Earth Matters

Every two weeks, the Hitchcock Center publishes a column, "Earth Matters: Notes on the Nature of the Valley," in The Daily Hampshire Gazette. Writers include Hitchcock staff and board members, former board members, presenters in our Community Programs series, and friends of the Center. Look for the column at the end of Section C of the weekend Gazette or on their website. We will keep a complete list on this site, so if you miss seeing a column in the newspaper, or want to see it again, come here at any time.

Keeping nature intact for all in the CT River Valley

By Laurie Sanders

If you’re interested in natural history, the Connecticut River Valley is a great place to live. The combination of geology, hydrology, human history and climate create a remarkable diversity of habitats. In Northampton, where most of my conservation work has focused, you can explore 40 different types of natural communities — from rocky summits and cliffs to open marshes, floodplain forests and rivers.

Published in Earth Matters on November 21, 2020.

An inside look at a loon

By Katie Koerten

During my stint as a bird rehabilitation intern in Vermont years ago, we had some memorable moments. Once, someone brought in a juvenile bald eagle that had been shot near the Canadian border. We were horrified at the crime of shooting such a bird, but excited to be in charge of its care. It made a full recovery and we released it at the Connecticut River, where it promptly flew across into New Hampshire. But the experience that made perhaps the biggest impression on me was the time we got a call about a common loon that had been found in a parking lot, listless and unable to fly.

Published in Earth Matters on October 30, 2020.

Spiders right at home with you

By Joshua Rose

The back door is their favorite. Not that they avoid the front. I see a few there. The front is just too clean, bright and sunny. Not enough hiding places. Plus, we humans are always blundering through, destroying their webs.

Published in Earth Matters on October 17, 2020.

IPM works with the ecosystem — not against it

By Michael Dover

“Integrated” refers both to using a variety of methods to deal with a pest problem, and to considering the pest as part of an ecosystem — an interdependent system of species.

Published in Earth Matters on October 2, 2020.

Tiny blackpoll warblers are champions of long-distance flight

By David Spector

In June 1919, aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown flew in a Vickers Vimy airplane from Newfoundland to Ireland in what is often considered the first nonstop transatlantic flight. If instead of heading east they had flown south, they would have traversed an even longer transatlantic route across the western Atlantic Ocean to northern South America. They would not, though, have been the first to accomplish that flight.

Published in Earth Matters on September 19, 2020.

Proliferation of plants feeds the food chain

By Lawrence J. Winship

Because of the pandemic, I’ve spent much more time in our gardens this year. There is so much to see and do on our little half-acre lot. Over the decades, trees have filled in and gardens expanded and, through neglect, much has “gone wild.” New England gardeners know all too well what happens when you take your watchful eye off bittersweet, wild grape and multiflora rose. Add in hundreds of tree seedlings and you get the picture.

Published in Earth Matters on September 5, 2020.

For the love of lampreys

By John Sinton

Consider the sea lamprey. Who couldn’t love such a face? With their ancient heritage, their complex lives and their glorious culinary history, these jawless, boneless fish are among the most fascinating of creatures. They live among us, out of sight, wanting only to feed and migrate to the ocean.

Published in Earth Matters on August 31, 2020.

Nature blossoms in our retreat

By Christine Hatch For the Gazette

Did spring seem unusually long this year? Did you notice the miracle of new plants you’d never seen before pushing out of the earth and into your garden? When stay-at-home orders rained down we were on the off-ramp of winter, last year’s dead plants still plastered to compacted earth, and we had nowhere to go but — here. And so we did. We looked outside and registered anew our reduced “home range.”

Published in Earth Matters on August 8, 2020.

Welcoming fresh faces to the great outdoors

By Kari Blood For the Gazette

Do you enjoy being outdoors — hiking, fishing, watching birds or paddling a kayak? Think about how you came to experience that for the very first time as a child or a teen, or even later in life. Like most of us, you probably didn’t head out all by yourself: Someone else brought you there, showed you where to go and what to do. They shared their love of being outdoors with you. Whether this person was family, friend or teacher, they were part of your community.

Published in Earth Matters on July 24, 2020.

The secret of the well-equipped naturalist

By David Spector

How might  you equip yourself for an expedition to observe nature? The answers vary with where you’re going, the targeted aspects of nature, how long you expect to be outside, your level of interest and expertise, the time of year, etc. Here are some of my answers for day trips in western Massachusetts.

Published in Earth Matters on July 11, 2020.
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