Friday, June 28, 2013

Quabbin Bear Video

This black bear wandered in front of a remote camera near the Quabbin
reservoir, earlier this June.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hairy-tailed mole

I saw this little critter a few mornings ago while out walking in Bolton, MA. The hairy-tailed mole, Parascalops breweri, is one of 3 mole species found here. It prefers dry, loose soil in wooded or open habitat. Check out this video of this mole after it ran to the other side of the road and attempted to tunnel to safety:

The other two species are the eastern mole, which looks similar but has a naked tail, and the star-nosed mole, which has a longer hairy tail and tentacles on its nose. The latter species lives in wet areas and is semi-aquatic.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Also from Welch Pond Bog in Bolton, MA. Little jewels of round-leaved (I believe) sundews, Drosera rotundifolia. Insects stick to the glandular hairs, then the hairs wrap around the prey. These plants are apparently known to attract distinct insect species for food and for pollination, with little overlap. And, while carnivory results in better seed production, the plant can reproduce in the absence of either prey or pollinators, by tubers, axillary buds, or leaf buds.

Pitcher plants

From Welch Pond Bog in Bolton, MA. The first photo shows a rosette of pitcher plant leaves, which are fused to form a water holding vessel (the pitchers). The bright red venation and nectar glands on these leaves attract insect prey, and the downward pointing hairs on the insides of the leaves encourage descent of prey into the depths, where they are digested. Like other carnivorous plants, the pitcher plant does photosynthesize, and carnivory is not required for its survival. It does, however, help the plant grow larger and reproduce better.

I've read that coloration is determined by sun exposure, with greater sun exposure resulting in more red and shadier conditions resulting in more green. But that cannot be the whole story, because some rosettes had both red and green pitchers. Perhaps age of leaf matters. In this rosette, the younger looking leaf on the left is greener.

The second photo shows a blooming pitcher plant rosette. This one also has both red and green leaves. Pollination by insects is required for reproduction, which would seem to put the plant in an interesting bind. Are the insect species which pollinate this plant also attracted to the pitchers, or do they avoid them for some reason. It doesn't seem to be a good idea to kill your pollinating resources, but I suppose we humans do that too, and we've been pretty successful. Perhaps it's a good thing the pitcher plant does not reproduce well without eating insects. If it eats too many insects then it won't reproduce as well, resulting in fewer pitcher plants and recovering local insect populations.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Mystery wetland photo of a different sort

What happened here? Came upon this very interesting scene yesterday in a pond in Shirley, MA (in an old flooded cranberry bog). 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mystery Plant

This was photographed yesterday in a bog habitat in Bolton, MA. Anyone
want to take a stab at it?