Another puzzle this winter was a brown and white mystery feeding under a friends feeder. After much page turning of the Sibley book with its excellent plumage variations, the answer was a solitary, lonely snow bunting male starting to change to its summer colors. I hope it found its friends before heading for Baffin Island where I once saw a pair nesting in a cliff.

The rest of the birds this winter, except for a brief visit by a Cooper’s hawk that dashed across the roof scaring the birds up, have been the usual chickadees, the two nuthatches, and two woodpeckers, with their friend the brown creeper which is always with them, creeping up the trees and flying back down to the bases, and for the first time ever I have seen a golden-crowned kinglet, the midget of the winter birds, also hanging out in the background with the chickadee crowd while they are feeding. A treat also has been regular visits by two titmouses/mice/whatever.

Another advantage of a slow spring is there is more time to notice and enjoy the emeralds of the forest—mosses and liverworts. They are every shade of green, many sizes, textures, and growth habits, growing on rock, dead logs and stumps, live trees, dirt—and every species, hundreds of them, have a name. In the past many did not have common names but a new field guide called Common Mosses of the Northeast and Appalachians has invented a name for every one, so now the Latin-challenged can use a name, often a descriptive one. An excellent “key” helps the beginner figure them out.

I love the natural world; but thanks to a modern technology I am going to try to lead nature rambles in this area in a stochastic (unpredictable) way. If you phone me once (251-3772) to talk about your physical ability limitations and preferred days and give me your email address, when the weather looks good and the time is right for me, I will email everyone giving the day, location, and time to meet, and other details such as whether the focus will be birds, flowers or other natural features of interest. Our breeding birds are on their way so if you want to learn or at least hear some of the trickier ones, let me know right away!

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