June 24, 2015 - Block Island, RI:
Every day is filled with natural history marvels, but some days, one wonder just follows another.
With the help of Dave Milner and the BI Power Co., we banded this year's two osprey chicks. The young were well feathered and are obviously (based on the smell left on my hands) feeding well on fish brought to the nest by the male parent. Soon these two youngsters will be seen teetering on the edge of the nest platform flapping their wings and strengthening their muscles in preparation for that all important first flight, and - the more important - first landing, back on the nest. We can expect to see these birds through August, learning to fly and to feed themselves, before they start their dangerous first migration south, perhaps well into the Carribbean or South America.
With ospreys banded, OVF EcoWorker, Elsie Drummond, and I reconvened later in the morning for Art & Nature, where the day's live model was a painted turtle. The turtle on-hand was found as she moved away from a wetland in search of a sandy spot where she could lay her eggs. The ventral shell of the turtle below measured 14 centimeters, which put her at over 25 years old.
It must have been a day for turtles. When I went to my garden I found the telltale hole of a recently dug nest of a snapping turtle. (Alas, I did not see a spotted turtle, which would be the last of the three species of turtles found on Block Island.
And, why was I headed to the garden? I was on a mission to apply some natural pesticides - in the form of at least a hundred praying mantid young, which had just emerged from their overwintering ootheca (egg case). If you are lucky in the fall you can find an ootheca, which is often placed on the stems of grasses or other vegetative stems - look carefully along the edge of a field after a late season mowing. However, this ootheca had just been presented to, and received, by me days earlier, by a friend offering a house gift - in the same way that a visiting guest would offer a bottle of wine.
Not every day is so full with such rich encounters with nature's other beings, but these amazing examples of the continuation of life cycles are going on all around us, everyday. So, keep your eyes open and spend at least part of each day moving at a snail's - or walker's - pace.