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Merlins Abide at Spruces Park
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
05:30PM / Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Look aloft, for I hear wings stirring the air and the primeval cry of a falcon in the spruce!   Also known as pigeon hawk, a family of merlin falcons occupies a significant niche in the open meadow known for its tall Norway spruce, seeded when these 38 acres was formerly a thriving mobile home park.   While I was surveying this moist meadow for butterfly diversity, both resident and migratory, walking the dirt roads between weedy quadrants, I heard a deliberate outcry from above, and looked up to behold some large hawk-like birds swiftly flying between the tall spruces that punctuate the grassy meadow like solemn sentinels.    A

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Hidden Bio-Gem Discovered at Mountain Meadow
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
05:22PM / Sunday, August 26, 2018
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Another image of the northern pearly eye found at Mountain Meadows and enhanced by Erik Hansen. WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — As I walked up the grassy trail to Mountain Meadow Preserve, I was soon in for a big surprise.   Following a zigzag erratic flight of what looked like a common little wood satyr, a closer look when it roosted on a blade of grass before I could close the shutter, what flew off turns out to be a heretofore unlisted satyrid for Mountain Meadow, the multi-Argus-eyed northern pearly eye.   Enodia anthedon is hard enough to find on Cape Cod, my former home for more than 30 years, let alone here in the Berkshires.   Watch carefully the sylvan fringe where

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Swallowtails and Purples Abound at Stoney Ledge
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
04:33PM / Sunday, August 05, 2018
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A monarch sips nectar from a lily. Its wings can brush against the flower's stamen and anthers, spreading its pollen to the next flower. ADAMS, Mass. — The winding trail out to Stoney Ledge on the slopes of Mount Greylock is wide enough to allow sunlight to penetrate the high leafy canopy above, creating light gaps where wildflowers abound that attract assorted butterflies.    The tiger swallowtail is the sole swallowtail here in late June through mid-July, and quite numerous, leading to a surprising estimate in the thousands for the whole Greylock mountain range and neighboring valleys. Swallowtails looping and fluttering through the green woodland in this great

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Williamstown Pollinator Campaign Celebrates Successful Educational Effort
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:15AM / Tuesday, July 17, 2018
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Williams College professor Joan Edwards, on the right, leads a discussion at the college's Hopkins Forest. WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Art and science came together in a unique way for Bridget Spann.   One of the coordinators of the town's Bee Friendly Williamstown campaign was at the Clark Art Institute in May when she had an epiphany.   "They did a panel discussion with Kim Skrym, who is the [Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources] apiary coordinator about how the Clark is altering its landscaping practices to be more pollinator friendly. It was very inspiring, and it's a change from how the Clark used to tend to its grounds."   But

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Hoosic River Host to Mother Merganser and Ducklings
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
03:58PM / Sunday, July 01, 2018
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — What came as a complete surprise while I was surveying wildlife at the Hoosic River was an armada of little ducklings paddling to keep up with their mother merganser. I had heard of ducks laying up to 12 eggs per nest, but 16 fuzzy red heads all in tight single file seemed incredulous. Perhaps she had taken on another missing mother gander's offspring.    As time passed, I counted five ducklings able to catch a ride on mamma's back, while the rest paddled wildly behind, reminiscent of loons carrying baby loons while crossing an upland lake. This sighting is my first for river mergansers and caused in me a reserved jubilee, a quiet

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Cecropia, Our Sylvan King
By Tor Hansen, Guest Column
07:15PM / Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — So majestic is Hyalophora cecropia in appearance and biology that our sylvan king of the realm is a fitting title.   Just how this regal silk moth can engineer survival despite an inborn handicap is to its credit all the more remarkable. That such a resourceful creature can change form, starting with a tiny egg advancing to an enticing armored caterpillar, to a slumbering pupa inside a silken cocoon, emerging transformed into a wondrous moth is totally amazing.     Cecropia is an ancient moth, but its remote origin remains a mystery. So named by the father of binomial nomenclature, the taxonomist Carrolus

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State House Passes Act That Helps Preserve Family Farms
02:46PM / Monday, June 18, 2018
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BOSTON — State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli joined state Rep. Kate Hogan of Stwo and colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass a bill that aims to preserve family farms across the commonwealth.

H.3915, An Act to establish estate tax valuation for farms, would change the method for assessment of the estate tax valuation for agricultural land. Pignatelli, of Lenox, worked with Hogan to include the agricultural estate tax reform bill as part of a larger environmental bond bill that seeks to address the commonwealth's climate change preparedness and response plans.

"The agricultural estate tax is possibly one of the most important pieces of legislation

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Spring Harbinger Butterflies Abound on Mount Greylock
By Tor Hansen, Community Submission
05:44PM / Saturday, April 28, 2018
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ADAMS, Mass. — Under azure blue skies our sun is warming the ground story all around the woodlands of Mount Greylock, and the native butterflies are responding. Drawn out of winterlong hibernation, resident species are actively flitting about, searching for mates, and sipping both ground moisture and sap from oak and beech trees.

As April warmth pervades the trailside glens, as winter's remnant snows remain and recede, one may find joy in witnessing these showy denizens basking in vernal warmth, and dashing and zooming hither and yon, in pursuit of conjugation or coupling so to procreate their progeny or offspring.  

  Here nature shows us

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North Adams Committee Mulling Plastic-Bag Ban
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
02:22AM / Monday, April 09, 2018
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General Government Committee members Paul Hopkins, left, Rebbecca Cohen and Chairman Eric Buddington were seeking more input before continuing the discussion. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The General Government Committee wants more feedback as it considers a ban on single-use plastic bags.    Nearly three dozen people attended last Wednesday's meeting in City Council chambers, and giving views both for and against the proposal. Wide-ranging discussion lasted nearly an hour and led committee members to hold off on any discussion that evening.    "We've heard compelling arguments in several directions," said member Paul Hopkins. "I'm going to

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Pollinator-Friendly Events Planned in Wiliamstown This Spring
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:52AM / Monday, January 15, 2018
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  WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A number of public events are planned for this spring to raise awareness of pollinator health.   Last May, town meeting adopted a non-binding resolution declaring Williamstown a pollinator-friendly community and encouraging landowners to adopt management practices to protect the bees, butterflies and insects that are critical to the ecosystem and the, specifically, our food supply.   Last week, the Select Board heard a presentation from three Williams College students who studied the issue and looked, specifically, at how large landowners like the college, the Clark Art Institute and the town can develop pollinator-friendly

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