Nature Watch

NATURE WATCH: Sugar Maples A Flowering

by Nona Estrin Forget the dreary weather and step outside! The sugar maples are flowering! Only a couple or three times each decade, sugar maples all over the Northeast use chemical signaling to achieve synchronous flowering and this year is one of those precious springs! That haze of white-green, so etherial, is made up of […]

NATURE WATCH: Spring Garden Time

by Nona Estrin Fox sparrows are still passing through our yard, with flocks of juncos, all on their way North to breed. And our menus are sparked by the many dishes made with the tender leaves of marsh marigolds or from wild leeks from the woods below the house. They are in soups, frittatas, even […]

NATURE WATCH: Welcome, Spring!

by Nona Estrin Oh, the brilliant, musical notes of the fox sparrow! That settles it! Spring is officially here! The vanguard of these large rusty red sparrows, is now passing through from our southern states, to Canada, where they breed. And a returning song sparrow just showed up in the rose tangle at the back […]

NATURE WATCH: Bubble, Bubble: It’s Boiling Time!

All the pleasures and inconveniences of deep winter in a flash-storm complete with cancellations and days off school! We are skiing again, cautiously, as there is no base to cover sticks, rocks and stumps, and any fall could be serious! And around the corner, another thaw, another spring, this one with long late afternoons of […]

NATURE WATCH: Life Re-Emerges

The yard is full of red-winged blackbirds and their song. By noon the brooks are tumbling along to join the Winooski. It’s a tender time, with life returning. Re-emerging, this year three weeks early. A quick trip to the feed stores reminds me that we live in a time of great danger to all life, […]

NATURE WATCH: The Character Evolution Of Snow

by Nona Estrin Finally a storm with deep snow. Being so fresh,  the snow does not yet have character. Over the next days it may become more fluid and  start to drape from the branches of trees. As it degrades on the ground it may slump  into interesting patterns or gullies, or if it stays […]

NATURE WATCH: Springtime Cometh!

by Nona Estrin February’s still my favorite month. When new snow begins to melt in the sun and make its trip to the sea; when sunny longer days start and end with lavender shadows on gold to peach-tinged snow surfaces; gladness shakes me out of winter and gives me a breath of new life. We […]

NATURE WATCH: Joyful Sparrows Leave Early This Year

NATURE WATCH: Joyful Sparrows Leave Early This Year

by Nona Estrin For the first time in 20 years, our small troupe of American Tree Sparrows from the far north, has decamped early. The joyful flock of birds musically chittering under a rose bush, where I toss mixed seed each day, is gone. Called Chip Darmstadt at the North Branch Nature Center. He too […]


by Nona Estrin A real winter! Now with deer season over, out to the fields and woods we go on skis. We were visited this week by an uncommon bird from sub-arctic Canada, the Northern Shrike. The blue jay-sized carnivorus song bird quickly killed, and than slowly ate, a junko, fussing repeatedly with the business of […]

NATURE WATCH: Ice Drives Us Inside, Tree Sparrows Arrive

NATURE WATCH: Ice Drives Us Inside, Tree Sparrows Arrive

by Nona Estrin Recently we’ve had a couple of migration stragglers. A lone fox sparrow is kicking around in the brush at the edge of the lawn with newly arrived American tree sparrows, on time for their annual winter stay. A single grackle too, and a red-bellied woodpecker, not expected at all, likely from further […]