Monday, April 29, 2019

Yard Critter of the Week - Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar

Giant Leopard Moth

Shown first in the caterpillar phase of its life cycle.

Patty discovered the caterpillar while working in the garden. All black until it curled into a defensive posture, bristles pointing out, where the red bands became apparent. Very cool looking.

We had seen the moths when we set up our moth sheet, but this was our first caterpillar.

The moth below visited in June of 2015. As you can see, they're cool looking too.

It's not obvious at first, but the "all black" spots are actually blue spots with a black border (bigafy to see).

🐛  🦋  🐛  🦋  🐛

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

Bad Bird Photo of the Week

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are tiny little things. Less than four and a half inches long and weighing but three tenths of an ounce. Tiny little things.

That never stop moving.

The bird is slightly left of center in the image above. the bird was ten feet or so outside my kitchen window. And I was using a 600 mm lens*.

Tiny little things. Always on the go, chasing tasty bugs.

A bit further left of center now (in the next image the bird was out of the frame). They look like miniature mocking birds. And have a high pitched buzzing call. They are common in our area.

But if you blink, you'll miss them.

Speedy little things.

🐦  🔭  🐦  🔭  🐦

* A 150-600mm lens, at 165mm for these shots. I didn't have time to zoom in.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

April Flowers

Meanwhile, back in the yard ...

Common Blue Violet

The state flower of New Jersey. Also of Illinois, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. (I wonder which had it first?*)

Lance-leaf Violet

Both violets appeared in our yard without human intervention. That cannot be said for all of the flowers in this post.

Woodland Poppy

I think this is Greater Celandine, a non-native species.

Virginia Bluebells

We have some of the pink ones in the yard as well.

Jacob's Ladder


Wild Geranium

Bleeding Heart





Golden Ragwort

Crab Apple

Highbush Blueberry



These definitely required human intervention.


I hope spring is happening in your yard too.

🌺  🌸  🌼

* Wikipedia is your friend: it's Illinois, 1907.

Also in the Yard

These fungi.

A species of sac fungi.

I first noticed them in the bog garden.

 But they are sprouting all about our feeder garden.

I think they are Peziza phyllogena, commonly known as "brown cup" or "pig-ear cup".

Whatever they are, they are cool.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

April Flowers

On the way home from Shenks Ferry we decided to stop by the Holland Ridge Farms Tulip Festival. When we arrived we were surprised how crowded it was. And we were disappointed that it was raining. So we drove by and made our way home.

We decided to visit Tuesday evening after Patty finished teaching. Barb and I drove up to meet Patty at the farm. We arrived at almost the same time and wound up parking next to each other. Which is no small feat when you see how many people were there.

At $8 per person (bought online; $10 at the farm) these folks were raking in the cash.


The shot above was from the far end of the flower area. And I had to wait to get the foreground free of people. But notice the people and cars in the background.


With clever framing and cropping, and a bit of photoshopping, I was able to get a number of people free shots.

But most times this was the best I could do. And often I didn't even try. Too many peoples.

It was an impressive display, with "millions" of tulips.

But I'm not sure that I'd call this a "festival". It was a field with tulips. That you could walk around in.

Or, as like Patty, tiptoe through.

There was a big wooden shoe. That Patty took over from this little girl.

And a hay ride, which cruised around the tulip field.

And off in a corner where pony rides. And I spotted a food truck off in another corner. Neither adjacent to the tulip field. We did not visit these 'attractions'.

But the tulips were the real attraction.

And the number and variety was impressive. Perhaps not as impressive as in Holland, but pretty good for New Jersey. And much easier to get to.

🌷  🌷  🌷  🌷  🌷

The three of us agreed that this 'Festival' was worth visiting once. So we're all good.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Shenks Ferry

Shenks Ferry is named after a fellow named "Shenks" (duh!) who, wait for it ... ran a ferry.  Providing service across the Susquehanna River many years ago. Most of the land in the area had been cleared for farming with that which is now the Wildflower Preserve returning to forest only in 1970.

Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve is a little over eighty acres in size, with the main trail following above a steam for 1.7 miles round trip.

There are flowers both sides of the trail.

Bluebells and Trillium above, Mayapples below, albeit not yet in bloom (although there were some up the hill which were).

The trail ends at some rocks. Look closely and you'll see a bit of dirty snow in the hole.

Cool air was blowing out the holes and cracks in the rocks and some locals we met along the trail told us that it is refreshing to sit and cool down before walking back to one's car on hot summer days.

Along with a tunnel for the stream.

I do not know what the numbers mean. Nor why such a structure was built.

There were also the ruins of an old bridge.

Leading one to wonder about this place's former life.

The trail was well maintained and easy to follow.

With informative yet unobtrusive signs along the way. Some easier to read than others.

How long does a tree take to eat a sign anyways?

It was a bit cool while we visited, although it warmed up later in the day. And thus there weren't many bugs about.

A couple of caterpillars.

And what I think is an assassin bug nymph.

Along with bees buzzing about the flowers.

All in all a very nice way to spend the morning. We finished with lunch at our car, parked on the side of the road with the view above (there is no visitors center and but a small dirt parking lot, but there is a porta-potty). Look closely you can see people on the other side heading up the trail.

As I mentioned in the prior post, well worth repeated visits.