The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spring Quartet

Water Snake: This water snake was in the middle of the trail near one of the streams in the Conant land on March 27. This is the earliest in the year I have ever seen a water snake. It was rather sluggish and did not retreat – it may have been adjusting to the change from months in hibernation. Usually, if a water snake is alarmed but not cornered, it will retreat to the water. If cornered, it will strike.



Leucistic Junco: Tom Brownrigg saw this Junco, with a white patch on the back of its neck, in his yard on March 23 and again on March 25. It is the same species as our normal Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis, but it has a condition called leucism (known in birds, mammals, and reptiles) in which some cells lack the ability to make pigment. It can affect skin, hair, or feathers across the whole body or just in patches. It differs from albinism in many ways, a notable one being that it does not affect the eyes.



Wood Frog: Barack Obama has been credited with bringing new groups into the process of electing a president. I didn’t realize how far it had gone until I came upon a rally in Great Brook Farm State Park, another on Estabrook Road, and yet another in the Towle woods. Hundreds of wood frogs had gathered and were calling repeatedly and insistently for “barack, barack.” Some were focused more on issues than on candidates – these ones were equally insistent but their call was “iraq, iraq,”

Skunk Cabbage: Skunk cabbages have been up for a few weeks now. In most swamp areas the leaves, which appear after the flowers, are now also up. The flowers are partially hidden by a purple-green hood called a spathe. If you look inside the hood you should see a round or oval knob which is pinkish-purple and covered with little yellow flowers. This knob is called a spadix. It ages to a pale yellow and this year I have noticed that something, with different taste buds than mine, is eating them. ∆

All photos by Kay Fairweather

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© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito