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Speaking of Nature: A bird that epitomizes ‘sleek’: An account of my first day at First Encounter Beach
07-15-2024 6:01 AM

By BILL DANIELSON

It was a Saturday morning on Cape Cod, which is usually a problematic day because it is moving day. All of the weekly renters start heading off the Cape to make room for the next wave of renters and traffic can be a bear. However, I had the advantage...

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PHOTOS: Deerly beloved
07-19-2024 7:21 PM


Speaking of Nature: Selective mowing: Finding the right balance of how much and how often to cut back the grass
07-08-2024 6:01 AM

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...


Speaking of Nature: Become a part of the background: Reasons why you can, and should, take up nature bathing
07-01-2024 6:01 AM

By BILL DANIELSON

Sometime back in the 1980s, in response to increased urbanization and technological development, the government of Japan decided that it was a good idea for people to turn off their electronics and get back to nature. Thus it was that the concept of...


Speaking of Nature: Introducing the Alder Flycatcher: After 27 years of waiting, the bird finally allowed itself to be photographed
06-23-2024 10:46 AM

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...


PHOTOS: Bear necessities
06-17-2024 6:21 PM


Speaking of Nature: Identifying an unusual critter: And an invitation to give it a name
06-17-2024 6:01 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...


Earth Matters: A brief history of our soil: Why the Valley land produces such amazing crop
06-14-2024 11:14 AM

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...


Tour marks 50th anniversary of Hawley Bog’s declaration as National Natural Landmark
06-11-2024 6:58 PM

By SAM FERLAND

HAWLEY — It’s been 50 years since the Hawley Bog was declared a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service, one of only 11 in Massachusetts, and visitors got to see why on Tuesday with a celebratory guided tour.The celebration, led by The...


Speaking of Nature: Too slow to survive? All porcupines want is a peaceful life in the country woods
06-10-2024 6:01 AM

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...


PHOTO: Paddling pair
06-04-2024 1:56 PM


Speaking of Nature: The return of some familiar feathered faces: Tree swallows come home to the same fields they used the previous year
06-03-2024 5:01 AM

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...


Earth Matters: Swamps, stewardship and conservation: What does it mean to care for a forest?
05-31-2024 2:24 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 telltale song of summer: Singing green frogs welcome me back to the Thinking Chair
05-27-2024 6:01 AM

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....


PHOTO: Piqued interest
05-24-2024 12:18 PM


Earth Matters: Biodiversity crisis in our backyard: The science behind saving habitat for wildlife
05-24-2024 11:23 AM

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’
05-20-2024 6:01 AM

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...


‘As the woods wake up, it’s my favorite time’: Turkey hunters relish spring season
05-17-2024 12:36 PM

By DOMENIC POLI

The Boston Red Sox season will still be warming up by the end of this month, with about 110 games remaining before the playoffs. But outdoor sportsmen across Massachusetts will have already hung up their gear until around the time the World Series...


Experts advise bird rescue best left to professional, permitted wildlife rehabilitators
05-15-2024 4:58 PM

By CHRIS LARABEE

CONWAY — As spring continues to bloom and birds migrate back toward the region, folks should remember to leave bird rehabilitation and rescues to professional, permitted wildlife rehabilitators.Local experts and the state Division of Fisheries and...


Speaking of Nature: Surprised by strawberries in the grass: Flowers will bloom whether you pay attention or not
05-13-2024 6:01 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
05-06-2024 6:01 AM

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...

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