Sunday, June 30, 2019

One Down, Two To Go

In my last post about our 'War on Deer' I noted that while the fence was up there was still work to do. Including installing three gates.

Make that two gates, as one has been installed. It took two days, mainly because it was too hot to do it in one.

This is the temporary fence across the 'Wildlife Walk' path. This was coming down.

Shown here is the frame for the gate. I needed to dig a pair of two foot holes which, once the poles were in, I filled with rocks and cement. I got lucky with the left side hole, the first attempt hit a three or four inch diameter root (I didn't bother to dig completely around it). My second attempt went between that root and another large root. The right side hole hit no roots issues.

After letting the concrete set for six plus hours it was hard enough to hang the gate.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn
Let me in!

Image courtesy Patty Rehn
Oh wait, it opens. (Or I could have squeezed between the gate and the trees.)

Finished, the gaps between the gate and trees has been fenced off. No more squeezing.

The deer's view. The fencing is a bit more obvious here.

The gate, a kit ordered from the McGregor Fence Company, is five feet wide and seven feet tall. Curiously, the gate pipes come predrilled while those of the frame are not. Necessitating a trip to Lowes for a 5/16" metal drill bit. Otherwise it was very straightforward to install. I expect the next two to be a bit more involved.

Morning Sun

One of the nice things about not having a job is taking my morning coffee on the deck, relaxing with no rush to do anything or be anywhere.

I so wish I was retired.

And some mornings I see things like this.

Sunbeams in the garden.

Alas ephemeral. And in the time it took to get the camera the display had faded.

But I saw it.

I so prefer not working.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Yard Critter of the Week - Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern Box Turtle

I found this fine specimen wandering down our back driveway one morning. It was in a bit of a hurry and didn't want anything to do with me, quickly scrambling over this log and off into the woods.

It was one of three I saw this morning, the other two on my morning walk.
🐢  🐢  🐢  🐢  🐢

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

Emergency Takeoff

Something else I saw while looking up in the sky on the Mallows Bay trip, a helicopter.

What's so unusual about a seeing helicopter in the sky you ask? Well, the only reason I noticed it is because it took off from the southbound lanes of I95 in Delaware, while I was next to it on the northbound lanes. I was so focused on the flashing lights ahead I never saw it until it was in the air.

And that's not something you see everyday.

And like the halo, I was the only one of our group to see it, as Patty was asleep in the passengers seat, and we were all scattered on highways, well on our way home.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Looking At The Sun

While everyone was focused on the Ghost Ships at Mallows Bay, I, as I am wont to do, looked up.

And saw a 22° halo and cloud iridescence.

I doubt anyone else noticed.

Alas, I had not a wide enough lens to capture it all.

And the camera I did have made it hard to compose the shots.

But I'm glad with what I got. And I thought it was cool.

It's That Time Of Year

The Monarchs are on the Milkweed.

Soon there will be cocoons.

And then butterflies.


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Weekend Wanderings ... Mallows Bay

I've written before about our friend Marie, who celebrated her milestone birthday N (the "Big N"!) last year and put together a list of N items to do in her Nth year. And as I wrote then several items have spilled over into the next year. Which is the case with this item.

Marie had arranged for a kayak tour of the WWI Ghost Fleet of shipwrecks at Mallows Bay last year. Alas, the weather did not cooperate, and the tour was canceled.

Marie, at right in the image above, is smiling because she is in a kayak on Mallows Bay. Ginger, in front, is listening intently to our guide, Kim.

We (where "We" = "Marie") arranged our tour through Atlantic Kayak Company. That's Kim, tour guide and company owner, in the red kayak. Kim did an excellent job (as did Marie).

The Ghost Fleet of wooden cargo ships, were built for WWI efforts to transport cargo to Europe. They never made a single trip, as the war was over before they were put into service. You can read all about it here, in a much better way than I could do.

As you might imagine wooden ships, seventy plus years old, that have gone through several rounds of salvage, are not in very good shape.

This is the first one we paddled up to. In fact, the best way to tell where the ships are is to look for islands.

Here's another 'ship'. There are the remains of over a hundred ships in the bay.

As you get close you can see the remains poking through the vegetation.

Well, relatively close.

Not all the ships have turned into islands.

This shot gives an idea how wide the ships were.

Here we're looking up the middle of the ship.

And list shot shows where the rudder was attached, at the stern.

Some of the ships are in 'better' shape than others.

For very small values of better.

The ship in the background above, with the Osprey on the bow, is the same as shown in the earlier linked article (although there have been a couple of fires between that picture and mine). We went around the back as the Osprey was on a nest with chicks so as not to disturb them.  The ships have become a haven for wildlife. Both above and below the water line.

We saw plenty of birds, like the Osprey, making use of the 'islands'. Fish and plants inhabit the artificial reefs.

