Monday, July 6, 2020

View From the Bench ...

... in the Bench Garden.

A pano, click to view bigafied

Here's a close up of the Bee Balm patch.

Last year, the house would have been completely visible, as the Bee Balm is 'chocolate cake' to deer.

That deer fence was a great investment.

The Busy (Mini) Bog

I noticed a hole in the Mini-Bog.

So I set the trail up to see what was going on.

This is what I found.

A baby Eastern Cottontail. Thankfully, it seemed disinterested in the four remaining Swamp Pinks.

Eastern Chipmunks, at least two. The one above, with the stumpy tail. Perhaps better seen below.

And another, tail intact.

I'm not sure which one is responsible for the holes.

A couple of birds also stopped by.

A Carolina Wren. One of many we have in the yard.

And an Ovenbird, more often seen then heard.

But clearly, it was the Chipmunk, or Munks, which were responsible for the holes.

Meadow Beauties

It's that time of year again.

Meadow Beauty Time.

Virginia Meadow Beauty in the Bog.

And the Maryland variety in the back 'Grassland'.

It is nice to have some certainty these days.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

More Trees

This is an arial view of Piney Place. Where we live. The large white rectangle is our neighbor to the west. The white 'dot' to the right of that is our place.

Slightly forested. But a few open areas.

So Patty decided we needed another tree.

And thus we took delivery of a ten foot tall White Oak, Quercus alba.

Wait, what?

Yep, Coals to Newcastle.

(I've been to Newcastle. I saw no coal.)

We rolled the Oak out to get familiar with the local trees.

While I dug a hole.

It's got some growing to do. But so far, it seems happy in its new home.

Gotta be better than that little pot.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A Friend Comes Through Again

The other day I spotted this critter ambling across the deck. Obviously, I took a picture. Actually, I took a bunch of pictures, this is the only one that was any good.

Once on my computer I set out to ID it. I used two main references in this endeavor.

BugGuide, which had the image linked here. Go look, and note the submitter of the image.

And the book, Beetles of Eastern North America, by Arthur V. Evans, which had this image:

Image courtesy John Maxwell via Arthur Evan, albeit used without permission.*

Hmmm ... one of the reasons to use multiple references is to get multiple views of the critter as each individual is different.

So essentially I was down to one reference.

Now go look at this post. Read it to the end (it's short) and note who I credit with helping to ID that critter.

Even when I try to not to bug (pun!) him and ID things on my own he's still helping out.

Thanks John.

And if you were wondering, it is a Variegated June Beetle, Polyphylla variolosa.

🐞  🐞  🐞  🐞  🐞

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

* I used it here without permission. Arthur Evans had permission to use it in his book. I think.

Weekend Getaway

This past weekend Patty and I, and our friend Marie, traveled to Tionesta, PA for the weekend.

And when we arrived at the Black Caddis Ranch I got out of the car and looked up.

A harbinger of things to come, as we arrived on Friday and it rained all day Saturday.

But we were there for what came out after dark. And it didn't rain Friday or Saturday evenings.

Which as a good thing.

More to come ...

Grapevine Beetle

This is a Grapevine Beetle, Pelidnota punctata.

We have no grapevines in the yard. And I'm not aware of any in the area. And the adults feed on grape foliage and fruit.

So what is it doing in our yard?

Other than hanging on the moth sheet, I don't know.

Maybe it was just passing through?

It is also called the "Spotted June Bug", which is a much better name, as it does have spots. And I did see it in June. And most people would call it a bug.

I hope it finds some grapes. We do have some in the fridge ...

🐞  🐞  🐞  🐞  🐞

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

For Large Values of Three

Last night we set up the moth sheet. And a new moth for the yard (I think) paid a visit.

A Harris's Three Spot, Harrisimemna trisignata.

I don't know about you, but I don't think Mr. Harris was all that good at counting.

I mean, I can count nine spots without even trying.

Just sayin'.

🦋  🦋  🦋  🦋  🦋

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

More Frogs Are On The Way

Green frogs can be found all about our yard.

It helps that we have four ponds. And live in a wet area.

I little under a year ago I had installed the fourth pond, and almost immediately Green Frogs showed up. And the frogs were back again earlier this year. But This month I noticed the frogs were not frequenting this little pond. It seems the water had become stagnant and a just a little bit stinky.

So I cleaned it out. The water is still a bit cloudy. But it seems it is clean enough.

And now there are eggs.

Lots of eggs.

Which hopefully means lots more frogs.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Daylight Time

Patty visited her brother last week. She gave him some plants from our gardens.

He gave her a time piece that had been their father's.

A sundial. Jim, her brother, thought I might like it.

He was right. Patty thought it would look nice out in the garden. I think she meant just set on the ground. As it had a mounting screw hole I was thinking on a post, and told her so.

"Like on a stump?" she asked. Hmmm ...


Monday, June 22, 2020

Roosting Wren

Yesterday we visited friends for an outdoor, physically distanced, but socially close, Murder Mystery dinner.

We've not yet solved the murder, although we've ruled out two suspects. The next detective session is in two weeks at our place.

But this post is about what was waiting when we got home.

This Carolina Wren.

Which has been roosting outside out back door for what seems like at least a month now.

Most nights, should we be returning home after dark (I know, rare these days), the bird flies as soon as we approach the back door.

Perhaps it is getting used to us?

🐦  🐦  🐦  🐦  🐦

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

A New Turtle In Town

The other morning in I was in our bathroom, doing what one does in such a room when I heard a commotion outside. Something or someone was banging around on the door to our crawl space.

It was a turtle.

An Eastern Painted Turtle. This was not the place it should be.

That's better. Now we have two Eastern Painted Turtles living in our back pond. Hamster, on the left, and the new one, yet to be named (make suggestions in the comments) on the right.

And while Hamster will swim right up to me, expecting to be fed, the new one is very shy. Heading to the center of the pond, amongst the water lilies, at the slightest sign of us. It took awhile to get this image.

Now, last Friday, I went out to get the lawnmower, which is in one of our outbuildings. Near the back pond. And I find the new turtle digging a hole. The turtle freezes, hoping I won't notice. I go into the building to get the mower, and when I come out the turtle is gone.

Bummer. Sorry.

So I go mow the front yard, leaving the back to the turtles. And sure enough it went back and started digging again.

I set up at a respectful distance, and watched as it went about its turtle business.

And when she was done I went up and found this:

I covered it up for the night, to protect any eggs from the local raccoons, fox, and other predators.

And the next day I built this:

The pond is in the background.

I finished it with cinder blocks to dissuade digging.

And in 72 days we hope to have baby turtles, eager to get to the safety of the pond.

So set a reminder to check back in just under two and a half months.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Carranza Road

Not far from where we live, the paved road turns to dirt. And it is at this spot that we reliably see Common Nighthawks.

It is a rather out of the way place, well within the Wharton State Forest. And I expected we'd be alone out there.

I was wrong.

The Common Nighthawks were there.

Peenting and Booming.

And we enjoyed watching them.

When we drove up there we saw a truck. Maybe they're here to see the Nighthawks, as this is a well known place. Turns out they were not.

"Is that your truck?" the driver of the truck we saw asked us. Seems there was another truck parked here. This truck:

"Nope", I replied.

Seems the folks in the first truck saw a dog looking around the second truck. And the folks in the first truck assumed the worst, that the dog's owner was in trouble. And as there was no cell service here, they drove off to call the police,

While they were gone, we heard someone calling in the distance. It turns out that the person was calling for the dog.

Eventually the police came.

And came.

And came.

I guess it was a slow night.

And they went wandering down the trail.

Unfortunately for use, they left the SUVs running. So much for solitude.

During this time a black Jeep Cherokee drove up, saw the police cars, turned around and drove away. And ten minutes later did the same thing. And a sports car that had no business being on the dirt road drove up, sat for a bit, and then left. A rendezvous interrupted?

Eventually the cops came back. With no info on the dog, the owners of the truck, nor the person calling.

Two of the three cops left. One sat there and waited. SUV running. While we sat in our chairs, watching the Nighthawks.

Eventually a family of four, mom, dad, son, daughter, and a dog, came up the trail. To their truck. The cop got out to greet them. They thanked us for our concern, despite my saying it wasn't us who called the cops on them.

They left. The cop left.

We stayed and watched the Nighthawks. And listened to the Whippoorwills.

And we liked it so much we went back two days later. We were alone this time.

Much nicer without engines running.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Mis-Identifying Frogs with High-tech

I have a one of those pocket computers we call phones. Specifically an iPhone XS. And since it is a computer it can run computer applications. Which are nowadays called "apps".

And one of those apps is Seek, from the iNaturalist folks.* It is used to identify and log plants and animals you come across, and can get a picture of.

I spotted this critter out by our back pond.

A Southern Leopard frog. And I thought I'd use the Seek app to log my sighting.

This is what it told me:

Now my phone has a GPS feature. And had the Seek app taken advantage of this feature, it could have determined that I was well outside of the range of the Northern Leopard Frog. It's not even clear that this species occurs in New Jersey, and if it does it is in the far northwestern corner of the state.

I did get a badge, the hexagon thing, for logging my first amphibian sighting. So there is that.

* These are the same folks whose other app, iNaturalist, told me a Marmot was likely a mushroom. And when I  pointed this out to their support rep, I was told this was correct behavior. And that it could have been a mushroom.

I guess this is a case of fool me once ...

Orange Tanager

Some Scarlet Tanagers aren't.

They're 'Orange' Tanagers instead.

Like this one that visited the our bird baths.

It is always cool to see a Scarlet Tanager in the yard. To say nothing of having them splash around just outside our living room. A visual treat for sure.

🥕  🍅  🥕  🍅  🥕

The red color of bird feathers comes mainly from pigments the food they eat, in the form of carotenoids. The same pigments that make tomatoes red and carrots and pumpkins orange. I gather this fellow was eating from the orange end of the food chain.