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Speaking of Nature: Selective mowing: Finding the right balance of how much and how often to cut back the grass
07-09-2024 1:17 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

I think it is safe to say that most everyone is familiar with the notion of something called “No Mow May.” Basically, the concept promotes the idea that all mowing be put on hold during the month of May in order to allow our pollinators to get the...

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Speaking of Nature: Introducing the Alder Flycatcher: After 27 years of waiting, the bird finally allowed itself to be photographed
06-25-2024 2:21 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

This week I have the rare pleasure of introducing you to a new species for the first time. After 27 years of reporting on my observations, I have finally acquired a photograph that I think is worthy of such an introduction. I have been exploring the...


Speaking of Nature: Identifying an unusual critter: And an invitation for readers to give it a name
06-18-2024 10:53 AM

By BILL DANIELSON

I first saw this curious little animal on June 1. It was a beautiful day outside, but the cottonwood tree that grows next to my deck was in full seed-dispersal mode and sitting outside was not really an option. Imagine a snowstorm, but the flakes of...


Speaking of Nature: Too slow to survive? All porcupines want is a peaceful life in the country woods
06-11-2024 2:27 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

I was on my way to work the other day and, at least initially, I was enjoying the morning drive. The sun rises just after 5:00 a.m. these days and the approach of my last day of school added a little buoyancy to the otherwise monotonous commute. I...


Speaking of Nature: The return of some familiar feathered faces: Tree swallows come home to the same fields they used the previous year
06-04-2024 1:38 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

One of the great joys of the spring is the year’s first appearance of the tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). In my yard this event almost always occurs in the first week of April and this year was no exception. It was a close call, but the first...


Kayaker’s delight: Best day-paddles along the Connecticut River in Massachusetts
05-23-2024 5:05 PM

By ANNA LAIRD BARTO

Last summer, I chronicled my 68-mile paddle of the Connecticut River through Massachusetts. Along the way, I became very well acquainted with the river, its bends and currents, dams and bridges, trees and wildlife — even its sewage overflows! Here are...


Speaking of Nature: Bird of my dreams, it’s you: Spotting a White-tailed Tropicbird on our cruise in Bermuda
04-30-2024 12:11 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

It was the morning of April 16 and I was up early. It seems to be impossible for me to sleep late at this time of year because I am so excited about seeing the first birds of the season, but this particular morning was a little different. It was the...


Speaking of Nature: ‘Those sound like chickens’: Wood frogs and spring peepers are back — and loud as ever
04-23-2024 12:44 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

During a recent lecture on evolutioin I had to explain the differences between three different processes known as geographic, temporal and behavioral isolation. Geographic isolation is the easiest of these concepts to understand because it involves...


Speaking of Nature: Molting for amore: Spring has arrived and male goldfinches are starting to molt into their nuptial plumage
04-09-2024 12:16 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

It just so happens that I am a creature of habit and I always write my column on a Thursday. On this particular morning I find myself luxuriating in an unexpected, but most welcome, deviation from my normal routine. A huge winter storm has arrived and...


DCR sees booking surge at state campgrounds
03-28-2024 4:42 PM

By DOMENIC POLI

It seems people from all over are anxious for warmer weather to arrive as bookings at the three state camping locations in Hampshire and Franklin counties are filling up fast, mirroring a trend at state-run campsites throughout Massachusetts.The state...


Speaking of Nature: One lucky duck: Stumbling upon an entire flotilla of Common Mergansers
03-19-2024 1:23 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

It was a rainy Sunday morning at the beginning of March and I was suffering from cabin fever. It hasn’t been a particularly cold winter, but I had been cooped up nonetheless. Saturday had gone by without incident, like so many Saturday’s since the new...


Speaking of Nature: The bird that surprised me: Brown Creeper uncommon for most of year, expertly camoflauges among dead trees
03-05-2024 1:20 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

It was the end of a very long day, but, because of the increasing daylight that we have all been enjoying, it was still light out when I got home. I pulled up to the garage, but I had to get out to open the garage door because my door opener had died....


Speaking of Nature: From rare to regular: The Carolina Wren may soon become a regular backyard bird for all of us
02-27-2024 2:53 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2023 was the warmest year ever recorded. I remember it being hot in the summertime, but I think the effect of this heat was most noticed by me in the autumn. The Thinking Chair...


Speaking of Nature: Where have all the birds gone?: They’re there, and here’s a handy tool to keep track of their appearances
02-06-2024 1:46 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

I receive emails from readers throughout the year and I do my best to respond to them in a timely manner. Sometimes messages pile up in my inbox and sometimes things get filed incorrectly, but I genuinely do try to respond to every one. This year (the...


Earth Matters: Queering the outdoors: The Venture Out Project empowers LGBTQIA2S+ people through community and adventure
02-01-2024 3:07 PM

By ALLIE MARTINEAU

Affinity spaces for queer people are essential, to share the things we carry. To meet friends, trade craft and clothing, talk about our lives, how to find doctors and well-sewn binders, how to come out, change a tire, ask for a raise, or cook for a...


Speaking of Nature: It happens every year: Robins brave the snow in search of food
01-16-2024 11:45 AM

By BILL DANIELSON

Every winter I get a few emails from readers who want to know if it is normal to see American Robins in winter and every winter I send out responses that indicate that the presence of these birds is quite normal. I then go on to discuss various...


Speaking of Nature: An immature Cooper’s Hawk gives me a glare
12-26-2023 9:27 AM

By BILL DANIELSON

Dear Reader: I can’t believe that 2023 is almost over. Next week I am going to work on my traditional Year-In-Review column, but today I have decided to give myself permission to go back to one of my favorite photos of 2023. This is a photo that I...


Northampton makes key land purchase in Saw Mill Hills Greenway
04-11-2023 12:07 PM

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

NORTHAMPTON — The city of Northampton has finalized an acquisition of 229 acres to add to its Saw Mill Hills Greenway, connecting two previously separated areas used for outdoor recreational activities.The city completed the purchase on April 5 for a...


EarthTalk: Is artificial intelligence our magic bullet against runaway climate change?
02-21-2023 4:01 PM

Dear EarthTalk: How can we harness the power of AI to fight climate change? – P.K., Old Forge, PA No doubt, artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to play a significant role in addressing the challenges posed by climate change. One way that...


Speaking of Nature: The black cherry — An easy tree to identify in winter
02-21-2023 3:57 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

As the days begin to lengthen, I find myself wistfully looking out the window of my car and watching the forests go by as I drive to work. The prolonged period of warmer-than-average weather that we have experienced this winter has also left the...


Speaking of Nature: The yellow birch: A golden surprise in the woods
01-17-2023 3:30 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

In keeping with my New Years resolution to focus some more attention on the plants that live around us I decided to look for a list that I was convinced must exist somewhere. You see, I am a compulsive list-maker. The blood of a scientist runs through...

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