Wild Neighbors: Antlers, Feathers & Paws Unveiled

Welcome to The Earthy Alchemist’s first installment of “Wild Neighbors: Antlers, Feathers & Paws Unveiled,” where we embark on a captivating journey into the enchanting world of wildlife thriving right on our doorstep at Marleywood, nestled in central New Hampshire. No need for hiking boots or mosquito netting, and leave your pack behind – just grab a tasty beverage, sit back, and let’s set out on an extraordinary adventure!

I’m beyond thrilled to share with you the hidden stories and mesmerizing visuals captured through the lens of our trail cameras and my camera. Every time we retrieve the camera cards, I am filled with awe at the privileged glimpses I get of the secret lives of our “Wild Neighbors.” The woods are teeming with wonder, and together, we will uncover the magic that lies just beyond our doorsteps – a realm where wildlife thrives, and the spirit of nature dances freely.

A bear walking up to our house one morning through the berry field

Find a cozy spot to nestle into and prepare to be immersed in the captivating world of wild America. Here on the mountain, we share our lives with a magnificent array of wildlife, including moose, bears, bobcats, deer, coyotes, porcupines, turkeys, raccoons, foxes, rabbits, groundhogs, and a myriad of birds. With each passing season, we have the delightful opportunity to witness the growth of adorable babies, and it’s especially thrilling to see so many twins being born on our mountain sanctuary. So, let the sights and stories unfold as we venture into the heart of Marleywood, discovering the marvels of the wilderness that surrounds us.

Black bear

Let’s start with the majestic Black Bear (Ursus americanus) – a symbol of untamed wilderness and strength. These powerful creatures roam our woods with grace, and their presence is a true testament to the resilience of nature. One fascinating fact about black bears is their remarkable ability to hibernate for long periods without eating, drinking, urinating, or defecating.

Their metabolic rate reduces significantly during this time, allowing them to survive on fat reserves. This awe-inspiring behavior is nature’s way of coping with food scarcity during winter. When we go out with our dogs walking in the woods, I usually attach bear bells to them so that they make a little more noise than usual as we walk on our trails. If I walk alone – I tend to sing and make my presence known, not wanting to startle any wildlife around.

What a rack!

Next, we encounter the towering Moose (Alces alces) powerfully galloping through the woods. These magnificent animals are known for their impressive antlers, spanning up to six feet wide! The moose’s antlers are shed and regrown annually, with each set becoming larger and more intricate than the last. This constant renewal symbolizes life’s cyclical nature and the wild’s ever-changing beauty.

However, encountering a moose in the wild is not without its risks. Despite their seemingly calm demeanor, moose can be unpredictable and territorial. It’s important to keep a safe distance and admire them from afar, respecting their natural habitat. The awe-inspiring sight of a moose in its natural environment serves as a reminder of nature’s grandeur and our responsibility to protect and preserve these incredible creatures for future generations to admire.

The graceful Deer (Odocoileus spp.), whose superpower makes any forest look like a fashion runway. With their elegant leaps and graceful gait, they have inspired many runway walks in the animal kingdom. These beauties thrive in our woodlands, gracefully maneuvering through the dense underbrush, effortlessly leaping over fallen logs, and blending perfectly with their surroundings. It is truly a sight to behold as they navigate the forest with poise and elegance.

Many times, we have witnessed the heartwarming scene of a newborn fawn stumbling after their mama. These precious babies are adorned with delicate white spots, creating a striking contrast against their reddish-brown coats. It’s a true testament to the wonders of nature, watching these tiny creatures take their very first steps and eagerly follow their mother’s lead. As they grow, we see them develop into magnificent individuals, and it’s always a joy to witness the bucks as they proudly showcase their impressive antlers, a symbol of their strength and maturity.

The deer truly captivate us with their beauty and grace. They remind us of the marvels that abound in the natural world and the significance of safeguarding and appreciating the diverse ecosystems that sustain their existence. Whether we encounter them in the wild or simply admire their elegance from afar, the Deer will forever hold a special place in our hearts as symbols of resilience, enchantment, and the innate splendor of the environment.

