Sunday, October 21, 2012

Book Tour Big 350: We break 250!

From New Canaan, Connecticut, Kenn writes: If you've been following our story so far, you know that we're several days into the book tour for the Kaufman Field Guide to Nature of New England, officially published last Tuesday.  We are speaking and signing books every day for 15 days, traveling through all 6 New England states.  To make the trip more fun and more interesting, our friends at the publisher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) suggested that we should take on a challenge: identify at least 350 species of living things in the wild in New England before the tour ends.  Kimberly and I always like a challenge, so we've been working on this as time permits, dashing out to areas of good habitat to look for more plants and animals for the list. 

Fall colors seem to be near their peak in southern Connecticut right now. The maples are ablaze with red, with the oaks adding darker reds and browns and the birches adding yellow to the mix. Traveling around New England at this season is hardly a rough assignment.
Late October is a wonderful season for fall colors in New England, but it's not the prime time to find the widest variety of nature here.  Most flowers have finished blooming for the season, most butterflies have ceased flying, other insects in general are past their main period of activity, and some of the birds already have departed for the south.  If the weather had turned cold a week ago, we might be struggling to find enough variety to meet our goal.  But we've been lucky: the weather is unseasonably warm, so we've found several kinds of butterflies, frogs, and other half-hardy creatures. 

Kimberly spotted this Eastern Newt in a small pond at the Greenwich Audubon Center. Warm weather has kept the amphibians active; we heard Spring Peepers calling at several places.

Yesterday (as reported in a previous post) we saw a rare Wood Sandpiper and other choice things in Rhode Island, then traveled to southwest Connecticut to visit the Greenwich Audubon Center.  We were lucky to stay overnight at the center, so we got out to hike around there this morning before going to a guest appearance on BirdCallsRadio.  Later we went on to New Canaan, where we are giving a program at the public library tomorrow. Walking around the trails at the New Canaan Nature Center, we saw several new things for the trip list, including Wood Ducks, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and White-tailed Deer.
At the New Canaan Nature Center in Connecticut, we heard the odd catlike yowl of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and tracked it down for a look. Sapsuckers are migrating right now, so we had hoped to catch up with one.
As Kimberly reported two nights ago, we were at about 175 species before yesterday, but we hadn't had time to count up again until tonight.  Our trip tally now stands at 260!  Getting to 350 is looking more reasonable now, but it won't necessarily be a walk in the park.  We've used up most of the common and easy birds, trees, shrubs, mammals, and hardy insects, and we'll have to work for every addition from now on.  But with 9 days to rack up another 90 species, we think we can do it!  We'll keep you posted on our progress. 

4 comments:

  1. Sweet! Not sure how I've never seen one of those newts in 8 years of living in PA/NJ now :-(

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    1. Rob, I was surprised to see it, shocked that I actually caught it, and happy that Kenn had his camera and got decent pics of it!

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  2. Good luck, Kenn and Kimberly! I'd be very curious to hear how many winter finches you end up spotting. I'm guessing that you already have Pine Siskin and Evening Grosbeak on your list.

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    1. Thanks, Kevin! We've seen a number of siskins but no Evening Grosbeaks - yet!

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