Friday, December 30, 2016

Look What Santa Brought Us!

We were traveling over Christmas and arrived home yesterday. We opened our presents this morning.

And in one box we found this!

An Eastern Screech Owl. How cool is that?

Thank's Santa!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Three Opies

We have Virginia Opossums, 'Opies', who visit every night, but we don't really know how many may be out there. Last night we had three at the same time. So we know there are at least three!

This is Opie # 1, high up in the tree.

This is a small-ish creature, apparently from the second brood of the year.

Luanne and Dan Weekes, who live just down and around the bend from us, are the proprietors of Pollination Station. And among other things they rehabilitate Virginia Opossums. Through them we recently learned that Virginia Opossums have two litters a year. It appears that both Opie #1 and Opie #2 are second brooders.

This is Opie #2, on the makeshift flying squirrel feeder platforms.

We put peanut butter on these feeders, and on the tree, each evening. And watch the wildlife that comes to call.

Here is #3. It is a bit bigger than the first two.

Other than size and overall grayness of their fur, we've not learned to tell them apart.

It is a small gray one that likes to go high in the tree, seemingly to get away from the others, but as you can see these two are both small and gray.

Is it always the same one that is up high? Or does it depend on the order that they arrive?

Perhaps there are several small grey opossums that are visiting, and a few like the view from on high. We just don't know.

We've had up to three visit on several occasions. But they are solitary creatures, arriving and departing alone. With few direct interactions. And those I've witnessed seem to be aimed at determining "who are you" and telling each other to "leave me alone". So it is difficult to develop a 'personality profile' that might help identify individual opossums.

But we'll continue to watch and learn what we can about these and all the creatures that visit our yard. And maybe we'll yet figure out how to tell them apart.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hey Baby It's ...

... warm outside?

On Sunday December 18th I almost stepped on this Green Frog hopping about the yard. (The frog not me.)

When thinking of December, it is snow, Santa, and shopping which spring to mind. And cold, can't forget cold. Not frogs hopping about the yard.

And yet, there it was.

Fortunately, as we see, it made it back to the pond. Just in time, as temps plummeted the next day. And it has been well below freezing since.


Green Frogs overwinter in ponds and, if the temps are warm enough, will leave the pond and go walk (hop?) about. Perhaps they are confused and think it is spring? And this past Sunday it was warm and wet.

This frog is floating in our fish pond. To keep the water in the filter box from freezing, and perhaps cracking the box, we keep a heater in it from around Thanksgiving until spring. This also keeps part of the water surface ice free, allowing oxygen to enter the water. Enough O₂ to keep the fish and frogs alive throughout the winter.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Solstice!

And remember, Orbital Mechanics, it's the reason for the season!

Venus and the Moon

Stay warm!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Concussion Protocol

This is a Tufted Titmouse. A stunned Tufted Titmouse. It recently slammed into to the sliding glass doors leading out form our living room. I took this shot with my iPhone just before I picked the bird up.

It struggled briefly in my hands but soon calmed down. As with all such stunned birds, I placed it in a protected place out in the garden. And it eventually recovered and flew off.

Our feeders attract birds looking for food (duh!) but not always the food we put out. The birds themselves are sometimes food for other birds. Coopers and Sharp-shinned Hawks regularly visit the feeders, sending the rest of the birds into a panicked rush to the trees.

And in their haste reflections of trees look just as good as the real thing. And thus the occasional "thud" we hear as bird hits window.

Not all are as fortunate as the titmouse. The Dark-eyed Junco below did not survive its encounter.

This is the view from behind the garden. You can see the sliding glass doors at the left edge of the house, looking here into our living room. You can see the feeders in the garden area as well. We try to keep them a good distance from the windows, but a panicked bird may still bolt that way.

We've also hung strings in front of the windows which, by swaying in the wind, break up the reflected view. And decals on the windows that are barely visible to humans but supposedly obvious to the birds. Thankfully, we don't get many thuds, but it is a sad sound when we do.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cold and Flu Season

'Tis the season for runny noses ...

Perhaps we should provide tissues out at the feeders?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Moth Night

One evening this past March ...

... I did a bit of mothing.

Yet try as I might ...

... I've not identified a single one.

Zippo, Nada, None.

You can see they are rather distinctive.

So you'd think it would be easy.

I mean, ...

... I should at least get a couple.

Or even just one.

But nope.

All my reference works ...

... and online resources have failed me.

Of course, I was in Ecuador at the time. And the only reference work I could fine is the series Butterflies and Moths of Ecuador, which has at least twenty volumes. The most recent of which is volume 10A, which is only £78.99, plus shipping (from England).

So I guess I'll just be enjoying the pretty pictures of moth sp.

Monday, December 5, 2016

This Morning's Garden Visitor

The crabapple tree was full of American Robins this morning. Enjoying a breakfast of the sour fruits.

But one looked odd, it had a different tail.

Because it wasn't a robin. It was a Cedar Waxwing. And it was the only Cedar Waxing in the tree. Which is rather curious as they usually travel in flocks. I don't think I've ever seen a lone bird before.

The tail, which looks as if it was dipped in yellow paint, really stands out. As does the black mask and, although not visible here, the red tipped primary feathers.

A colorful bird that I've had difficulty getting a good photograph of. Perhaps my best opportunity was out the kitchen window of my condo. A flock descended on a tree no more than fifteen feet away. I grabbed my camera a was sure I got several nice shots. Alas, this was in the film days and my camera had a roll of black and white loaded. And I got several very close, very sharp colorless Cedar Waxwing images.

I'll keep trying.