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white oak grain


Westborough’s winter landscape offers plenty of visual interest, such as the tight grain of this large fallen white oak at the Bowman Conservation Area. The grain is still visible after many New England winters. The circular pattern in the lower left corner of the photo is where a small branch once emerged from the trunk.

January 18, 2008, Page 18, 19


By Annie Reid
Westborough Community Land Trust

Prepare to notice nature in 2008 by taking the 2007 Nature Notes quiz

An old-fashioned New England winter has descended on Westborough, complete with deep snow in December, a white Christmas, and near-zero temperatures followed by an early January thaw. But the days are already getting longer, and we can look forward to enjoying nature throughout 2008.

The 2007 Nature Notes quiz is designed to help you plan ahead for what you might see in Westborough’s natural environment in the coming year. It will remind you of the plants and wildlife featured in this column in 2007, and it highlights the best times of year to watch for them.

How do you proceed? Below you'll find a list of short descriptions of plants and animals – no mushrooms this time – from Nature Notes columns published in the News in 2007. Match these descriptions with the names from the list of possible answers that follows.

To check your answers, consult the Nature Notes Answer Key on page 19. The key also notes the 2007 column that's relevant to each answer. You can reread these past columns – and review color photos – on the Westborough Community Land Trust web site at http://www.westboroughlandtrust.org/nn/nnindex.php

If you – as an individual, family, science class, or other group – get all the answers correct (with no peeking!), or miss only one or two answers, email your name to us at NatureNotes@westboroughlandtrust.org. We'll publish the names of top scorers in our Nature Notes Honor Roll in a future issue of the Westborough News.

Match these descriptions with answers from the list below:

1. These birds visiting Westborough in the fall from farther north can understand chickadees’ communications about predators.

2. You’ll start to hear the loud drumming of these, our smallest woodpeckers, in February or March, as their breeding season gets under way.

3. You may get a whiff of these great diggers around Valentine’s Day, when they come out of their burrows to look for a mate.

4. When these birds reappear in our cattail marshes in March, you know spring is here.

5. Look for these yellow flowers brightening swamps and streams in April. You can sometimes find them growing right out of the water.

6. Watch for these small blue butterflies in April. In the previous year, their caterpillars were tended and protected by ants, which like the sweet liquid from the caterpillars’ honey glands.

7. Before the trees leaf out, look in woods and fields for this, our earliest native wild violet, with its purple blossoms and hairy, oval leaves.

8. In May, be on the lookout for this weedy, invasive plant – a new one in town – and remove it from your property. Its leaves taste and smell like garlic.

9. Check swampy areas for this wild violet in mid-May.

10. In June when roses bloom, notice how this invasive wild white rose has made itself at home in environments all over town.

11. When you’re in wooded areas with dead trees, see if you can spot this large woodpecker, which is about the size of a robin and is becoming more common in our area.

12. Keep an eye out for this unusual-looking wild violet in dry, sandy places in May. Its deeply cut leaves look almost like claws.

13. When you notice a large orange butterfly in summer, it might be one of these, even though it looks very much like a monarch butterfly.

14. Listen for the loud chorus of calls from this, our largest and most water-loving frog, in June and July. You can see these frogs at the water’s edge from April until October, when they bury themselves in the mud at the bottom of a pond for the winter.

15. Recognize these noisy birds by their unique song, which typically includes a “meow” as well as musical sounds. Listen for them from May through September.

16. Watch for this large, mostly black butterfly, which may come to lay eggs on parsley in your garden or on some wild Queen Anne’s lace. Look for its green, black, and yellow striped “parsley worm” caterpillars throughout the summer.

17. In late summer, look in warm, shallow, well-fed ponds for round, jelly-filled colonies of these small, simple animals with tentacles.

18. Enjoy and appreciate these flying insects as they pollinate flowers and many important crops. A mysterious disorder threatens to wipe out them out.

19. In late summer, check Westborough’s shallow ponds for the small yellow flowers of these small carnivorous plants. These floating plants – and others with purple flowers – prey on insects and tiny water creatures, capturing them in small underwater pods with a trap door and a hair trigger.

20. Watch for this noisy bird, and listen for its rattling cry, around our ponds from March through October. It dives into the water for fish and nests in underground burrows in sandy banks.

21. Keep an eye out for this small orange butterfly, which is fiery both in its looks and its feisty nature. You might spot it anytime from April to October.

22. You’re more likely to see this large animal – or its tracks – now than in past decades. It thrives in the “edge” environments between woods and open areas, and human development has been creating more of these environments.

23. Look for this medium-sized frog, which can sometimes be confused with our largest and most water-loving frog.

24. On quiet winter walks, watch for this, our smallest winter bird, in pine, spruce, or aspen trees as small groups of them move constantly, searching for dormant insects and insect eggs.

Possible answers:

- American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana, Lithobates catesbeianus)
- American copper (Lycaena phlaeas)
- Belted kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)
- Birdfoot violet (Viola pedata)
- Downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
- Eastern black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)
- Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
- Golden-crowned kinglet (Regulus satrapa)
- Gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)
- Green frog (Rana clamitans)
- Honeybee (Apis mellifera)
- Jelly ball animals (Pectinatella magnifica)
- Marsh blue violet (Viola cucullata)
- Marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris)
- Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
- Northern downy violet (Viola fimbriatula, Viola sagittata var. ovata)
- Red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)
- Red-breasted nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)
- Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
- Spring azure (Celastrina ladon)
- Striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
- Swollen bladderwort (Utricularia inflata)
- Viceroy (Basilarchia archippus, Limenitis archippus)
- White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Go to Answer Key on page 19.

Nature Notes is printed in The Westborough News on behalf of WCLT (Westborough Community Land Trust). Report your own local nature sightings (or check out what others have seen) on WCLT's Facebook page! Find more information about enjoying nature in Westborough, including trail maps and a calendar of events, at the WCLT website

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