My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!


Long Time No Blog

Taken with iPhone
Me with Franklin

I keep hearing from everyone    “ PLEASE BLOG” . . . . “TOM you have not updated in forever”!! Ok . . . I love you guys also! Here is the skinny . . . I do plan to do Owls this Fall but it will not be in the park this year!! Yes . . . Patty and I purchased a new home!!! Just closed yesterday!!! Perfect for Owl Banding!!!

Along Chautauqua Lake

five woodducks

A few summer photos taken from the pontoon boat on Chautauqua Lake.

Little Snapping Turtle

Baby Snapping Turtle
Top Side of the Turtle

I encountered a tiny Snapping Turtle crossing the road today. I had almost hit it but quickly realized what it was and then gave it an escort to avoid becoming crow food.

Non-birds at Chincoteague

Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel
Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is known for its ponies and its migratory birds but having such outstanding habitat on the island, you would expect to find some other hidden treasures!! The first hidden treasure can be easily locate on Chincoteague and called the Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel. This squirrel has been recognized as a subspecies of the fox squirrel and is listed on the endangered species list. I found it interesting that the Delmarva name come from where these squirrels had first originated: Delaware, Maryland and Virginia! I think they are adorable little squirrels to me!

Snapping Turtle walking on the Ice

Snapping Turtle on Ice
Yes that is a Snapping Turtle on the Ice

You always need to be ready to expect the unexpected and last Friday was one of those days. I have seen Amphibians climbing over the ice and snow to get to their vernal pools (which should be happening soon) . . . . but I never thought about Reptiles enjoying winter sports!!! Friday I found this Snapping Turtle ice skating across Red House Lake in Allegany State Park and so I asked this turtle, “Dude . . . . what are you thinking?”

Happy Valentines Day

Staying Warm
Tree Swallows

Happy Valentines Day everyone . . . . This is a day for spending time with your love ones!

Little Wood Turtle

Wood Turtle
Wood Turtle

Today I found a tiny wood turtle along one of the paths that I was walking here in Allegany State Park. Wasn’t the smallest Wood Turtle that I have ever found but it is unusual to find little ones like this!! Of course I had to take a few pictures of it!

Reptiles – 2007 Checklist

I decided to split up my 2007 Nature Checklist into 5 different categories; Butterflies & Skippers, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals and Birds! Reptiles (6) are the next family in my series of species that I have kept track of within Western New York State.

Common Garter Snake
Common Garter Snake (more…)

REPTILES – My 2006 Nature Checklist

I decided to split up my 2006 Nature Checklist into 5 different categories; Butterflies & Skippers, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals and Birds! Reptiles are the next family in my series of species that I have kept track of within Western New York State. I have also taken the Reptiles and split them up between Turtles (4) and Snakes (6).

the eyes

Some turtle species like the Eastern Painted Turtle can be consistently found in the same area day after day. Then if you’re lucky you could find turtles which are more secretive and it then becomes blog worthy. Last spring I had one of these experiences with a snapping turtle that approached me while I was out in the water searching by flashlight for spring peepers. Suddenly I felt something hit my rubber boots and this large snapping turtle climbing over my foot. I quickly tried to grab it but within a blink of an eye it crawled under a clump of grass. I did my best to grab it but was out of reach and I did not want to loose any fingers. We had so much fun that night.

Along the side of the road! Wood Turtle

The next exciting day was on the 1st of June 2006 where I didn’t find one but two unusual turtle encounters. Earlier in the day we had a male Wood Turtle crossing one of the dirt roads here in Allegany. Each year I sometimes come across one or maybe two Wood Turtle here in Allegany. What was so exciting about this find was that this guy was in an area which I had never seen them in this area before. That wasn’t the highlight of the day, it came later heading into town to get some pizza. I found this female Snapper looking for a place to lay her eggs in the gravel. This Snapping Turtle was very laid back and surprisingly it allowed me to get very close for a few pictures! I quickly took a few shots and let her do her thing. I did return later in the evening to find that she had successfully crossed back across the road without any harm.

there are times you shouldn't use you macro lens Painted Turtle and Mini Me

Then you have those unusual encounters where you find this strange thing stuck in the middle of the road (or bridge). In late July this happened to an Eastern Spiny Softshell and luckily a concerned individual safely removed it from being run over by passing vehicles. It happened to have gotten stuck in the middle of the bridge and couldn’t figure out how to get over the edge. You might wonder how I ended up getting involved; well this person placed this turtle into a bag and brought it to my office for me to identify for him (people bring me unusual presents all the time). Shocked by this unique find, I quickly knew what this funny looking turtle was a Softshell and that we needed to return it back to the lake. I found it amazing how quickly it dashed into the water once we released it.

