Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Season of Discovery

Naturalists and birders look forward to the cooler months of the year when large flocks of migrant cranes and waterfowl stop to rest and feed in their region, when irruptive species move south to join (and compete with) winter residents, when rare vagrants turn up on reservoirs, at refuges or in backyards and when a wide variety of raptors are especially conspicuous in the barren trees and across the bleak farmlands.  However, for most of us, new discoveries in nature are more likely to occur during the warmer months of the year.

Surveying their property or meandering through local nature preserves, veteran and amateur naturalists observe a tremendous diversity of plants and animals; new personal discoveries most often involve wildflowers, fungi, insects and other invertebrates but might also include certain amphibians, reptiles and small songbirds (warblers, vireos, flycatchers) that theretofore had not been identified by that individual.

Such discoveries, however meager, add to our appreciation of the complexity and diversity of regional ecosystems.  Hopefully, they also fuel our commitment to preserving and protecting each and every species; indeed, all species on our planet, including humans, play vital roles in the health of our natural environment.