Winter Natural History Mysteries

Now that it’s officially cold and blustery outside, it’s tempting to stay indoors all the time and wait until spring to visit your favorite nature areas and beaches. But there’s always something to see on the trails, shores, and ponds around Nantucket. Since everything gets taken back to bare bones in the winter, it’s a great time to notice background details that you might have missed. Often, you’ll encounter a mystery that requires further research, such as animal or insect signs, or strange new objects that you wonder about. In this blog post I’ve included photos of a few winter mysteries you might encounter. Please feel free to comment on these photos if you know what they are!

Can you name these unusual fungi often found in moors and dunes on Nantucket in winter?

Can you name these unusual fungi often found in moors and dunes on Nantucket in winter?

This "witches broom" deformity is uncommon on Nantucket--anyone know why?

This “witches broom” deformity on high bush blueberry is uncommon on Nantucket–anyone know why?

Fortunately, there are some great books focusing on winter natural history that will help you in your detective work. Some of my all-time favorites are listed below. So, for those cold winter days when darkness falls around 4:30, or it’s blowing a gale with slushy snowballs pelting you in the face, it’s time to snag one of these books from the library or a local bookstore and tuck yourself away indoors.

Some Great Natural History Reads for Winter:

Winter World, by Bernd Heinrich. This is a very engaging book that discusses the unusual adaptations of animals to winter conditions. From turtles to chipmunks, animals have some impressive ways of staying alive during the coldest months. Never boring, Heinrich has a particular talent for asking good questions, doing his own exploring, and explaining the answers in an accurate and interesting way. He’s written a number of other great books, too, such as Ravens in Winter and Mind of the Raven.

Stokes Guide to Nature in Winter, by Donald Stokes. This book is filled with short entries accompanied by pen and ink illustrations, exploring a variety of natural history topics through the winter. It’s great background reading, and ideal if you like your information in small packages. Read a bit of this book each day as the winter passes; by spring you’ll be see the animals and plants around you in a whole new light.

Nature Journaling by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth. This book, and others by the same author, give ideas and instruction for naturalists who want to record their natural history experiences. It’s a great way to learn how to encapsulate your memories. The authors include drawings and field notes that will encourage you to jot down your own finds. Even if just a bunch of  penciled notes and sketches in a dog-eared Rite-in-the-Rain notebook, these memories are fun to revisit years later. And if you really get into it, detailed sketches and watercolors can be a great way to while away a wintry indoors afternoon.

What animal made these neatly arranged rows of holes in the bark of this oak tree?

What animal made these neatly arranged rows of holes in the bark of this oak tree?

Anybody have other favorite nature books that are great for winter reading? Please post a comment with your favorite books to share.

This entry was posted in Natural History, Nature Books, Nature Journaling, Winter and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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