Monday, October 27, 2014


I posted about our resident Turkeys at the beginning of the month. And I noted two things in that post. First that one of our neighbors had told us that we'd see more of the birds this time of year. And that I'd continue to try to get good images.

This post is evidence that both are true. Although it's not clear that I'm getting better images.

Some are pretty good, like the portrait above. But most are still blurry, as these birds just don't stand still.

This past Saturday we had thirteen birds in the side yard. And another fifteen in the front yard.

And then we had twenty-eight birds in the side yard. The adults seem to have left the group and these are all smaller sub-adult birds. Although they are growing up.

And this time we saw something new from our birds.

The boys were starting to show off.

Mostly they displayed to no one in particular.

Occasionally two males showed off to each other, although is wasn't clear if this was intentional or if it was just an accident of proximity. We didn't notice any clear aggressive or challenging behavior. But then again, I don't know all that much about turkey society or what to expect.

And sometimes they tried to get the attention of the lady turkeys. Who generally seemed more annoyed than anything else. As the boys seemed to just be chasing them around, when all they wanted to do was eat.

So they were chased this way.

And then that way.

And then back again.

Finally they'd had enough and decided to leave.

So all twenty-eight headed off into the woods at the southeast corner of the yard.

With a couple of the boys hurrying to catch up while trying to still look important.

It will be interesting to see how long they remain in this big group. I've seen much smaller groups of adult birds wandering in the area. We still have groups of a dozen or so birds visit every day. Just this evening we had two groups, one of fourteen and one of thirteen visit and then merge into one large group, which then headed off into the southeast woods, albeit this time from the front yard.

Regardless I'll keep trying to get good images. And should I succeed I be sure to share them here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Purple is the New ...

... Finch in our yard.

This pair appeared Saturday morning at our feeder.

I don't remember ever seeing a Purple Finch in New Jersey before. And now there are two in my yard.

The forecast was good for Purple Finches this year. And it seems to be accurate. These birds breed in Canada and only head south in large numbers when the food supply is low. And that is the basis for the forecast, the seed crop is not a good one this year. So south the roam looking for food.

We weren't the only folks to see them this weekend. My friend Linda reports that she saw a dozen in Cape May, along with a few other birds.

We only had two but they did spend the entire weekend. Here's hoping that they decide to spend the winter with us.

Hamster Jr.

When we were first looking at what is now our home, the then owner Dennis was showing us around. And he took us out to the back pond. And a turtle swam up.

"It's been here for a couple of weeks. He just showed up one day.", Dennis told us, "And he likes to eat shrimp." And at that Dennis bent down and gave him a shrimp.

The turtle, an Eastern Painted Turtle, also enjoyed lunchmeat, a somewhat more cost effective treat.


Thus whenever we had guests we'd let them feed our curiously tame wild turtle. It was Patty's niece who gave it the moniker, "Hamster", playing on its fondness for ham.

We had hoped Hamster would make our pond his pond. But it was not to be. We went away, to the Galapagos, and when we returned there was no sign of him. We had hoped that he went wandering and that he had not become a tasty treat for some other critter.

Fast forward a week or two and Patty and I were out exploring the woods behind our place when we came upon two like minded souls, our neighbor Ryan and his nephew. We had not yet met so after the introductions we chatted a bit. Turns out that Ryan has a pet turtle. And that turtle had gone missing for a few weeks. But now that turtle, Hamster, was back home.

Since then, but for a passing snapping turtle, our pond has remained turtle-less.

Until yesterday that is.

That's when I found this guy.

Hamster Jr.
He was in the middle of the road, heading our way. So I gave him a lift.

Like Hamster Sr. he seemed unafraid of people, although he quickly hid away when a car drove over him.

He's a little guy, as can be seen in the image above.

We set him free near our back pond and he headed straight for it. Here's hoping he takes up residence, and finds it a comfortable place to spend the winter.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sparrow Hunting

This past Saturday we went sparrow hunting.

They Like to Hide
You can read all about it here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

" ... Like Something From a Scifi Movie ..."

That's how she described these creatures as she drew out a map for where we could find them. "They were on both sides of the trail" she told us, "they seem to prefer the smaller bayberry bushes."

So off we went to Cape May Point State Park.

And we found them, right where she said they would be.

My first view was looking down on it like this. Curious looking to say the least.

