Book Talk and Walk 12 recap

We had a nice book talk and walk last Sunday. There were 5 of us who participated. We enjoyed some good discussion and tasty snacks. We all loved the book. The stories and the illustrations were very good. Caring for orphaned and injured birds, especially baby song birds, is a lot of hard work and requires a lot of commitment. However it is pretty nice to have a lifestyle where you can live on 80 acres of country land and garden, write, paint give talks and bond with birds. Being a skillful writer, painter and speaker is a good way to have a nice career. For those of you who have not read the book I highly recommend it for both bird and nature lovers.

We had a lovely day for the walk that followed. Sunny, cloudless and light wind and not very cold (about 40F). A stark contrast to Saturday where it was cold, windy and snowed the entire day and into the night. Winter’s last harrah. Now let’s bring on the spring!

Skunk cabbage flowering.

Skunk cabbage flowering.


Birds seen: Osprey, cormorants, mallards, Canada geese, downy wood pecker, tree swallows, cardinal, chickadees, red winged blackbirds, and robins.


The woods in spring at Caleb Smith.

Stay tuned for the announcement for the next book talk and walk! See you then! Happy Spring everyone!


The woods in shadow on the hill still have snow.


In the other direction, the bottom land woods in sun have little snow.




Book Talk and Walk VIII Recap: A rainy day

Well it turned out to be a rainy day for our book talk and walk event. A perfect day to curl up with a good book! Though it was a steady downpour for the day we did end up having one participant. We ended up having a nice discussion of the book and enjoyed some good snakes as well. Needless to say we did not have the walk part of our event. Instead we contented ourselves looking out the window at the wet scenery. There was some activity however. A group of Canada geese were feeding in the grass seeming oblivious to the rain. They were joined by a few grackles and starlings. All and all not a bad day. Stay tuned for our next book talk and walk announcement. In the meantime find yourself a sit spot and learn bird language (!Caleb Smith State Park

Book Talk and Walk VII: Recap Memories of Summer

Well it’s been a bit of a tough winter this year and a busy period for us. So now I finally have a chance to post a follow up to our last Book Talk and Walk. With the winter weather we’ve been having anticipation of spring is in the air. Until then here are memories of last summer. Here are a few photos of some summer flowers we saw on our walk.

After our discussion we had a lovely early evening walk and saw some pretty summer flowers.

Prickly Pear:

Prickly Pear Cactus Flower (Custom)

Many people think of cactuses like the prickly pear cactus to be denizens of the desert. However the Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa)like other members of its genus thrive anywhere in sunny places with well drained sandy soils. Conditions that are found in abundance at West Meadow Beach. The Eastern Prickly Pear is found throughout the eastern U.S. where the right conditions for it are found. It is part of a genus of 200 species. It flowers in June and develops an edible red fleshy fruit afterwards.

Beach Rose:

Beach Rose

The beach rose (Rosa rugosa) is an introduced species that is abundant at West Meadow beach. Also known as sea rose and salt-spray rose it has bright, pleasant smelling, showy, pinkish flowers in June. Afterwards the fleshy bright red rose hips are prominent. The beach rose is a shrub that forms dense thickets. It is considered a noxious weed in many places.


Common Milkweed

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is another lovely June flowering plant found at West Meadow Beach that grows in sandy soils in sunny locations. It is an important nectar source for butterflies, especially monarchs, and other insects including bees.

A Lovely Sunset

DSCN0795 (Custom)

At the end of our summer ramble we were treated to a lovely sunset. Another successful Book Talk and Walk!

Book Talk and Walk VI: Recap

We had another successful book club get together at Caleb Smith! There we four participants who joined us. We began with a good discussion of the book. We talked about some of the hardships early naturalists had to endure on their tropical collecting trips. There were also hazards on the journey too and from collecting spots. Also many collections were lost when ships sank or burned or simply the specimens deteriorated during the long journey back. Considering the time it took to travel plus the time spent exploring, a shipment of lost samples, notes, drawings could represent years of work lost.

We followed our discussion with a brief walk. It was a little chilly and cloudy but there were a couple of sunny breaks.  We did not see a whole lot other than the common birds such as mallards, Canada geese, gulls, chickadees and crows. We turned over some logs and saw a bunch of pill bugs and several garden centipedes. All and all it was another pleasant book talk and walk!

Photo credit: Michael Bloom

Book Talk and Walk V: Recap

Our fifth event turned out to be a successful one. After a nasty wintery day from a nor’easter on Saturday. A storm that dumped a lot of snow north and west of us. We had a beautiful fall Sunday afternoon for our program. We had about 15 participants, our largest turn out so far. We had some good discussion and everyone seemed to enjoy our snacks. Our walk was a good ramble through the woods of Caleb Smith. We saw several fine trees and a few recently cut down trees. The trees were probably cut due to damage from recent storms. We were able to get a good look at the tree rings. One of the trees was a big American beech that we estimated was nearly 200 years old. The other tree was an old oak that was probably nearly 150 years old. We met some nice large white pines, several red cedars, a couple of pitch pines, and several oaks and maples. I discussed the leaf litter at one spot by digging through the litter into the humus and soil. I discussed the decomposition of the leaves and some of the critters in the soil and litter. A very large earth worm was found and I discussed how these worms are from Europe and not native to North America. I also turned over some rotting logs hoping to scare up a salamander or two but no such luck. I did point out some strands of fungal hyphae that were present though. We also visited a couple of little streams and I tried to find some stream invertebrates to show the group by scooping up some clumps of leaves out of the water. I was only able to scare up a few amphipods to show. Fortunately I had a bug box to put one in so people could get a good look. All in all a very enjoyable walk for everyone. I can’t wait for the next one!