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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...

Displaying articles 1 to 20 out of 63 total.
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Earth Matters: A brief history of our soil: Why the Valley land produces such amazing crop
06-13-2024 1:59 PM

By TOM LITWIN

There is a stretch of road that runs north along the Connecticut River from the Whately/Hatfield line to the foot of Sugarloaf. It is no surprise its name is River Road. Leaving Northampton I often take “the river road,” the long way home. Over the...


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...


Earth Matters: Swamps, stewardship and conservation: What does it mean to care for a forest?
06-06-2024 3:32 PM

By CHRISTINE HATCH

Swamps are great story villains. They are notoriously difficult to navigate due to their sinking sticky mud, spiked vines and dense vegetation; they are neither fully land nor water, negating boats and footwear as helpful vessels for traversing them;...


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...


Speaking of Nature: The telltale song of summer: Singing green frogs welcome me back to the Thinking Chair
05-28-2024 12:19 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

For most people, Memorial Day marks the first day of summer. The official first day may not actually be observed until three weeks later, but the three-day weekend gives people a chance to get outside and fire up the grill, or perhaps even go camping....


Earth Matters: Biodiversity crisis in our backyard: The science behind saving habitat for wildlife
05-23-2024 2:36 PM

By KARI BLOOD

One of the reasons many of us love living in the Valley is being able to see wildlife around us. But those sightings will become increasingly rare if humans don’t take bold steps to slow the loss of species around the world. Scientists are sounding...


Speaking of Nature: Wilson’s warbler sighting my first in a decade: The story of a bird named after the ‘Father Of American Ornithology’
05-21-2024 1:37 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

In 1794, a Scot named Alexander Wilson arrived in the newly-independent nation of the United States of America and got to the business of starting a new life for himself. He had been employed as a weaver back home and thought he could make a go of it...


Speaking of Nature: Surprised by strawberries in the grass: Flowers will bloom whether you pay attention or not
05-14-2024 11:47 AM

By BILL DANIELSON

Every week I try to end my column with an inspirational line or two in the hopes of motivating my readers to get outside and see what’s going on in their own back yards. As I sit and peck away at the keyboard this morning I realize that the...


Speaking of Nature: Capturing my Bermuda nemesis: The Great Kiskadee nearly evaded me, until I followed its song
05-07-2024 1:51 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

We’ve reached that point in the school year when it is actually painful (I mean physically painful) for me to leave my yard in the morning. May is the true month of the reawakening and blooming of Nature’s splendor and last week she was in full...


Earth Matters: Honoring a local hero: After 40 years, Hitchcock Center bids farewell to educator and creative leader, Colleen Kelley
05-03-2024 1:51 PM

By TED WATT and HELEN ANN SEPHTON

This column honors Colleen Kelley, the education director at the Hitchcock Center, who will soon be leaving her post after 40 years.In the fall of 1984, Colleen walked into the Hitchcock Center — young, bright, idealistic, and fresh off a position as...


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...


Earth Matters: From Big Sits to Birdathons: Birding competitions far and near
04-18-2024 1:46 PM

By JOSHUA ROSE

A few months ago, headlines flared that Peter Kaestner had seen his 10,000th bird species. This could have been anticlimactic, as Kaestner has been renowned for years among birders for traveling worldwide and seeing more species than anyone.However,...


Speaking of Nature: Indulging in eye candy: Finally, after such a long wait, it’s beginning to look like spring is here
04-16-2024 12:16 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

I have just about reached the end of my patience with the winter of 2024. I realize that this may sound a bit strange, especially because we are now in the beginning of spring, but those of us who bore the brunt of the April snowstorm may sympathize...


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...


Speaking of Nature: No power, no problem: The late-March storm that set a new record
04-02-2024 12:17 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

As seems to be the case more and more often, March went out with a bang. And, in agreement with my assessment of the year from last week’s column, it seems only fitting that we experienced our most major winter storm of the season in what was...


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: Is this Grackle really common? Behold the bird’s colorful iridescence on a sunny day
03-26-2024 12:35 PM

By BILL DANIELSON

After a while, one learns what to expect with each month and each season. July is going to be hot and humid, October will be colorful and somewhat melancholy, January will be cold and sleepy, and then there is March. March is the month for which the...


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: Bring the birds to you: A behind-the-scenes tip of nature photography
03-12-2024 10:23 AM

By BILL DANIELSON

Every week, rain or shine, winter or summer, I try to find something fun, interesting and positive to talk about in my column. This is actually an easy thing to do, but what can be somewhat problematic is finding a photo that will pair nicely with the...

Displaying articles 1 to 20 out of 63 total.
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