature.  Not the lesson that I will be teaching as much as the lesson I will be learning from young Paul.  You see, Paul is the one that taught me that a snake feels like a basketball.  He taught me the subtle differences in the sounds of many common songbirds.  Paul is completely blind.  He experiences nature through his soul, rather than his sight.  He teaches me to experience my surroundings in the same way.  I believe that Paul sees nature more completely than many of us.

The splendor of nature is far beyond the visual impact that we first experience when we enter its realm.  Nature is filled with a beauty that stretches beyond what we capture in our photographs or embed in our memories.  Nature is art.  Like a poem, it can be experienced at many levels dependant on how deeply you delve into it.  If you merely wander through it casually, it can be a pleasant occurrence, but a deeper experience is obtained when the poem touches your spirit and becomes a part of you.

To fully experience the poetry in nature we need to stop and take in the totality of our surroundings.  We can often experience more with our eyes closed.  This allows us to use all our senses to pull in the parts of nature that we often overlook.  With our vision impaired we can hear, smell and feel the spirit of nature.  We can experience our surroundings to a more complete level.  It becomes a part of us.

With your next encounter with nature, seek out the poetry of your surroundings.  Listen to the birds. Touch the wind.  Smell the bouquet of your surroundings.  Let nature create the experience instead of you seeking it out.

A Pleasant Surprise

30 01 2009

I normally hate surprises.  I like to know what’s coming ahead of time so that I am prepared for it.  Nature however will sometimes offer me surprises that I don’t mind, like the one I was privileged to witness this morning below my bird feeders.

As I awoke this morning and went about my daily routine to prepare for the day ahead, I took a peek out at the feeders on this chilly wintery day to see what visitors were brave enough to come out of their warm roosts to grab a morning snack.  To my delight and surprise I was greeted by a dozen or more snow buntings.  This was the first time that these winter guests have honored our feeders since we moved into our house some nine years ago.

Snow Bunting

What a great surprise this was!


Nature Giggles

16 01 2009

How do you break up the boredom of a mundane day at the office?  Watch a little red squirrel gather food in the winter.  While stranded in the office today, catching up on paperwork and computer duties, wishing I could be outside on a pair of snowshoes, I glanced out the window to watch the birds gather at the feeders.  I suddenly noticed a small red head poke up out of the foot deep snow next to the abandoned squirrel feeder.  The squirrel feeder hasn’t seen much action as it awaits the spring for repairs.  On this cold winter day however it became an active source of entertainment as that furry little rodent went flying up the pole and sat atop it nibbling on some fallen seed.

squirrel2My new source of entertainment only sat on top of  the feeder for a short while and then headed back down to a hidden network of tunnels below.  Within a minute it would reappear and the cycle continued.  I had to laugh as this busy little soul kept going up and down that pole.  Why it didn’t stay below the safety of the snow to eat it’s feast, I wasn’t certain, but it really didn’t matter to me for I was enjoying the amusement the little red squirrel was offering me.

This little red squirrels routine continued for more than an hour, before I packed up and headed home.  He was still continuing the routine as I left my office.  I was certian it would continue long after I pulled out of the parking lot.   I look forward to watching for my new entertainer on future mundane office days.

First Snow

21 11 2008



The first snowfall of the season arrived the other day with mixed emotions.  The “adult” in me was not happy in the least since my plow truck was still in the shop and I spent a good portion of my morning shoveling the foot deep snow out of my driveway.  The bright orange snow fence is an eyesore in our yard, but a necessity to keep the drifts out of our driveway.  The furnace is constantly on as the price of propane goes higher. The snow is covering our solar panels so that we can’t generate our own electricity.

Luckily for me the kid inside is always anxious to emerge and even as I was shoveling the driveway I managed to get some play time in.  Not that I had much of a choice since our two dogs love the snow and insisted that I show them more attention than that darned shovel.

Deep inside I really do enjoy winter in Western New York.  I always look forward to the snowshoe adventures we go on.  I can’t wait to strap on the cross country skis and head out through the beautiful countryside.  I enjoy watching the birds as they frequent our feeders more often.  These things I look forward to on these cold winter days.


As I awoke that first morning of snow and looked outside, the naturalist in me was awed by the beauty that nature offers even in the harshest time of the year.  The trees were blanketed in a dusting of the frozen crystals that had fallen the night before.  The pond was covered with a thin layer of glistening ice, creating a beautiful design.  A bright red cardinal sat in a distant tree, stunningly contrasting with the drab woods behind it.  The scene was that of splendor.  A majestic beauty that only nature can create to entice our senses.  For a moment I had forgotten about the “adult” chores that lay before me this day.


I guess we all need to look at the best in all seasons.  Even those seasons that we don’t cherish have a great deal to offer.  We need to learn to enjoy them.