Sunday, November 27, 2022

November Almanac

Northern Shrike

Every month, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies publishes what we can expect to find outside in the month ahead. All November I meant to review what I have and have not found outside and finally today I have done so. I have found and documented more than I could find in my archives, though. I'm still reviewing thousands of photos. I've concocting a shoot list of stuff I need to do better or more completely.

Northern Shrikes
The Northern Shrike is a hoot. It is a carnivorous songbird. It is also well known by other birds. Whenever one would appear in the brush near the bird feeders, the chickadees sounded a very recognizable alarm and all the birds would disappear. Then the shrike would sit in the feeder tree and wait. I never saw it kill a bird, thank goodness.

Keystone plants and soft landings
Heather Holm

Soft Landings
I never knew how important this is, even though I know the life cycle of lepidoptera. I don't have any oaks on my land, but I have acres of soft landings!

American Mink

Well, it's not. It's an American Mink, which I see quite often winter and summer. I've only managed to poorly capture one in brown coat, although I have seen it in white more times than in brown. 

Snowshoe hare tracks

Snowshoe Hares
There are no rabbits in northern Vermont. We only have hares. I've seen quite a few, including a few that live with me here. Photos of them? Forget about it!



John cooking up his chanterelles.

John loved these. We went out hunting for them and he would cook them up. I never developed a taste for them and don't understand people's excitement about them. 

Green turkey tails

Blue turkey tails

Orange and brown turkey tails

Blue and brown turkey tails

A tree covered in turkey tails

Turkey Tails
These are very common fungi in the woods that I love to find. You never know what color you'll discover. These are the only colors I have found.

Christmas Fern sori

Christmas Fern
I have no idea why I only took photos of Christmas fern spores, but I definitely have to get out and take photos of this common and beautiful evergreen fern.

Rock Polypody

Rock Polypody
Another lovely common evergreen fern that grows on rocks and hillsides. So that's where I find it: on the cliffs above the house.

Oriental Bittersweet

Oriental Bittersweet
Beware! This is quarantined in Vermont and New Hampshire (the only states I have looked at). It is extremely invasive and chokes trees to death. I should have taken a context photo to show you what this looked like in New Hampshire where I found it. I have only seen it once in Vermont: at a friend's farm! I scolded him roundly for it. He had brought it from Massachusetts because it is "beautiful."  He even gave it away in Christmas wreaths that he made and distributed to people who did not know what it was. I don't know how, or if, you can get rid of it. If you have it, research and destroy it if possible. Plant American bittersweet instead. 

December comes this week. Whew, the year went by quickly. I promise myself to do the December post this week as soon as VTEcostudies publishes their almanac. Donna Long has already published her December almanac for Pennsylvania here.



  1. I so enjoy rambling with you in the North country. Thank you very much and Aloha from Honolulu

  2. I have been fortunate to see Northern Shrike in northern Ohio a few
    times in the winter when they come down from Canada. Saw one get a mouse and spear it onto a briar. What a treat. I so enjoy your photos and the info of the flora and fauna.

  3. That bird looks so cute with the head slightly turning sideway. The vibe is so good.

  4. I have never seen a shrike, though we live rurally...maybe we are too far south. We have a lot of oak trees in our yard, and i try to help seedlings 'take hold'...and I stake them to not mow over them...and of course we rarely take the mower into our woodsy area.
    Last fall we had a neighbor's tree come crashing into our was covered in that bittersweet invader...what thick vines it had. took me hours to get that mess off the downed tree so we could clean it up.

    Virginia creeper can do the same thing too a lesser degree...


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