Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pileated woodpecker!

This afternoon we observed a pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) on a dead tree (cherry, I think) just south of the Pardoe building. This picture was taken from the back porch with a zoom lens.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Chickadee accident

This afternoon we heard a "thunk" on one of the big plate glass windows in the office. A chickadee had flown into the window and unfortunately, died.

We do have raptor sillhouettes taped to the windows to try to deter these little guys from flying towards the windows, but we do have feeders nearby and there has been a lot of traffic. Here is Bird Watcher's Digest list of the Top 10 Ways to Prevent Window Strikes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Deer update

Sometime during the night on Monday, the deer carcass was dragged downhill a ways from where we had been observing it. At this point is is nearly skeletal, though the head is mostly intact, as well as the large block of frozen innards, though this has been quite chewed on and scraped at.

There is a good deal of fur in the area, urine markings, coyote tracks, as well as an unusual pile of scat which Cathy suspects COULD be a bobcat:


This morning there was the distinct tapping sound of a woodpecker high in a tree very near the Pardoe building. Sure enough, after a few minutes a little downy woodpecker was spotted on the limb of a small oak. Actually it turned out that there were two on the same tree! Here is a picture of one of them:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Snowshoeing in Gilmanton

Prescott Farm has partnerships with Gilford, Gilmanton & Belmont Elementary schools to bring naturalists into the schools to work with students and teachers. PFAC Program Naturalist Sarah Dunham works with the Gilmanton School and spent this morning snowshoeing with 7th & 8th graders on the conservation land across the street from the school.

Deer prints were abundant, as well as mouse tracks. We also found four areas where deer had bedded down for the night. The area is also heavily browsed by deer (nibbled twigs and stripped bark).

Here is a picture of the kids on the trail, as well as a picture of one of the deer beds:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Winter "weeds"

The remnants of much of last summer's greenery, these dried plant stalks and seed heads are often overlooked, but really quite beautiful. Their seeds are also an important winter food source for many species of birds. Go outside and take a closer look -- you won't be disappointed!

These pictures were all taken near the edge of the parking lot at Prescott Farm.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New snow on Sunday

Prescott Farm received another thick blanket of snow on Sunday - great for snowshoeing and tracking. If you are nearby, come on over with your snowshoes! Trail maps are located in the mailbox at the corner of the building and trails are open from dawn to dusk every day.

Below is a picture of some snowshoe hare tracks observed on Saturday 1/10 during our training session for mammal tracking survey volunteers (volunteers walk three transects across the property and record any signs of mammal activity). These tracks were abundant in a thick grove of young white pine trees at the edge of the field across the road, as well as in a nearby alder thicket. Some scat was observed as well.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Full moon last week

Here is a picture of the lovely full moon rise last Saturday, January 10:

The picture is taken from the field just south of the house, looking east across the road. We had 19 people show up for a full moon snowshoe hike that evening and only one of them had ever been to Prescott Farm before - it was great to have so many new people! Unfortunately by the time of the program, the clouds had mostly covered the moon, but it was still bright enough to see where we were going.

We will be offering another Full Moon Snowshoe hike on Saturday, February 7th from 6:30-8:30.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Deer Saga, continued...

Yesterday we looked out around noon and there was a red fox working on the dead deer...

This photo was taken from the window of the program room in the Pardoe building, so it is a bit fuzzy with the zoom lens. Cathy stepped outside and watched the fox leave the deer and come up onto the snowbank at the edge of the parking lot, quite close to her, and then head off north towards the driveway. Interestingly, it was about the same time of day that Terri had first seen the fox heading toward the deer the day before.

We also had a Fish & Game officer come out to look at the deer to determine if it had been shot, but he, too, thinks it was hit by a car. He and Bruce dragged the deer to the woods where we can easily see any action from the big window of the program room. We set up the motion detector camera again and are hoping for some good pictures to share in the near future.

Just a reminder - we will be holding a guided tracking program this Saturday, January 17 from 1:00-3:00pm. Cost is $10 for Audubon members and $12 for non-members.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dead deer...

Yesterday we discovered that there was a dead deer in the field behind the caretaker's house. There were many, many coyote and fox tracks all around. We spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what might have happened! Thinking about it now, it may have been hit by a car and wandered into the field because it looked like there had been quite a bit of internal bleeding that froze before the predators got to it.

The caretaker saw a fox tugging on the body around noon when she called to tell us about it. She also said she looked out several times during the night and thinks she may have seen a feasting fisher as well.

Won't post the most graphic pictures, but here is one, anyway. You can see how it was dragged from where it first lay:

We also set up our motion detector game camera overnight and it took 9 pictures, but we won't get the film developed until all 24 frames have been taken. Today the snow has blown over the site and most tracks are obscured.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Welcome to the brand-new blog for Prescott Farm Audubon Center. Tune in each day for the latest natural history observations from the farm (an online nature journal of sorts!), as well as camp updates and program & event announcements.