This weekend's warm weather has created an abundance of wildlife activity around the sanctuary. Saturday morning's bird walk was full of bird song - mostly chickadees and titmice with a few robins, white-throated sparrows, and juncos filling out the chorus. The ice has begun to melt from the surface of Bechtel Lake and Lost Pond, exposing some open water along the south-facing shorelines. Hikers on Saturday afternoon spotted one of the muskrats swimming through the band of open water in Betchel Lake.
In addition to the mammal and avian activity, there was a garter snake spotted right in front of the naturalist's cottage. The little guy was sunning himself on the flat rocks making up the walkway. The picture above is of a different garter snake peeking out from a rock crevice last summer.
The garter snake wasn't too much of a surprise since temps were in the 60's and I've seen garter snakes as late into the fall as early November when temperatures can be much cooler. The biggest surprise of the day was a painted turtle seen sunning itself on top of a log over the ice at Lost Pond. He was spotted by pair of hikers in the mid-afternoon sun. What a treat it was for them to see this creature so early in the year. We normally wouldn't expect to see a painted turtle until late March or early April. This turtle even beat the spring peepers out of hibernation! If moderate temperatures continue to persist, keep your ears perked for the "jinglebell" sounds of the spring peepers in the coming weeks.
-Adam Zorn, Naturalist