The Outside Story

Summer skaters
Column
June 14, 2017

Summer skaters

By Declan McCabe

Scanning a sunlit pond floor for crayfish, I was distracted by seven dark spots gliding in a tight formation. Six crisp oval shadows surrounded a faint, less distinct silhouette. The shapes slid slowly and then, with a rapid motion, accelerated before slowing…

The fisher: elusive, fast, a porcupine’s worst nightmare
Column
June 8, 2017

The fisher: elusive, fast, a porcupine’s worst nightmare

By Joe Rankin

The “fisher cat” is neither of those things. Doesn’t fish. Isn’t a cat. In fact, a lot more of what people think they know about the fisher is wrong. It’s almost like we made up the animal.

The fisher, Pekania pennanti, is…

Twilight singer: The Hermit Thrush
Column
May 31, 2017

Twilight singer: The Hermit Thrush

By Susan Shea

If you take a walk in the woods on a summer evening, you may be treated to the ethereal, flute-like song of the hermit thrush, often the only bird still singing at dusk (and the first bird to sing in the morning)….

On mammal teeth
Column
May 24, 2017

On mammal teeth

By Tim Traver

When my daughter was 4, she once asked, “Do mice get cavities?” We were coming back from the dentist, so teeth were on her mind and so were mice, since her pet mouse had recently escaped. Later in the day, she asked…

The great duckweed migration
Column
May 19, 2017

The great duckweed migration

By Declan McCabe

The word “migration” conjures images of vast wildebeest or pronghorn herds crossing plains in unison, or hummingbirds traversing the Gulf of Mexico. When charismatic birds leave our New England forests, migration is typically the explanation. But how can a group of plants…

A precious stone with wings
Column
May 11, 2017

A precious stone with wings

By Carolyn Lorié

One day last spring, I pulled into a parking lot in Thetford and saw a flash of brilliant red. Instantly, I knew it was a male scarlet tanager. He was perched in a cluster of bushes and everything around him — the…

Wild leeks
Column
May 3, 2017

Wild leeks

By Virginia Barlow

The white bulbs of wild leeks, also called ramps (especially in the South), can be eaten year round, but it’s the early leaves that are most appreciated. In pre-freezer days, ramps were the first greens available after five or so months of…

Drumroll, please
Column
April 19, 2017

Drumroll, please

By Bryan Pfeiffer

Trees speak many languages, their leaves whooshing in summer and trunks creaking in winter. At the onset of spring, trees become sounding boards for courtship. Before the thrushes and warblers and sparrows arrive to sing from branches and boughs, woodpeckers kick off…

Return of the missing lynx
Column
April 12, 2017

Return of the missing lynx

By Susan Shea

In the northern forest of New England, a big gray cat crouches silently in a dense thicket of fir along a snowshoe hare run. Its pointed ears, topped with long tufts of black hair, twitch as it listens intently. The cat’s face…