A bit easier to figure out what it is from the side.

Stinging Rose Caterpillar, Parsa indetermina, yellow morph.

And orange morph. Not your ordinary caterpillars.

With the bright colors they were easy to spot, assuming one knew where (and to) look form them.

And that's the key, knowing to look for them.

Amazingly, despite us both squatting and kneeling in the bayberry bushes right on the side of the trail, looking and photographing, not a single passerby inquired as to what we were doing. What we were seeing. How many times have I walked blindly by some amazing creature or phenomena, totally oblivious to wonders around me?

The world is a wondrous magical place. So get out and look around.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Other Visitors ...

... or are they fellow residents?

Here are a few more of the creatures that shared our Saturday.

I spotted this wolf spider when it ran across the back pond. I'm not sure what it was hunting as it scurried away.

I had been shooting the lilly pads at the time. Alas, I had frightened off all the frogs (we've six species of frogs and toads sharing our homestead -- stay tuned for pictures in an upcoming post).

I was then distracted by a butterfly which landed in our fire pit.

An eastern comma, I'm not sure what it found so appealing there. But the bright orange against the black and tan sure made it appealing to Patty and me.

You can see the namesake comma on its wing in this shot. A little white ",".

I'll finish up with one of the many autumn meadow hawks we have patrolling our yard, doing their best to keep the mosquito population in check.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


These birds are regular visitors and have been since we've moved in.

We have group of birds, which started out as two adults with eleven jakes and jennies, visiting the yard at least once and often twice a day, coming first for breakfast and then again for dinner.

The group was rather successful, with nine of the eleven young, and both adults, still visiting five months later.

One of our neighbors told us that this time of year we'd see more of the birds. So I wasn't entirely surprised when Patty counted seventeen out in the yard one day. She texted me to keep a weather eye for when I pulled into the driveway coming home from work.

I had thought I had spotted them down the road at said neighbor's farm as I approached the house. Not so as I found the flock moseying about our front yard.

I find the different head patterns curious, some with many warts, some none, some bright red, some dull.

They visited again on Saturday, but I'm not sure which group as I spotted them late and they were already moving off into the woods. I did manage to grab a few shots before they disappeared. But getting really good images is difficult as it is usually low light and the birds refuse to stand still.

But I'm sure I'll keep trying.


This little guy spent Saturday in our garden.

Most of the time digging about in the mulch.

A cold front came through last night. And it was a great day in Cape May (where we spent Sunday morning).

But when we got home this fellow was still hanging around, although now out by the back pond.


We spent a nice relaxing day at home this past Saturday. This is the first of several posts showing what was out and about in our yard.

The days are getting cooler and shorter.

Time to stock up for winter.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


We're lucky enough to live in a rural area. One with plenty of prime locations to send a monarch on its way. So after a nice safe night in our living room it was time to go ...

 ... to Mexico.

And that to me is the most amazing thing about this incredible process. That these insects, with their minuscule brains and no memory of the journey (it was their great great great grandparents that made the previous trip south), migrate to a forest in Mexico.

We know they migrate because of the tags that many volunteers, including for the first time us, put on them each year.

Thus on my way to work last Monday morning I took our newly emerged male monarch to a nearby field. One with plenty of flowers for food.

On Tuesday it was the female's turn.

Here she is with her tag showing.

We would love to learn that these two made it to Mexico. But the chances of us hearing anything is small.

Should anyone find our, or any other tagged monarchs, they can report the tag number by email to TAG@KU.EDU or by phone to 1-888-TAGGING (824-4464). Our two monarchs are sporting tags with the numbers TLJ728 (the male) and TLJ729 (the female).

Here's hoping they make it. And that we learn that they do.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Those two monarch caterpillars have become butterflies.

(Monarch Butterflies)

We were checking them each morning and this past Sunday one became transparent. We could see the butterfly inside.

I find it amazing that it can fit in such a compact space. In addition to that whole caterpillar turning into a butterfly thing. Yeah, that's amazing too.

We were warned that it would emerge rather quickly. Alas I was not ready and got this blurry shot.

He, this one is a male, hung there pumping out his wings and exercising his proboscis.

We took him, and her (she would emerge the next day) inside and did this:

The tags were provided by Monarch Watch (by way of the Rancocas Nature Center). We kept them both overnight in a butterfly cage with some food so he could fuel up for his big day tomorrow.