Sunday, October 21, 2018

A Proper Tail

Now this is more like it.

Unlike the Eastern Chipmunk featured in the prior post, this one still has a nice big bushy tail.

Both chipmunks were in the yard hovering up the corn we had put out for the turkeys (turns out the turkeys don't like whole corn, but chipmunks and squirrels do).

And they created a nice diversion this Sunday form the boring football on TV.

Look at those chubby cheeks! Our resident chippies will be well fed this winter!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Something Suspicious Is Going On Here ...

... Animals keep losing their tails!

The latest victim, Chippy!

If you look at the first image in this post, you'l see an Eastern Chipmunk with a nice bushy tail.

But this one, no bushy tail.

As with the raccoons, Stumpy and Stumpy Jr, I wonder what happened?

What in our yard is collecting tails?

It does not seem to have any ill effect on our hero, as she (or he) seems to be getting on just fine.

I watch chippy from my home office, dashing across the yard hoovering up seeds for its winter stores.

I hope to be watching next spring as well.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Yard Critter of the Week

Eastern Towhee.

It is the time of year when we get a variety of birds passing through the yard. One such bird is the Eastern Towhee.

At first I didn't notice the bird right outside our living room windows. I was too focused on the other birds visiting the feeders. I quick grabbed the camera and fired off the shot above. And then it moved off into the brush.

Turns out there were three in the garden, two males, shown here, and a female, which was camera shy.

There are plenty of towhees in the forests around us, but few that visit our yard. As can be seen from the site linked above, they like scrubby forest edges. Which would seem to describe our yard. Perhaps  it's just not edgy or scrubby enough. And we just have to settle for the occasional visit, which this year was Thursday evening, October 18th.


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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Yard Critter of the Week

Felis catus, the Domestic Cat.

In the Unwanted Visitor post, I mentioned that we have three cats. They are ...

... Max our youngest at three years old. He is the most active of our cats. ...

... Pumpkin, named not for her color but for the time of year she came into Patty's life. ...

... And Alistair, the oldest of the three and the one who I mentioned went walkabout. Which is problematic as he is deaf and on meds he needs daily.

Being the oldest, he spends most of his time like this:

Actually, they all spend most of the day that way.

Note the purple straps on Alistair. Max too is adorned, in red as seen below.

And this is the mechanism by which Max and Alistair get their outdoors time. Harnesses that we clip a leash to, allowing them to explore the deck and adjacent gardens. And while Max is all about exploring, Alistair is content to hop on a chair in the sun and, you guessed it, sleep!

Pumpkin on the other hand (paw?) has little interest in the outdoor world. Curious.

Max will spend hours outside and readily runs to the back door whenever Patty or I walk through the kitchen. Rain or shine he wants out. But it is only "shine" for which he wants to stay out.

Max is also the 'best' at getting out when we're not paying attention. Zipping out the door at the slightest chance. On several occasions he's spent the night out. Pumpkin will wander out if we, or a guest, leave a door open. But she quickly gets her fix and returns inside. Alistair will wander out and will either stop and wait for you to come and attach his leash or hop on a chair on his own. However, we came to call him Houdini as he was able to wriggle out of the first harness we used. Unsupervised like this he would wander off, and twice we found him on the road heading toward the neighbor's place. Not good for a deaf cat.

But as you can see, we've found a way for our indoor cats to get some controlled outdoor time. Good for them, good for us, and good for all the other yard critters.


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

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Little Oppie

The past couple of nights we have had a small Virginia Opossum visit our feeder gardens.

We had often wondered why, as we have adults frequent the feeders on a regular basis, why we haven't seen any young. Nor mom's with babies.

This youngster is clearly on its own. And very skittish. Any loud noise we make in the living room sends it scurrying off into the woods.

It is a big scary world out there. We hope it does well.


Friday, October 12, 2018

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


Tis the season for Monarch Butterflies to head south to Mexico. And we have had a steady stream flowing through our gardens the past few weeks.

Look closely at the image below and you'll see two nectaring on the flowers.

And here are three more:

These were taken as I walked about the yard. Not all of the butterflies were this cooperative, others fluttered away as I approached; these must have been very hungry from their journey.

We maintain our yard and gardens as a haven for wildlife, including Monarchs. And this year have been rewarded with many species of butterflies and other insects.

During the summer Patty raised many Monarchs from eggs and caterpillars, and chronicled it in these posts: Monarch Madness, Future ButterfliesThe Future is Now. Although we later learned that this may not be such a good thing for the species.

But they seem to be doing well on their own, as I took this image of a chrysalis on October 8th.

And the next morning it hatched. This was one of several chrysalides found around the yard.

