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Features (Creature Feature)

Migrant waterfowl arriving in force

Species by species, flocks are arriving from their summer nesting and breeding homes in the north. Some fly our way from as far west as Alaska; others come from the Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada.
    Month by month since August, we’ve been visited by diving ducks: blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, shovelers, pintails and wood ducks, says Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Larry Hindman.
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Squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, deer and bear are making the most of fleeting time

It’s a wild world out there. The wildlife who live among us, often just at the verge of perception, may be their most active this time of year, mating and feeding up for winter, whether in woods or burrows.
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With fewer tree nuts than in recent years, squirrels are going crazy

I’m under attack. Everywhere I look, squirrels are scampering up trees, toting nuts in their mouths, scurrying across my yard and darting in front of my car.
    The word squirrel was borrowed by the Romans from the Greek word skiouros, which means shadow-tailed. Ancient Greek naturalists found their bushy tails remarkable.
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Body snatcher targets mud crabs

When it comes to horror, Mother Nature stands at the top of the class.
    Our Halloween Creature Feature comes from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, where scientists have a horribly resourceful parasite under their microscopes. With devilish ingenuity, it takes over its host’s reproductive system for its own replication.
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Man-made reef alive with seed spat

A new oyster reef lies alongside the Bill Burton Fishing Pier in the Choptank River. Sportsman and Maryland outdoors writer for nearly half a century, Burton retired from the Baltimore Evening Sun and came to Bay Weekly. Over 16 years with us, Burton became increasingly adamant and outspoken about restoring the Chesapeake.
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Then throw your Rock Thoughts into cyberspace

Remember Pet Rocks?    
        The 1970s fad has returned with new legs to Annmarie Garden as a child’s game of hide and seek linked to a global art and collaborative storytelling project called Rock Thoughts.
    Closer to home, Sunderland art teacher Maria Lendacky invited her fourth-graders to add their Rock Thoughts to the 1,500 rocks created worldwide.
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Keep an eye out for these normally reclusive foragers

Driven by the frenzy of breeding season, deer are coming out of the woods.
    From early fall into deep winter, bucks have two things on their minds: breeding and eating — the latter for energy to breed. Normally reclusive, whitetail bucks are out on the prowl. Searching for mates, they leave their thicket lairs and cross open meadows, lawns — and busy roads.
    That’s where deer, humans and vehicles meet.
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Arachnids are out in numbers this time of year

Almost overnight, the way it happens in Sci-Fi movies, spiders have invaded. Webs are spun under the porch light, draped from the mailbox and suspended like chandeliers from every shrub and tree. Walk out and you walk into one.
    The arachnid explosion that ripples across Chesapeake Country in late summer and early fall is what happens when the spiderlings we saw on their mommas’ backs last spring grow up.
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While very hungry, the webworm caterpillar won’t harm your trees

It’s the fall webworm that’s eating your trees from the comfort and security of webby nests.
    The greenish larvae’s appetite is huge and undiscriminating, extending to 636 different species of trees. Redbuds, walnut, hickory, fruit trees and some maples are favorites of these fuzzy worms.
    Late summer through early fall, when the larvae are most active, is prime time to spot webworms chowing down.
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Blessing of the animals draws friends furry and feathered

Companion dogs and cats were this year’s dominant species among those receiving blessings at All Hallows Parish’s traditional Blessing of the Animals. Joining them were four exotics: Moonshine, a blue-and-gold macaw; Iggy, a four-foot iguana, and two baby potbelly pigs.
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