Sunday, July 30, 2017

Yard Critter of the Week - True Katydid

Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid.

Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid.

Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid.

Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid.

Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid. Katydid.


In case you are wondering, the critter pictured is a male True Katydid (that brown triangular patch gives it away). And yes, they call and call and call all night long.

And it is a nice on the occasional cool summer night with the windows open to fall asleep to the sound of these (and other) insects looking for a one night stand.

You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Garden Safari

I returned from Churchill this week and was very happy to see the gardens around the house all in bloom.  After days of weeding, last evening Steve and I decided to go on a garden safari to see what creatures were lurking amongst the flowers.

We have lots of milkweed in the yard: swamp, common and butterfly weed.

I counted nine monarch caterpillars chomping away.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

Milkweed Tussock Caterpillars also can safely eat milkweed.  

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

On the fennel and parsley in the garden were several black swallowtail caterpillars.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

Our Serviceberry had a leaf full of these Datana caterpillars ...

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

... they will become Datana Moths

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

Not everything was coming up caterpillars, here are some eggs on the back of a NY Ironweed leaf - soon to be caterpillars?  We will have to wait and see.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

But where there are caterpillars, there are butterflies.

Red-banded hairstreak.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

Eastern Tailed-blue.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

Other invertebrates were lurking in the garden.

This Sharpshooter leafhopper was on the stalk of my rattlesnake plant. Why it's called "Sharpshooter" I don't know.  According to my insect book, they feast on plant sap.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

No safari would be complete without predators.  And if it is death you want, the patch of mountain mint is the place to be.  As per usual, it had lots of insects.  

This 1.5 inch Garden Orb Spider can catch lots of prey in the mint.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

The Ambush bug waits quietly on a leaf for something to wander by.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

The Assassin Bug, ...

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

... with its arms folded up, lays in wait as well. 

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

Stay tuned for the next Garden Safari.

Happy Birthday Steve!!


Thanks to Patty Rehn for guest blogging. 
All words and images copyright Patty Rehn.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Yard Critter of the Week - Whistlepig

The Whistlepig.

Also known as the Ground Hog or Woodchuck or a whole bunch of other common names.

But I like "Whistlepig" the best, although it is not a pig and I've never heard one whistle. Its scientific name is Marmota monax. Yep, it is a marmot. Albeit a lowland one which lives not in the mountains but rather in fields and forests.

These are one of if not the most skittish critters that visit the yard. I spotted this one in our side garden, and even though I was in the house it somehow knew I was trying to take its picture and quickly ran off into the woods. This is only the second time we've seen them in the yard.

And they aren't something we really want in our yard, as they will feast on our garden plants. And thus, as with the first one, I set out a trap. And just like the when I put the trap out that time I caught not the Whistlepig, instead I caught a raccoon.

This time I caught two Northern Raccoons (one is tucked under the other in the image below). I let them go, although when I opened the trap they took their time leaving. They seemed to like it in there.

Since I put out the trap I've not seen the Whistlepig. Perhaps its moved to friendlier parts.

🦝  πŸ¦  πŸ¦  πŸ¦  πŸ¦

You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Yard Critter of the Week - Bullfrog


I was feeding our pond fish when I spotted the fine specimen above. Of course I went back into the house and grabbed the camera came back and commenced shooting. And when I started to move closer I noticed the one below.

Note the difference in the shades of green. Cool huh?

Both are in the image below. The bright green one is obvious at the bottom. The dark one is at the top of the image, in the center, sitting on the rock. Bigafy to get a better look.

These two appear to be females, as the tympanum (eardrum) is about the same size as its eye. For males it would be larger than the eye.


Of the eight species of frogs and toads that visit our yard, the Bullfrog is by far the largest (and is the largest in New Jersey). They are year round residents in both our ponds. And their "jug-o-rum" call is a welcome sign of spring.

You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


They have nice sunsets, or in this case anti-sunsets*, in the Great (not at the moment) White North as well.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

🌞 πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 🌞 πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 🌞 πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 🌞 πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 🌞

* This image is of the sky in the direction opposite the sun, known as the "anti-solar" point. And thus an "anti-sunset".

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Every month my friend Tom leads a full moon night hike at Whitesbog.

And every month it is cloudy.

Which can make for some dramatic sunsets.

But poor views of the moon.

We ended the walk in a brief drizzle while watching lighting and fireworks in the distance. The main storm passed north of us, which was good as we didn't get drenched and bad as our gardens could use some rain.

By the time I arrived home, the sky had cleared and the full moon was lighting up the yard. A very nice way to end the day.


