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.

1000 ...

... Miles.

I achieved that goal earlier today.

Image Courtesy Patty Rehn
Yours truly on the side of Mt Rainer, Washington, in August.

A very nice hike.


And thus the 1000 Mile Challenge has been met.

And I can now go sit down and have a beer.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Yard Critter of the Week - Rainbow Scarab Beetle

"An inordinate fondness for beetles." - J.B.S. Haldane

Since I've encountered it this has always been one of my favorite quotes. It was reportedly said in response to the question of what can science tell us about the creator. It seems that there are more beetles than any other type of insect and more insects than any other type of animal.

Which makes it rather difficult to identify those I find in the yard.

But not this time.

This is a Rainbow Scarab Beetle.

It is a female, males have a large horn (see below).

One of the benefits of working from home is that I not only see these things from my home office, I can also grab the camera and take some shots.

Assuming I'm not in a meeting that is.

I wasn't in a meeting.

I spotted her on the deck and rushed out to take some pix. She was not a willing model, scuttling about while I tried to focus.

She would eventually wander off. But I managed a few images. And while sooting I noticed the mites.

There are one and perhaps two different types of mites on this beetle. Apparently not parasites. Just hitchhikers. The predatory mite, Macrocheles amygdaligera, is known to hitch a ride on Rainbow Scarabs. So maybe that's what they are.

These Beetles are a type of dung beetles. And their second favorite flavor of dung is that from opossums, and regular readers of this blog know we've got them around (their favorite is pig dung, we don't have any pigs, but give Patty some time ...).

Other insects also use dung, notably flies, and the mites predate on the the fly larvae. And since the beetle is heading toward the nearest dung pile why not hitch a ride?


Now, about that easy identification. After I downloaded the images to my computer I pulled Arthur Evans' Beetles of Eastern North America from our bookshelf (note the horn, that was the only tricky bit).

Nope, it doesn't get any easier than that.


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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What's in Your Attic?

This is what is in ours.

Or was anyway.

We had some electrical work done, and the contractor had to go into the attic.

And he found it.

He thought is was pretty cool.

Of course, he lives in the area, and is familiar with what one might find here.

Snakes! As evidenced by the shed skin shown here.

Which is no doubt the reason we don't see any evidence of mice in the house. (I've seen mice in the garage, quonset hut, yard, and even in the gas grill! (Although not in the grilling portion. (I still scrubbed it pretty good though.))).

I've also seen a variety of snakes in the yard.


This contractor reacted very differently than our last one. This one thought it was cool that we had snakes in the attic. Our last one, who Patty had used often when she lived in Philadelphia, came running in the house yelling (in a thick Italian accent) "Patty! Patty! There is a snake in the yard!" to which she replied, after grabbing the camera, "Where?"

Monday, September 18, 2017

Yard Critter of the Week - Northern Spring Peeper

Continuing with the baby frogs ...

A Northern Spring Peeper.

Which like the previous YCOTW, was fond on the Mountain Mint in our garden.

Which is a good place to be if you're a frog as it is where the bugs hang out.


I spotted this one while out one night looking for another critter, the one on the left below.

Alistair, our Burmese Cat, who had escaped dashing out while a door was open. Our cats are indoor cats and it can be dangerous out in the wilds of New Jersey at night. Especially for a cat that doesn't hear all that well (if at all). Like us, you'll be happy to learn that he is back in the house safe and sound. Patty found him wandering down the road. The same place he went last time he wandered out.

🐸  πŸΈ  πŸΈ  πŸΈ  πŸΈ

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

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Yard Critter of the Week - Northern Gray Tree Frog

Northern Gray Tree Frog.

(Non-gray variety.)

Scientific name: Hyla versicolor.

(Versicolor = "many colors".)

This is a young one which Patty found on the Mountain Mint in our back garden. And which she promptly captured. You can tell if is a tree frog by the pads on its toes.

It is tiny.

We had at first thought (wished!) that it was a Pine Barrens Tree Frog, which would have been a new species for the yard. But it was not to be.

It is still cool to have found a juvenile of a resident frog we hear throughout the spring, often clinging to the side of our house.


There are two gray tree frog species in New Jersey, the Northern Gray Tree Frog and the Southern Gray Tree Frog (aka Cope's Tree Frog). They look exactly alike and are usually distinguished by their calls, the southern being the more raspy of the two.

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

Monday, September 4, 2017


Hoping to see some warblers we headed out this morning to nearby Long Bridge Park for a nice morning stroll.

In addition to seeing seven species of warblers we found this fellow stroller, an Eastern Box Turtle, wandering down the yellow trail.

If you look closely (click on the image to bigafy it) it appears that our turtle is injured. Just above its head to the left there is what looks like damage to the shell. I hope it is ok.


After our morning stroll I have but 84 miles to go to reach 1000 for the year.

I wonder how many the box turtle has this year?

Peek - A - Boo!

It's migration time, so keep a weather eye out for those hard to see warblers that are no doubt hiding in your garden right now!

See them? They are smack dab in the middle of the pictures.

A Prairie Warbler above and a Common Yellowthroat Warbler below.

These two, along with American Redstart, Ovenbird, and Hooded Warbler were all in our garden yesterday.


So grab your bins, your favorite beverage, and a comfy lawn chair and spend the morning outside, listening to the sounds of the world waking up. And hopefully spotting these colorful migrants as they head south to their wintering grounds. Have fun!

Yard Critter of the Week - Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake.

Attentive readers will recall that this species has been featured on the blog before.

A resident species since before we moved in. We first saw it on our visits here before we bought our place in the wilds of the Pinelands. There have been at least two (seen at the same time), and perhaps more, that have called out ponds home.

That first one was quite calm around humans. So much so that my brother in law didn't believe it was real. The snake was sunning itself just off the deck as we were eating dinner. No way a snake would be that calm with all the commotion just feet away. He (my brother in law Dano, not the snake) jumped back when I touched it and it moved!

(Dano is not a fan of snakes.)

((I don't know what snakes think of Dano. I think he's ok.))

This one is patrolling our back pond, which has plenty of tasty frogs and tadpoles. And just maybe one less sunfish?

🐍  πŸ  πŸ  πŸ  πŸ

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

Saturday, September 2, 2017


There was a Total Solar Eclipse not too long ago right here in the good ole US of A!

(It was in all the papers so I don't know how you could have missed it.)

It looked like this. At least it did from where we saw it.

Which was in Oregon. At the Bandit Springs Trailhead outside of Prineville. Which was the place to be if you didn't want to miss it.

Which we didn't.