Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Rocky II

I noticed this fellow in our screech owl box one day while working in the yard. So of course I went and fetched the camera. And it obliged by remaining until I returned.  I showed the pictures to Patty and we both thought Flying Squirrel. But they are nocturnal. So why would this one be poking out the hole during the day?

One month and one day later we spotted this out our living room window.

And it's been visiting everyday since.

So now we put out food especially for flying squirrels. It seems to like peanut butter (as do the oppies, but that's another post ...).

Actually, they like peanut butter, as there are at least two (and perhaps more) visiting.


You might recall that we had a Flying Squirrel visit in February of 2015. A one night wonder, or so we thought. But maybe they've been here all along. We recently had some work done on our home, installing sliding glass doors and a large picture window in our living room. The time we used to spend in the three season room, with a view of the deck, we now spend in the living room. With very large windows and a clear view of our side yard and gardens. Where the bird feeders are. So it is no coincidence that we are seeing more wildlife. And noticing the squirrels.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Rim Shot

Here is another image of the not quite super moon. Look closely at the top and bottom edges.

Remind you of Christmas?

The top of the moon has a green edge and the bottom a red one. The explanation can be found at the Atmospheric Optics site.

These phenomena are invisible to the naked eye but are revealed when images are taken with a long lens. The colors become more pronounced the lower the moon is in the sky. Thanks to Dr. Les Cowley for confirming my sighting and explaining the relationship between the height of the object and the intensity of the colors.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The War on Lawn

As noted in prior posts, when we bought our home it had a beautiful yet labor and chemical intensive lawn. We've slowly been changing that, going native. Our latest project was the side garden.

I've focused reporting on the bog, seen below covered with a mulch of pine needles, but the bog is just part of the larger garden.

This image shows the full garden area, almost completely ready for winter. We've still to finish the edging (thanks Terry!). And we'll need to replace some of the leaf mulch which has blown away (thanks Lori!). But otherwise we're just anxiously waiting for spring.

In the mean time we're enjoying watching the wildlife that visits, from the comfort of our living room ...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Not Quite Super Duper

The full moon of November 14, 2016 occurred almost at perigee (within two hours), which made it the closest full moon since January 26th, 1948. The full moon won't be this close again until 2034.

Alas, I did not see the moon at perigee, which occurred at sunrise on the 14th (my friend Jerry did, and got this shot, which was also an APOD).

Rather, I shot the not quite full moon at moon rise the evening prior.

A group of us went to Whitesbog, in New Jersey's Brendan Byrne State Forest, for an evening stroll around the bogs. I quickly found a spot and setup my camera while the rest of the group continued their walk.

As I waited a small group gathered, curious about the "Super Moon". We passed the time discussing orbital mechanics and atmospheric scattering of light.

We had a very clear sky on both horizons and we were able to spot the moon as it rose beyond trees.

The clear skies also resulted in a "Belt of Venus", the purple and grey colors of the sky.

It was nice to see so many people out because of the buzz about the 'super moon', excited about the natural world, but none of these phenomena are unique to this particular moonrise.


The term "super moon" was coined by astrologers who continue to fool themselves and others while peddling pseudo-scientific BS of no value. And it was quickly picked up by an attention grabbing media and populace with little interest in depth of understanding and short attention spans. And while images that show the smallest and largest full moons side by side do show a significant size difference, most full moons are not at these extremes, and few people would be able to tell the difference.

So don't wait for a 'super moon' to get out and enjoy the full moon. Whitesbog, where I shot these images, even has a monthly full moon night hike, on the Saturday evening closest to full moon. But you need not go anywhere, as all you need is clear skies and the curiosity to go outside and look up.

Good viewing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


The meadow at the end of day two, and after a night of heavy rain, the first good rain here in over a month.

The plot was expanded, and soil, the first round of plants and mulch added.

Next steps will be the continued expansion of the meadow plot, the transplanting of seedlings currently growing in our garden, the transplanting of other plants from around our yard, and the adding of seeds directly to the meadow plot.

And here is another link on why this is important. It seems that the native pollinators are even more important than I had realized. So go ahead, plant a native wildflower garden. The local farmers will thank you (as will your tummy).

This post was originally published in 2015. I don't know why it is showing up again. But I hope you enjoyed this rerun!


I've been spending my weekends of late on the bog project. And I've finished. For now.

You can see below the hole is almost completely filled. It would take eighteen bags of sphagnum peat moss to do so. You can also where I've started to cut the excess liner away. It was much easier than I expected. I also cut some slits in the liner to allow excess water to drain. We live in a wet area and don't want the bog to be a pond.

Look closely and you'll see I had an audience. Turkeys! They had no qualms about me being there as long as I was busy either shoveling dirt out of the hole, or peat moss in. But if I went to get tools or slate they hustled into the front yard. Only to return when I went back to work (they really like sunflower seeds).

A couple of trips to the hardware store to get the proper PVC pieces (with an extra trip when I bought the wrong size! D'oh!) and the line form the rain barrel is sloping into the bog.

And then buried (well most of it anyway).

While it is a wet area it can get dry during the hot summer months. The rain barrel will provide a reservoir ensuring the bog is always sufficiently hydrated.

Here is the finished product. The slate slabs user to line the edge of the bog, covering and holding down the liner, were piled up in the back of our yard, no doubt left over from the construction of our two ponds (by the prior owners). Most of the plants are Sarracenia purpurea, our native pitcher plant, that I purchased at the native plant sale at this years Whitesbog Blueberry Festival.  There are also a couple of Drosera species, sundews. The pitcher plants and sundews are carnivores. We've since added a few more plants, including a small cranberry bush. Inside the slate is the brown sphagnum moss, outside is black compost, another layer of our lasagna garden (you can see some of the cardboard poking through at the lower right). The whole garden area will be covered with leaf mulch for the winter. Come spring we'll begin planting again.

I'll need to find something new to fill my weekends 'til then.