1000 Mile Challenge update: as of this writing I have walked 691+ miles, which is approximately 100 miles ahead of schedule.  I should hit 1000 sometime in October. So far it's been much easier than I expected.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Yard Critter of the Week - Eastern Cottontail

The Eastern Cottontail. Or as we like to call 'em, Honey Bunnies.

We've seen several in the yard at the same time, although they are mostly loners. And each seems to have a different temperament. This one was less than five feet away from me. And I had to wait for it to raise its head to get the shot, as it was happily munching away, totally unconcerned with my presence. Yet there is another one that dashes into the woods whenever I make an appearance.


I've mentioned in previous blog posts that we rarely saw bunnies in the yard during our first year here. And we believe it was because of the way the prior owners maintained the lawn, with a series of  fertilizers and other chemical treatments. And since we've discontinued those we've seen Eastern Cottontails on an almost daily basis during spring and into summer. And while I don't know that this is truly the reason, I do know that there is much more clover which the bunnies, and the bees, seem to enjoy.

You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Death in the Pines ...

... or at least on my deck.

My brother and his family came to visit this past Thursday. Thus I spruced the place up a bit. So it was with a bit of surprise that I spotted this Friday morning, right outside the door:

I'm sure that I would have noticed, and cleaned it up, had it been there Thursday.

Now just above was a Paper Wasp nest. And sure enough it was now in taters.

And there was a dead and partially eaten wasp in the debris below.

I thought it unlikely that I'd be able to determine the perpetrator. But much to my surprise, they returned to the scene of the crime.

An Eastern Phoebe. I caught it casing the joint, although as there wasn't much left of interest, just one no doubt pissed wasp, so it did not linger.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Canadian Critter of the Week

Remember this post: Oh Canada (you should as it was only a couple of days ago)? Specifically the guy running naked through the fen?

Well, some people went out clothed into the fen that same day.

Here is a picture of one of them.

Image Courtesy Patty Rehn
Those black things?


All of them. Each and every single black spot, in the air and on the person.

I hope "Ken in the Fen" didn't need a blood transfusion at the end of his run.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Yard Critter of the Week - Fowler's Toad

Tiny Toads!

Very tiny baby Fowler's Toads.

With two ponds and plenty of transient pools our yard, and lots more in area that surrounds us, this is the place to be in springtime if you are a frog or toad. We have eight species that visit throughout the spring.

Including adult Fowler's Toads. The result of which you see here. The eggs take between two to seven days to hatch, and the tadpoles will then take up to forty days to become toads, which then head out into the world. Where the world is our yard, which right now is hopping with these small toads.

Which made a very good reason not to mow the lawn this past weekend.

🐸  πŸΈ  πŸΈ  πŸΈ  πŸΈ

You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Oh Canada!

July 1 is Canada Day in Canada [editor's note: duh!]. Seeing as I am in Churchill Manitoba, and it's the 150th anniversary, I thought I would see what the hubbub is all aboot, eh?

The morning started off with a bang! Three hours in the field with two Blackpoll Warbler researchers.

They set up a mist net, caught one of their study birds: weighed, measured, and drew blood from him.

This handsome fellow was hawking bugs while in hand. He kindly picked a mosquito off my finger. [editor's note: damn they have big mosquitoes there!]

As we were getting hungry too, we let him go and headed back to the Centre* for a quick lunch.

Then to town to meet the other staff and researchers for the Canada Day Hudson Bay relay race. (Yes, the guy, lower left, is in a beaver costume.)

People made teams of four, like this.

Of course this, eh? (Bigafy to see their black eyes!)

And this dream team!**

We lined up on the beach and listened to a man with a red bullhorn scream: "On your mark, Get set, GO!"

Into the water we ran,

swam to a rope line,

Came ashore

Tagged the hand of a teammate again and again, until ...

We briefly celebrated our accomplishment, before returning to the Centre for a hot shower.

but the fun didn't end there. It wouldn't be Canada Day with some nudity, eh?

Out in the fen, one of the bird researchers, Ken, ran 1K [editor's note: doesn't he know about those mosquitoes?]. Ken in the fen 2017.

This was followed by some rousing games of euchre (my partner and I won two outta three; not bad, eh?).

Sunset is late ~ 10:30.

So the fireworks did not begin until 11:30.

The sky is still light.

On our return, we stopped to see a downed plane called "Miss Piggy".

The sky is light all night long.


* The Churchill Northern Studies Centre. Patty is spending a month volunteering there.

** The woman on the left is Kathleen, who is also volunteering at the Centre. She lives in Pittman, NJ. Pittman is 35 miles from where we live. Churchill is 1555 miles away. It gets better. Patty used to live in Philadelphia. So did Kathleen. They were six blocks from each other, less than a mile.

πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Thanks to Patty Rehn for guest blogging. Most of the words and all of the images copyright Patty Rehn.