What You Can See This Weekend
Submitted by Ted Williams on Sat, 02/04/2006 - 18:04.
From Audubon’s Earth Almanac by Ted Williams and compiled in “Wild Moments,” edited by Connie Isbell, Illustrations by John Burgoyne, Storey Publishing, 174 pages. Tasty Trees Now, in the southeast quarter of our nation, large, straight-trunked trees are draped with thorny, cherry-shaped seedballs hard enough to puncture tires. Scrape the tree's corky bark, and you'll smell the reason it is called sweet gum. Scrape harder, and you get tasty chewing gum. Winter Games Once they are glutted on fish, frogs, crayfish, or rodents, the main mission of river otters is sport. In winter they coast down snowbanks, chattering and whistling at their companions, then bound back up and coast again. They maintain holes in the ice through which they extract fish, sometimes with great difficulty because one of their clan, below the surface, has the other end of the fish in its mouth. An otter will pluck a pebble from the bottom of a river or lake, surface with it, drop it, swim under it, catch it on its forehead, flip and turn back to the surface with the pebble still in place, then start the game anew. After years of heavy trapping and habitat loss river otters are making a comeback. Look for them in the Northeast, Northwest, Southwest, upper Lake States, and most of Alaska.