Compiled by Eamon Corbett
Our second issue of the Nature on Campus newsletter covers the first two weeks of October (with some belated reports from the end of September). It’s now definitely fall, and the trees are changing color, but there’s still plenty of wildlife around! Some highlights:
A Barred Owl was seen in the daytime on September 23rd roosting near the Barker Center, according to a photo posted on the English Department Instagram. This is in addition to a probable Great Horned Owl outside Leverett on September 30th, and another large owl (potentially also a Great Horned) near PBHA in the yard on October 7th. There seem to be plenty of owls around—keep an eye out for them! Corey Husic will be leading a Naturalist Club trip to look for owls in the yard this Saturday (10/17) at 2:30pm, email me or him (firstname.lastname@example.org) for details!
Outside Kirkland at night on October 6th I was startled to see two large Raccoons practically blocking the main entrance to the courtyard. They ambled away, seemingly unconcerned, toward the annex. One seemed somewhat bigger than the other, so given the time of year I am guessing they were probably a mother and a nearly fully-grown cub.
Rounding out the campus mammal list are the familiar Eastern cottontail, brown rat, house mouse, and Eastern gray squirrels.
Speaking of campus mainstays, Red-tailed Hawks can still be since pretty much daily on the South side of the Holyoke Center, and occasionally perched majestically on the spire of Memorial Church. A Wild Turkey was next to Lehman Hall and another (or the same one) was in the community garden, both on the 13th.
After a few days of heavy rains, Tristan Wang reports a fungi bonanza in Harvard Yard on the 2nd, including Bird’s Nest Fungi (Crucibulum sp.) near the herbarium and on Dunster St., Inky Cap Fungi (Coprinus micaceus) in the yard, as well as species of puffball and bracket fungi.
Fall bird migration continues: a small falcon (probably a merlin or kestrel) zipped by over the Science Center Plaza on the 13th, there are reports from Corey Husic and Harold Eyster of a Tennessee Warbler, Blackpoll Warblers, and Swainson’s Thrushes from the MAC quad and the Winthrop Courtyard on October 11th, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler was in Kirkland courtyard on the 14th. Migratory White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos on the night of the 14th are also (sadly) an early sign of the coming winter.
A Mockingbird was loudly singing away on the corner of Dunster and Winthrop Streets (Near Noch’s) on the morning of the 5th. Their distinctive song is a series of phrase, each repeated about 5 times, which are often imitations of other birds (or even human sounds like car alarms!).
Jeff Ott reports a Black-crowned Night-Heron flying over Weeks footbridge at dusk on October 8th.
On the invertebrate side of things, couple of species of dragonflies are still out in force: Autumn Meadowhawks and Green Darners were in the MAC quad on the 11th, seen by Corey Husic.
Hope everyone is having a good fall! Email me any campus nature sightings you have (email@example.com), and I’ll add them to the next issue, at the end of the month.