Monday, October 16, 2017

Challenge Day 4

Day 4/7


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Yard Critter of the Week

Potter Wasp, Eumenes fraternus.

I spotted this female as she was just starting her nest. A curious spot to build it perhaps, on the steps from the car park to the deck. A relatively high traffic area around here.

The old photographer's maxim is that the best camera is the one you have with you. And in this case that was my iPhone.

Which turned out to be the right thing to do as I would not see her again.

But I would see her handiwork.

Look closely and you'll see the mud is still wet. Apparently I was just a bit to late. But I was sure I'd see her. I knew where to look and I could just set up and wait.

But it was not to be. My stakeouts were not successful.

Again, wet mud. But no wasp.

Alas, I am dependently wealthy. And our work schedules, the wasp and I, seemingly overlapped.

The penultimate phase. The wasp will lay eggs in the nest and then find a small caterpillar, paralyze it, and stuff it in as well. The caterpillar will remain alive and when the wasp larvae hatch will be fresh source of food.

Rather gruesome.

The last step is to seal everything in. And then once complete she'll head off to build another pot.

Challenge Day 3

Day 3/7

You Know You're Old When ...

... Ford Escorts are Antique Cars!

(Look closely at the license plate.)


I'm old.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Challenge

I don't really use Facebook all that much. But there are a few things I use it for. And as such I don't always notice when people post things to or about me.

Like this from a Facebook friend Robert Barnes Laucks, aka "Bog Iron":

I was given this challenge by my friend Eileen Kosman
Seven Days.
Seven black and white photos.
No people, no explanations.
Challenge someone new each day.
Day 3/7 "Rain at the Nesco cow farm"
Today I challenge Steve Mattan.

Now I'm not really a big fan of these Facebook challenges. And black and white really isn't my thing. But I do like photography. And it's good to get out of one's comfort zone every now and then.

So here goes.


Day 1/7

Kitty Cat Invasion

We all know that if a black cat crosses one's path it is bad luck. Especially if it is Friday the 13th!

But what if that cat is surrounded by other cats?

This happened in our garden today, so I need to know, is it safe for me to go out of the house?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Nursery Yard

The prior owners of our home did this:

They certified the property as wildlife habitat. And while this is done via the honor system, they did do quite a bit to maintain the yard as wildlife friendly. A practice we have continued and even improved upon (but if you read this blog you already knew that).

Note the fourth basic habit element listed on the sign (click the image to bigafy), "... and places to raise young."

I think we're going pretty ok on that front. Here are some examples from this year's breeding season.

This is a baby Northern Water Snake. One of several I've seen on the property the last few months. I found and caught this one when doing some work in the bog garden. After finishing the work, and snapping a few images, I released it back in the bog.

And these three youngin's have been featured in the Yard Critter of the Week series, Northern Spring Peeper, Northern Gray Tree Frog, and Fowler's Toad.

And we've plenty of tadpoles in our two ponds. Surprisingly, I don't have any recent pictures.

I've noted a number of times about the increase in Eastern Cottontails we've seen in the yard. And we all know what rabbits do.

Yep, a baby bunny.

These two baby Northern Raccoons spent several days in our yard.

Until it became obvious they were orphans, after which I captured them and took them to a local animal rehab center.

We've a number of birds that breed our yard, they include.

Northern Cardinal.

Eastern Phoebes (four chicks in this nest).

Wild Turkeys.

Carolina Chickadees (five chicks in this one).

Chipping Sparrows.

Black-billed Cuckoo.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

I'm not sure who fledged from this nest, but we did have young Red-shouldered Hawks in the yard. And this nest was not here last year.

But for this nest, in the newspaper slot of our mail box, we're not at all sure.

And of course, lots of different bugs get busy the yard. Here are just a few.

Baby spiders (can you spot them all?).

Monarch Butterfly.

Assassin Bug Nymph.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn
That's a sampling of the babes in our woods this year.

And this doesn't even include all he caterpillars we've seen!

Yeah, I think we're doing ok.

Yard Critters

For my own edification I thought I would track the yard critters of the week.