Here is my list of Turtles which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):

1. Common Snapping Turtle 3. Eastern Spiny Softshell
2. Eastern Painted Turtle 4. Wood Turtle

Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)

This year I didn’t spent too much time looking for snakes and only really missed out on seeing the Eastern Milk Snake from my previous years checklist. The highlights this year had to have been seeing three Smooth Green Snakes. Typically I only find green’s squished on the road and rarely lucky enough to find them alive! While at the Audubon Nature Pilgrimage this year, Rex had two live ones that he had found (and let me hold one). Then in late June while leading a group of people into the Old Growth Forest we happen to find a Smooth Green in some of the vegetation. I think we also found a Garter that day and the walk quickly turned into a reptile talk. We released the snakes where we found them and continued back talking about forest ecology. It was one of those few times that I didn’t have my camera with me.

Ringneck in the hand Ringneck in the leaf

Regarding other species of snakes, the Northern Ring-neck Snake truly put on a show for me year. I found some tiny ones around the admin building and even found one while it was snowing out in October. I was successful this year in photographing a Northern Water Snake after numerous unsuccessful attempts throughout the summer. Common Garter snakes were just as common as always and can’t wait believe where they were being seen.

Here is my list of Snakes which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):

1. Northern Water Snake 4. Eastern Garter Snake
2. Brown Snake 5. Northern Ring-neck Snake
3. Red-bellied Snake 6. E. Smooth Green Snake

Water Snake

I can’t wait to see what reptiles in 2007 will bring me. Maybe even a Timber Rattlesnake??

My 2006 blogging review of this site

There is always that one moment in your life when something happens and your life is turned upside down! This could be your first up close encounter of that colorful small bird. You then find yourself becoming a birdwatcher within a matter of seconds. You remember those brown streaks down its body as clearly and those mini sideburns on its head. That’s right “how could I have forgotten its bright yellow ball cap on its head”?? You’re then looking through a line up of birds in your new field guide trying to figure out what it could be? Well, this Chestnut-sided Warbler wasn’t the bird that started my new love of blogging but a Black Bear visiting my bird feeder is what did me in!

Remember to take down your bird feeders!

For as long as I live, I will never forget my heart pumping almost 100 miles per/hour and this bears trashy mildew smell following it (the original post can be seen HERE). Yes, I have come across bears on numerous occasions but this one encounter was very special! It was me and the bear eye-to-eye and I had never been so scared in my life! Luckily I was able to capture a few photos before my neighbors dog started barking.

This was a time period which I had started visiting some of my flickr friends blogs and something just clicked that this would be a great experience to share through a blog?  I find myself 6 months after starting this blog and excited that this will be my 100th post here on “Mon@rch’s Nature Blog”. I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by and I never would have expected to have so much to say to everyone.

I guess this is the perfect opportunity to reflect on a few of my favorite post from 2006 which I think you should go back and revisit again (or visit for the first time).

Is that a…..   your kidding me…..

Back in August we rescued this Beaver who somehow got trapped in one of the Administration Buildings window wells. This is something that I could have never imagined having to save but there is no doubt that this has to be my all time favorite post for 2006. To see more go to: Is that a …. Your kidding me …


mamma and the kids

My saddest post for 2006 would have to be the loss of “Marshmallow” the albino woodchuck who everyone in the park tried to see but still fell in love with. This poor little thing lost its life when given the option of challenging a dog or taking its chances with a vehicle. To see more go to: It’s not my fault that I am a mutant!


Fun Backpacking Trip

My most proud moment of 2006 was when the kids and I were able to complete our two day adventure backpacking along the North Country Trail. We started from my house and hiked to the kid’s parent’s campsite. To see more go to: Day 1 and Day 2

Wood Turtle that is tiny little guy

I think one of the most interesting discovery I had for 2006 was the young Woodturtle we found that had a broken shell. To be honest, that whole day was fun discovering wildflowers, herps, birds, ect… but this Woodturtle is a critter that I think about all the time. To see more go to: Young Woodturtle

Who - Who Cooks For You ALLLL!!