Turtles abound.

As did butterflies. We think this is a Giant Swallowtail, on Pickerel Weed.

Over the years, other boats have been abandoned here. Like the ferry shown above. The owners sailed it up the river and just left it to rot away.

And rotting it is. Done before the enactment of environmental laws, the owners faced no consequences at the abandonment.

We spent approximately three hours out among the fleet. And while we didn't see any ghosts, we saw a cool bit of history. After which we headed off for crabs and beer. A very nice day.

🛶  🚢  🛶  🚢  🛶

Thanks to Marie for finding this place and arranging the tour. 

Thanks to Pat and Elani (in the blue kayak) for hosting us for the weekend (great food and coffee!). 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Hamster's Holiday

When we were looking at this place, prior to buying it, the then owners showed us a turtle that lived in the back pond. I wrote about it here.

Take some time, click the link and read the post. And when you're done and continue on here.

Welcome back.

So yesterday, we had two boy scouts over, our friend Barb's nephew and a fellow troop member, to look at our yard and what we did to support wildlife, as part of the requirements for the Environmental Science merit badge.

And when we got to the back pond I pointed out two Northern Water Snakes. Someone asked about turtles and I told the story of Hamster, which you read about when you clicked the link above.

You did click the link and read the post right?

Then someone spotted something swimming toward us and said, "there's another snake". Here's what we saw swimming toward us.

It wasn't a snake, but rather a turtle.

In fact it was the same turtle, Hamster. Who came up looking for food, and actually bit my finger as I was pointing him* out to people.

Hamster was out enjoying the sun this morning, although a bit more wary today, not swimming right up to me.

I walked over to our neighbors place to let them know Hamster was visiting our pond, but they weren't home. So I left them a note.

They called as I was making dinner (yummy salmon) and I told them to come on over to collect him. Alas, Hamster was not around when they came over. They told us not to worry, as Hamster goes on walkabout on a regular basis, and he may already be on the way back home.

But if not, Hamster is welcome to stay for as long as she wants. And I hope the stay is enjoyable.

🐢  🐢  🐢  🐢  🐢

* When our neighbors Kim and Ryan came over to take Hamster home, and told us they don't know if it is a male or female. English needs a good gender neutral pronoun.

Bloom Time

Trumpet Vine, a plant so easy to grow that it is considered invasive in many places.

Easy to grow everywhere except our yard. Our friend Bernie has given us plants from his yard on several occasions. The transplants have never been successful.

Yet this one is growing from behind our oil tank. How it got there is anybodies guess.

But there it is.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Patty is always on the look out for things to do and one such thing was a visit to Elk Country in Pennsylvania to see, you guessed it, Elk.

She found a B&B for us to stay at, and picked a weekend in June to visit, so as to see the young Elk. And then I lost my job, so I wasn't constrained by PTO time limits. So we switched to a midweek trip, to avoid the crowds. And off we went.

We saw our first two Elk while driving up the road to the B&B. Munching away, completely unconcerned with the passing cars.

We stayed in a town named Benezette, or Benezett, there seems to be a difference of opinion as to the final "e" in the name. Regardless, the town is home to the Elk Country Visitor Center, depicted above, at which there were a number of short trails that lead to viewing areas. We attempted to walk them on the first evening, but were rained out. We returned and walked them the next day (in the afternoon as it rained all morning).

And we did see Elk there.

The images above and below show a mother and calf. The mother is clearly visible in both, the calf better seen in the image below, the brown under the large branch in the center.

Definitely BVD (Better View Desired).

And while we would not get a better view of these two than the one above (still not good), we would get better views of moms and calves. Much better.

This one was just inside the entrance to the Center. In both cases we were alerted to the presence of Elk by others who had spotted them and were looking.

There were a number of elk viewing areas in town and in the surrounding area, Including this one, within walking distance from our B&B.

And in the evening the Elk come to Winslow Hill to eat.

The black circles in this one's ears are tags.

And relax.

Seems they like to lie down in the tall grass, sometimes disappearing from view.

While chatting with the locals at the viewing area, we learned of a big male just down the road. So off we went.

We found him, albeit on private land. And he wandered out of view after only a few shots.

We saw him again, and a few of his pals, on our last morning there. At the same place as the first time.

Imagine having this fellow in your yard. I don't think our deer fence would be enough to keep him out.

We also saw him and his buddies in the parking area of one of the viewing areas our second morning. And just as were getting some good pictures some yahoo and his family drive up, and said yahoo gets our of the car drinking a Miller. Really, 8:00 am and you choose Miller? No way Miller is a breakfast beer (and it isn't a good beer any other time for that matter).

Of course, they scared off the Elk. Bozos.

We spent three very nice days in Elk Country and saw plenty of Elk. We are already planning a return visit, this time in the fall rutting season.