     Amphibians: 4
     Birds: 2
     Insects: 8
     Mammals: 4
     Reptiles: 1

And here is a convenient list of the posts, in alphabetical order by common name.

American Carrion Beetle
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Camouflaged Looper Caterpillar
Eastern Cottontail
Eastern Gray Squirrel
Fowler's Toad
Golden-backed Snipe Fly
Northern Flicker
Northern Gray Tree Frog
Northern Raccoon
Northern Spring Peeper
Northern Water Snake
Rainbow Scarab 
Red-humped Caterpillar
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
True Katydid
Yellow-necked Caterpillars

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Yard Critter of the Week

Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Patty spotted this one, "there's a kinglet taking a bath in the garden!", she called from the living room.

But the downside of having a wall that is all window is, as noted in a prior post, that the critters can see you. Thus, since I'm a bit bigger than them, they tend, if birds, to fly away.

Luckily, while I spooked it from the birdbath it didn't go far, perching on branch between two of the triple stumps. Conveniently (again by design) just outside the kitchen window. And I shot away.

As the Cornell All About Birds site puts it, "A tiny bird seemingly overflowing with energy, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet forages almost frantically through the lower branches of shrubs and trees." I consider myself lucky if a get one good shot, with most just a blurred partial bird, if the bird is in the frame at all.  But this one was quite cooperative as it preened after its bath.

This fellow, and it is a "fellow" as it is the males who have the ruby crown, is just passing through. A relatively short distance migrant, they breed in Canada and the northern United States, and winter in the Southern US and Mexico.

Now's the time to spot them. Sunflower seeds and mealworms are favorite foods. So top off your feeders and keep a weather eye out for them.

Today's Garden Visitor

Eastern Towhee.

Surprisingly, this is the first one we've seen in the yard this year.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


I see you!

But chippy here is hoping no one else does.

This Eastern Chipmunk seeks out this spot, on the top of a small brush pile in our garden, seemingly whenever it senses danger. It will sit there, quite still, for minutes at a time. Watching.

Of course, we put the brush pile there so the birds and beasts would feel safe visiting the garden. And we could get good looks from the comport of our living room.

And Chippy considers me, and the cats (always indoors those cats) dangerous. Thus when spotting me as I set up the camera at our sliding glass doors, it assumes the pose. This makes it easy to get pictures, as it's sitting for a portrait as it were.

Except for all those #$%@* sticks!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Yard Critter of the Week


The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, shown here on our home office window screen.

Introduced accidentally from Asia, it was first noticed in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 2001. Since then it has spread, at least as far as our house. And they sure do seem to like it here. I counted fifty on the house the other day without really even trying (there are several crawling about the window screens as I type).

And I've fed a couple dozen to the fish in our pond over the past week, who seemed to enjoy them. Note that when catching them you need to ensure the tail end is pointing away from you. As that is from whence the stinky stuff they are named for emanates [personal experience].

(If you squeeze them you can see it squirt out!)

((No, squinting your friends would not be nice!))

(((Fun perhaps, but not nice.)))

Fun fact: their natural predator in their home range is the coolly named Samurai Wasp. Alas, we don't seem to have any of those around. Of course, since they are the size of pencil point it would be hard to notice them if they were. If we lived in New York we could get some, for a donation of $100 (seems a bit of a scam for farmers to ask people to pay for the opportunity to help eliminate a pest for said farmers; maybe I could charge people to come feed them to our fish ...).

Saturday, September 30, 2017


In our yard the other morning.





(Click on the images to see larger versions.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tube Colors


Nope, just physics.

Which is fun too.

Specifically, thin film interference.

In our garden we have a wind chime. A present from Patty to me (via our friend Barb). The tubes are held from a wooden plate by a thin cord. Said cord broke and two of the tubes fell. Very sad.

I could repair it. We have the technology. Specifically, fishing line.

When repairing it I happened to look down a tube. And then went to get my camera.

And the rest is history a blog post.

The repaired chimes hanging in the garden.


Of course, this was already covered on the Les Cowley's Atmospheric Optics site. Which no doubt primed me to look down the tube in the first place.