Alas, not all of them make it to Mexico, as this wing on the driveway attests. It is a long a arduous journey, being made by a creature that weighs less than a paperclip. Simply amazing.


Anecdotally, it has been a good year for Monarch Butterflies.

You can track the Monarch Butterflies along the Atlantic Coast at the Monarch Monitoring Project site. I hope you have some visiting your yard.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Yard Critter of the Week

Cerastipsocus venosus, also known as Psocid Barklice.

The images in this post show mostly nymphs, although if you look closely you'll see an adult or two.  These are herd insects and as my go to guy when it comes to insects, John Maxwell, told me, "... you can chase them with your finger and the entire flock tries to stay together. ..." Safety in numbers perhaps?

While they look kinda scary, especially to insectphobes, they are harmless to humans and beneficial to one's yard.

Functioning as tree cleaners, they feed on fungi, dead bark, lichens, and algae, keeping the bark free of debris.

And they are just cool to look at and play around with.


Thanks to John Maxwell for identifying this species.

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

Monday, October 8, 2018

Smug Alert!

Steve and I were out and about in the P3 this past weekend where I was getting over 200 MPG.

And we delivered the tiny tailless baby raccoon ...

... to the Cedar Run Wildlife rehab center.

In P3.

Later that morning we took Pto the Pinelands Preservation Alliance ...

... to pick up some native plants at their bi-annual Native Plant Sale.

And since they have a charging station there ...

Note the rainbow and sunbeams.
... my P took part in the sacrament of electricity.


Thanks to guest blogger Patty Rehn. The words and images are hers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

On The Grill

And that my friends is the answer to the question posed at the end of What's In Your Dishwasher post.

We decided on steak for dinner and when I took the cover off the grill, who should I find but my good pal Froggy.

I don't know if this is the same one from the dishwasher or the deck chair, we do have quite a few about the yard. But it is a Northern Gray Tree Frog.

It seemed content to hang out on the shelf, but I would need that space. And it was gonna get bit warm. So when it didn't move I tried to help it along, picking it up and giving it a lift to the garden.

But it decided it liked my foot better. And hung out there while I put the steak and potatoes on the grill (they turned out very yummy). Eventually it hopped away.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


Last Friday I traded in my 2010 Pious for a 2018 Pious Prime Plug-in (hereafter referred to as the "Pious Prime Plug-in", aka P3).

Out with the old and in with the new!
The Prius was first manufactured in 1997, but did not hit the US market until the early 2000s. They quickly became a popular green car. So much so that in 2006 South Park made an episode about hybrid cars entitled "Smug Alert!". In this episode "The citizens of South Park resolve not to drive hybrids, since they can't do so without being smug." The hybrid car in the show looked exactly like a Prius; however it was called a "Pious".

It is pretty cool to plug in my car and use solar power to charge it.


My mileage this past weekend. I'll let you know when or if I ever have to put gas in my tank. πŸ˜‰


Thanks to guest blogger Patty Rehn. The words and images are hers.

What's In Your Dishwasher?

I was loading up the dishwasher this past Friday morning and when I closed the cover to the soap compartment I found this had been hiding under it:

A Northern Gray Tree Frog.

I have no idea how it found it's way into the house. Or once in, why it chose the dishwasher as it's hiding place. How long had it been there? How long had it been in the house? (See below for a possible explanation.)

I caught it and released it out on our deck. Note the color difference. It seems they can change their color based on the background. Which explains the scientific name, Hyla versicolor.

Although why it choose this color is not obvious.


This is a decorative pitcher.

And it is very likely the vehicle by which the frog entered the house. We keep it outside on our deck with cut flowers from our garden. Thursday evening Patty brought it in the house, rinsed it out, and put it upside down in the dishwasher to dry. I surmise that the frog was clinging to the inside all the while. As we have three cats it was smart to hideout in the dishwasher overnight.


Saturday morning I took a cup of coffee outside to enjoy it while sitting on our deck. We keep our deck chairs covered, so as to protect them form the dew and provide for dry seating first thing in the morning. Apparently the tree frogs appreciate this as well.

Had I not been paying attention I would have sat on it.

I wonder where I'll find one tomorrow.

Monday, October 1, 2018

We So Need A Fence

Damn Deer.

There were FIVE of these garden destroyers in the yard this morning.


They walked up and started munching on the plants. So I changed form photographer mode to "get the hell out of my yard" mode.


We've spoken with several friends who have installed deer fences who are very happy with the results. As noted elsewhere in this blog, we've had success with the Wireless Deer Fence, but there are just too many deer in the area.

A logistics issue we face is that we don't want to change the look and feel of the yard, so we'll need to  put the fence through the woods.


So stay tuned for the invitation to the fence hanging party!