They never look a the camera when you want them to

Among the shadows, we find the elusive Bobcat (Lynx rufus), a master of stealth and camouflage. These solitary felines are known for their distinctive tufted ears and short, bobbed tails. With a body length ranging from 2 to 4 feet and weighing between 15 to 30 pounds, bobcats may appear small in comparison to their larger feline relatives. However, don’t be fooled by their size, as their strength and agility make them formidable hunters.

A fascinating fact about bobcats is their exceptional hunting skills – they can leap up to 10 feet in pursuit of prey, thanks to their powerful hind legs. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals such as rabbits, squirrels, and mice, but they are also known to prey on larger animals like deer when the opportunity arises. Despite their solitary nature, bobcats have a wide distribution across North America, including the forests and woodlands of New Hampshire. In fact, New Hampshire is home to a significant number of bobcats, to the point where many sightings of these elusive creatures have been reported. However, it’s essential to note that some individuals may mistake bobcats for mountain lions, as the latter also exist in the state, albeit in lesser numbers. The key differences lie in their size and tails, as bobcats can appear imposing until seen next to a mountain lion, an encounter that is a rarity in the wilds of New Hampshire.

Male turkey strutting his stuff on our driveway

In the heart of the wilderness, wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) captivate us with their vibrant plumage and fascinating behaviors. The males, known as toms, proudly display their extravagant feathers, transforming themselves into living works of art. Their flamboyant courtship rituals include a delicate dance, with heads held high, tail feathers fanned out, and wings slightly lowered. This display is both a declaration of dominance and an invitation for the females to admire their beauty.

Beyond their stunning appearance, wild turkeys play a crucial role in the forest ecosystem. Foraging on the forest floor, they help control insect populations by gobbling up insects, grubs, seeds, and berries. Their ability to adapt to various habitats across North America showcases their resilience in the face of challenges such as habitat loss and predation. Wild turkeys remind us of the intricate beauty of the natural world and the importance of preserving biodiversity.

Bluebird in March

The songbirds that grace these woods are a constant source of wonder. From scarlet tanagers to grosbeaks, goldfinches, and bluebirds, their vibrant colors and beautiful songs never cease to amaze me. The hummingbirds are particularly enchanting as they zip through the air, their iridescent feathers glistening in the sunlight.

Sadly, these beloved songbirds are under increasing threats like habitat loss and climate change. It’s crucial that we act now to protect them. By creating bird-friendly environments and reducing harmful chemicals, we can make a meaningful difference. Let’s cherish the beauty and melodies of these feathered wonders and ensure their presence for generations to come.

Finally, not to be forgotten, we glimpse the elusive Coyote (Canis latrans), a symbol of adaptability and survival. These clever creatures are highly resourceful and have successfully adapted to various habitats, including urban environments. Coyotes are the original “foodies” of the animal kingdom – they can eat almost anything! They’re on a never-ending culinary adventure, trying out all the latest “farm-to-forest” delicacies. Coyotes are crucial in controlling rodent populations, maintaining a delicate balance within ecosystems. I am grateful we haven’t come upon any while we are out and about with our dogs, though. I’ve seen what they can do to a fawn.

Looks like the coyote has spotted the camera

As we bid farewell to this unforgettable journey, let us embrace the wisdom of John Muir: “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” With these profound words resonating in our souls, let us embark on a new path of discovery and awe. May the wonders of the natural world continue to reveal themselves to us, enriching our lives and nurturing our spirits. Let’s wander through the enchanted landscapes, embracing the harmony and serenity that nature offers. Together, we can find solace in the wilderness and create lasting memories in the magnificence of the captivating wildlife of Marleywood.

Thank you for joining me on this captivating journey through the enchanting world of “Wild Neighbors: Antlers, Feathers & Paws Unveiled” at Marleywood. I appreciate your time and curiosity in exploring the extraordinary wildlife thriving on our doorstep. This was just a quick glimpse into the wonders of nature here on the mountain. I invite you to return for more fascinating tales and breathtaking visuals as I continue to uncover the hidden wonders of nature. Until next time, embrace the magic of the wild and let your spirits soar. Happy adventuring!

Wordless Wednesday 3-18-2020 — Xine Segalas Creative Arts

A sunset sequence Hebron, New Hampshire July 4, 2018

Wordless Wednesday 3-18-2020 — Xine Segalas Creative Arts

My other blog Xine Segalas Creatives is the place where I focus on my art and photography, so please follow me on that blog as well.