Friday, January 20, 2017

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike at Tarrywile Park in Danbury on Tues., Jan. 24th and Thurs., Jan 26th.
From I-84 take the airport exit.
At end of ramp turn right.
Follow through traffic lights and at stop sign turn onto Southern Blvd. ( It will be a sharp right turn).
Follow small brown signs for Tarrywile Park.
The park will be on the right, across from Immaculate H.S.
Meet in lower parking lot at 8:30am.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Great Horned Owl



The Great Horned Owl is the most powerful and largest of the North American owls.  Its wingspan is 4-5’ from tip to tip with the females being larger than the males.  It is named after the feather tufts resembling horns on its head which are often mistaken for ears.  Its real ears are covered by special feathers located behind the facial dish feathers.  These allow it to hear the slightest sound up to 900 feet away.  A fierce predator, it has the most diverse diet of all the owls.  This ranges from large raptors including other horned owls, to insects.  It is one of the few animals that will eat skunks.  It mainly hunts by watching and waiting on a perch.  When its prey passes, it will quietly swoop down, extend its 4X8” talons and apply a grip onto its victim that can range up to 28 pounds.  This usually severs its spine.  They start nesting in January by lining an abandoned nest with feathers.  Usually the female incubates the 1 – 4 eggs for 30 – 37 days while her mate brings her food.  Six weeks after hatching, the owlets will explore the nest area and by 9 weeks they can fly.  Their parents will continue to feed and care for the fledglings for months, often as late as October.  Great Horned owls take life-long mates and together vigorously defend their territories especially in the winter and fall when the young are most vulnerable.  They are considered nocturnal with most of their activity being at dusk and just before dawn.  However when food is short, especially in the winter, they will continue to hunt during the daylight hours.  Known to live up to 28 years, this bird is the symbol of wisdom and good luck to all that see it. (Photo:  NH Fish & Game)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The National Bird

Haliaeetus leucocephalus is the scientific name for America’s National Bird. It means a sea (halo) eagle (aeetos) with a white (leukos) head (cephalus). At one time, bald meant white not hairless. It is called a sea eagle because of its preference for eating fish although it does eat carrion, smaller birds and rodents. Eagles differ from other birds of prey mainly by their larger size, more powerful build and heavier head and beak. The average adult bald eagle measures approximately 3 feet in length (males are smaller); females have a wingspan of 7 feet while males average 6 feet. Although they only weigh 8-9 lbs (male) 10-14 lbs (female), they can lift about 4 pounds. They live for 20 – 30 years. Eagles mate for life and an established pair may use the same nest for many years. They lay 1-3 eggs. Their chicks fledge in about 20 weeks but don’t reach sexual maturity and their full adult plumage for 4 – 5 years. The Bald Eagle is native only to North America. This is one of the reasons, along with its majestic beauty, great strength, and long life that it was chosen as our National Emblem on June 20, 1782. Second runner up was the American Turkey. (Blog originally published 1/22/11)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Women's Hiking Oct 25 & 27 - Aldrich Park

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike this week (Oct 25 & 27) at Aldrich Park in Ridgefield.
From Rt. 35 take Farmingville Rd.
Follow until you reach New Rd.  Turn left onto New Rd.
Parking area will be on the left.
Meet at 8:30am.
Contact info or questions:  Mendy Polchinski at mmpolchinski@gmail.com or 203-241-1770 cell.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Why the Fall Colors

The days are growing shorter and New England comes alive with color. Why such great color here? The answer lies in our mixed deciduous hardwood forests and our climate. First - Why Color? Leaves are the food factory of a plant. During the summer the leaf's green chlorophylls are working hard to produce food for the plant's survival. They are so abundant, they mask out the other pigments in the leaf. But chlorophylls are very unstable and they must be constantly replaced. As the sunlight diminishes, they are replaced at a slower and slower pace. Eventually the other pigments called caroteniods start to become unmasked. These appear yellow or orange or many hues in-between. The birch or beech trees have an abundance of these.
As time progresses less water and nutrients can enter or exit the leaf. This causes a backlog of chemicals. In some plants, these trapped chemicals, plus light causes anthocyanins to form. These create the reds and purples. The brighter the light during this period, the greater number of anthocyanins are produced and the brighter the color. Some plants like sumacs have so much anthocyanins that they mask the caroteniods completely. While others like the sugar maple slowly produce it so that their leaves first turn yellow, orange then red. But some like the birch can't produce it at all.
Dry sunny days followed by cool dry nights enable the above processes to create the brightest colors. The best variety of color comes from hardwood deciduous forests which contain a wide assortment of trees. New England's climate and forests meet both requirements for world class fall foliage.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Women's Hiking Group - Oct 4th

The DC Women's Hiking Group will hike this week, Tuesday, Oct 4 and Thursday, Oct 6th at Tarrywille Park in Danbury:
From I-84 take the airport exit.
At end of ramp turn right.
Follow through traffic lights and at stop sign turn onto Southern Blvd. ( It will be a sharp right turn).
Follow small brown signs for Tarrywile Park.
The park will be on the right, across from Immaculate H.S.
Meet in lower parking lot at 8:30am.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Andromeda’s Story



To the ancients the sky was their calendar.  They used it to predict the changing of the seasons by watching the patterns of stars as they moved across the sky.  How better to remember these sequences, than by a story.  Andromeda’s story includes five autumn constellations.  It begins with her parents, King Cepheus & Queen Cassiopeia of Aethiopia.  Cassiopeia, already known for her extreme vanity, declared that her daughter was more beautiful than the Sea Nymphs.   Greatly insulted, the Sea Nymphs turned to the God of the Sea, Poseidon for revenge.  He sent a great monster Cetus to ravage the coast of Aethiopia.  A desperate Cepheus, consulted the Oracle of Apollo who declared the only way to stop the carnage, was to sacrifice Andromeda to Cetus.  Stripped naked the poor girl was chained to a rock to await her fate.  As chance would have it, Perseus was flying by on the Great Flying Horse, Pegasus.  He was returning from slaying the snake haired Medusa and thus was still carrying Hades’ magical Helm of Invisibility, Athena’s Mirrored Shield,  and a sword forged by the God Hephaetus.  He easily slayed Cetus and immediately took Andromeda for his wife.  Together they had seven sons and two daughters and are credited as being the ancestors of the Persians. After her death, according to a Greek play, Athena placed her in the sky along with her hero husband.  And thus they lived "Happily Ever After".  Photo:  http://www.buzzle.com/articles/andromeda-constellation.html