Every year on February 2nd, some poor groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary, is subjected to a number of misguided human beings extracting him from his home and using him as a weather balloon. This 126 year old tradition has its roots in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Supposedly, if the groundhog sees its shadow, then winter will continue for six more weeks. Considering winter never really got started this year, I suspect he will not see his shadow. Although, that doesn’t make much sense, because if it is sunny that means snow is melting, if there was any, but there ain’t around the Boston ‘burbs.
If you can’t get to Pennsylvania and are in Massachusetts, you are in luck! Mrs. G., another weather forecasting groundhog, will make her appearance at the Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln today.
Please click the photos to see the full size shots.
I’ve always known these cute mammals as woodchucks and have only seen one in the wild three times in my life. They’re common from the midwest to the east coast in the U.S. and Canada. In 2010, while resting from shooting turtles at a pond at the Powisett Farm in Dover, I looked over to discover one foraging in the grass not 10 feet from where I sat. Unfortunately, I had a lens made for long distance shooting and I could not move, or I would scare the hungry animal away. So leaning in a most awkward way, I captured this little beast the best that I could. These aren’t the best photos I’ve ever taken, but I was happy to capture a few with the equipment I had on hand. (Nikon D90 and very old Sigma APO 170-500mm F5-6.3 Aspherical RF lens made for a film camera.)
Did you know the groundhog (marmota monax) is a member of the squirrel family and also qualifies as a marmot? You can learn more about Groundhog Day and our odd weather forecasting friend on these sites:
- The Webguy. “6 Little Known Facts About Groundhog Day.” 1059 Sunny FM, 2/1/12.
- Di Silvestro, Roger. “10 Things You May Not Know About Groundhogs.” National Wildlife Federation, 1/13/11.Mass Audubon Society. “Groundhogs.”
- Than, Ker. “Groundhog Day 2012: Behind Phil’s Immortal Allure.” National Geographic, 2/1/12.
- National Geographic. “Animals – Groundhog.”
- Wikipedia. “Groundhog.”