There is no doubt that I banded many wonderful birds this season. I also had an amazing year banding the Northern Saw-whet Owls and documenting each day on this blog. But, I have to give this Barred Owl the award for my largest bird banded in 2006. To see more go to: An unusual visitor at the banding station

Tree Clubmoss

Lycopodium by Maxwell C. Wheat is such a wonderful poem and one that I have been thinking about using for Christmas for quite a while now. I have to give this post the award for the longest planned blog for 2006. Do expect more poems by Max to be posted here in 2007. To read the poem go to: Lycopodium
There were so many posts in this blog that I wanted to include but I needed to keep it down to only a few of my all time faves! So, please take the time to review the others from 2006 and I would love to hear which post were your favorites.

Might 2007 bring many wonderful things to blog and Happy New Year to everyone!

365 days on flickr

Thanks for an amazing 365 days!

I joined flickr one year ago and uploaded some butterfly pictures to a world which I never expected to change my life like it did. I have learned soo much from everyone and I have made such wonderful friends on the site. I helped Bird Mom in organizing camp flickr and attended some other flickr meets that have been scheduled. I have been encouraged through flickr to create this blog and share all my experiences with everyone. I started a few groups like herps and insects in the hand. So much has been learned by just looking at everyones pictures. I would like to thanks everyone for just being there for me when I need a smile. THANKS!

Pictures which made the top 500 on flickr’s explorer

What has made explorer over the past year!

1. Saying So Long for Another Season, 2. Waxwing when we use to have leaves!, 3. Herring Gulls riding the wind, 4. Northern Saw-whet Owl, 5. darner species, 6. running away newt, 7. Red House Creek, 8. a Happy Red Squirrel,

9. Summer Velvet, 10. Trouble Bears, 11. summer azure, 12. mamma and the kids, 13. cecropia moth, 14. big campfire, 15. Along the side of the road!, 16. Office Visitor,

17. Sharp-shinned Hawk, 18. can I help you with something, 19. woodfrog eggs, 20. an older monarch photo, 21. Snowdrops in the Rain, 22. Northern Saw-whet Owl, 23. Mini Me!, 24. Scotish Highland Cow,

25. Red House Lake, 26. A Summer Millipede, 27. Viceroy, 28. Gray Comma Looking a little camouflage!, 29. NSWO, 30. White Admiral

Young Woodturtle Found

Found a very tiny Wood Turtle Clemmys insculpta along the Horse Trail here in Allegany State Park. No one in the group had seen this species this small before. Its measurements was 110mm by 80mm which is very tiny (check this photo Adult Woodturtle to see the typical size that I see them). Also, this turtle had an older cracked shell incident which we are guessing was caused by a horse stepping on it (shape and size). It is probably a few years of age and appeared to have survived the accident with the cracked shell (starting to grow together). But, this turtle did have paralyzed hind legs and would drag it with its front legs!


Wood Turtle Clemmys insculpta Wood Turtle Measurements

Wood Turtle that is tiny little guy Wood Turtle in-hand

Some time between rain showers



September is appearing to be the month of rain!  I took the opportunity to get out and take some pictures between the rain showers.

Winter Wren

This Winter Wren was hanging out around the Bova area where I was looking for some snakes. What was interesting about this bird was the way it would pop up (look for an insect) and then dart back into the shrubs.  Few seconds later it would come back (eat its insect) then dart back into the shrubs!  Between all that I was able to get a few photos!

Bull Frog

This Bull Frog was located while hiking down ASP Rt. 2.  I typically encounter a splash or see a quick movement when walking along any wet area.  Rarely do I encounter or visually get a good look at these squishy little critters.  But, today was an exception. I happen to encounter it just before the big jump and started to move slowly. With a blink of an eye it disappeared into the water but just after a few clicks of the camera.   

snapping turtle

Snapping Turtles are sometimes encountered along the roadside in the spring laying their eggs.  In September you’re more than likely to find them along the waters edge looking for food.  This snapper was spending most of its time with its head underwater moving very slowly.  It seemed to peak its head out of the water, check me out and continue what it was doing.

Visit to Jamestown Audubon

big pond

Today I visited Jamestown Audubon for their exhibit grand opening.  The day was truly joyful and I was able to visit with many friends.  Before the Audubon opened, I took a walk around the big pond and this is what I saw.

Cardinal Flower  Audubon Nature Trail  Honeybees

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns =   Jamestown Audubon  Painted Turtle and Mini Me

Green Back Heron  Pokeweed  Common Checkered Skipper

Labor Day Bird and Turtle

lazy labor day turtle

While visiting Quaker – I found this Double-crested Cormorant hanging out in the lake at Friends Boat Launch.

double crested cormorant

double crested cormorant swimming

flying cormorant