Ames Free Library

"Where the Community Connects"

A Glimpse of Nature

See what’s happening on the grounds of the Ames Free Library or nearby areas with “A Glimpse of Nature.”  Offered by Lorraine Rubinacci, the library's resident naturalist, this weekly photo blog is a gentle reminder to enjoy the wonders that surround us.

A Glimpse of Nature -- What's Left Behind

Snow is forecast for tonight.  As with other recent storms, temperatures will be mild and the flakes will mix with rain.  If we get lucky, by Sunday morning some of the snow will survive long enough to preserve animal tracks from the previous night.  Not too dry, not too warm, not too deep . . . if things are just right, the neighborhood will reveal activities that are normally invisible to us diurnal humans.

A Glimpse of Nature -- Have You Heard?

It began with the tufted titmouse.  As I crossed the library’s parking lot, the bird’s voice caught my attention, which seemed odd knowing that titmice live year-round in Massachusetts.  I probably hear them every day, but this was February 2, the day when winter-weary humans pin their hopes on groundhogs.  With no rodents in sight, I was listening to a “spring” song:  “Here, here!”  The bird wasn’t forecasting the weather.

A Glimpse of Nature - After Dinner

Several readers identified “What Is It! #8” as an owl pellet.  I expected this, but the discovery of a pellet gives me an excuse to delve into a fascinating topic.  

Last April I found this particular pellet under a large pine between Queset House and the garden.  It was 1 ¾ inches long by ⅞ inches wide, compact and lightweight, with a surface layer of gray fur.  Before we look inside, let’s review what pellets are and why birds produce them.  

A Glimpse of Nature - Contest Winners & More


“How lucky are we to have received so many amazing submissions!” exclaimed Megan Tully, Head of Reference & Adult Services at the Ames Free Library. The staff had just voted for their favorite “Picturing Winter” entries . . . and it wasn’t easy! Twenty-seven photographers submitted 108 photos that reflected many ways of seeing winter, especially our theme of “Ice & Snow.” Thanks to all for participating and sharing your talents and perspectives. What fun!

A Glimpse of Nature -- Seeing Patterns

Now that you’ve had some practice finding crustose, foliose, and fruticose lichens, it’s time to fine-tune your observations. Let’s begin with patterns. I urge you to spend some time during the next few weeks learning a few of the most frequently-seen lichen families and familiarizing yourself with their general forms. This post will offer several local examples and two online resources to get you started.


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