Saturday, May 30, 2020

Deja Vu All Over Again

Take a look at this post, "Life Too ...".

Nest on light? Check.
Nest made with moss? Check.
Four chicks? Check.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

The Eastern Phoebes were back this year. I noted in this post, More Fun With Tools, that they had not nested on the light fixtures last year. So I built a nesting platform. And I cleaned the old nests off of the lights.

Different this year is the use of deer hair in the nest construction.

And if you were wondering, the nest platform when unused.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Guard-er Snake

This critter has been hanging out just outside our front door.

Hidden in the Pennsylvania Sedge. An Eastern Garter Snake.

Today was the first day it did not zip away as I approached. Maybe it is growing accustomed to my presence. Much like the water snakes which don't care about me anymore.

This is where it hangs out. Guarding our front door.

The door that we don't really use.

Not the only door guarded by a snake (that door we do use).

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

One Born Every Minute ...

Hmmm ...

Which would you claim? I know math is hard* but come on!

(I chose neither.)

➕  ➖  ➗  ✖️

* Ok, math isn't really hard.

Mothing Is Easy

Even I can identify one once in a while.

What is it?

A Common Spring Moth.

Yes, but what is it?

A Common Spring Moth.

I get that it is common, and seen in the spring, and is a moth ...

 πŸ€·‍♂️  πŸ€·‍♂️  πŸ€·‍♂️  πŸ€·‍♂️  πŸ€·‍♂️

I don't make the names up.

My first reaction upon seeing it was, bird poop.

πŸ¦‹  πŸ¦‹  πŸ¦‹  πŸ¦‹  πŸ¦‹

Thanks to Kristi Cooper for spotting it as we wandered about the Rancocas Nature Center grounds.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Mothing is Hard

This is a Variable Reddish Pyrausta (Pyrausta rubricalis).

Once again it was my friend Ann-Marie (NJPineways) who ID this critter for me. Another common moth, perhaps the most common Pyrausta in our area.

Which makes it all the more curious that this moth is not in the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America, an otherwise excellent guide.

Which is my excuse for not being able to identify this moth.

πŸ¦‹  πŸ¦‹  πŸ¦‹  πŸ¦‹  πŸ¦‹

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

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!

Or rather it was Teacher Appreciation Week.

May 3rd through 9th to be exact (for 2020 anyways).

To show appreciation for the teacher who lives here, this appeared one morning:

Specifically the morning of May 21st.

Maybe they were just getting a jump on next year?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Getting Busy by the Pond

I was doing some pond maintenance the other day when I noticed a lady beetle in an overhanging  branch. And then I noticed another lady beetle. And another.  And another ...

I stopped counting at thirty.

It seems the tree was a singles bar for lady beetles.

And some were hooking up.

These are Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles, although it is rather obvious not all of them are ladies.

The pond is a busy place.

Mothing is Hard

This is a Bicolored Swallow (Sunira bicolorago) which is not displaying any bicoloration.

Fortunately, I have a number of mothing friends who I bug (pun!) with ID requests. And my friend Ann-Marie (go look at her website. GO!) was kind enough to ID this one.

She explained that this moth is one of the common moths seen around here in December, which is when I saw it. And that it appears very worn. Which is no doubt why it didn't look like anything like the image in the field guide.

At least that is what I tell myself.

πŸ¦‹  πŸ¦‹  πŸ¦‹  πŸ¦‹  πŸ¦‹

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

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Mystery

Last August, after we returned from our Iceland adventure, I was out getting the mail when a fellow came from the house across the street. He introduced himself and then asked if anyone lived in the house. I said that we just got back from vacation, and that there had been people living there before we left. He then said that he had just bought the place and it seemed that there was still stuff in the house.

It turned out the place had been foreclosed, and he had bought it to fix and flip. Fast forward to today and we now have new neighbors, mom, dad, and one child with another on the way.

But that's not what this post is about.

During the time the house was being renovated we noticed another fellow putting pink ribbons on trees directly across the street from us. Fearing that the land was being marked for development, we wandered over to ask what was going on. He explained he was from Budds Bogs, a local cranberry and blueberry farm, and this was a part of that property. They had recently allowed deer hunting on their land, and were looking for another route in. It turned out that it was too swampy a hundred or so yards in for that. And no, they weren't planning on developing the land.

But that's not what this post is about.

He did tell us we were welcome to explore the land back there, as long as we didn't take anything. And explore we did. Where we is mostly Patty.

The way in.

It's been awhile since the owner of this boot was back there.

And that's what this post is about. The mystery I hinted at in the You Can Tell It's Been Awhile post.

Budds Bogs has two places where their property abuts our street. And in-between are a number of other properties. Including the place with the chair.

There has been a Barred Owl calling, day and night, of late. And last weekend Patty and I decided to see if we could find it. We did not. Times three. As there were three owls calling that day.

And as we were chasing down the owl we wandered onto the 'chair' property.

Like our place, much of the property had the telltale sign of having once been a blueberry farm.

Unlike our place, it is clear no one has been here in quite some time.

And that is the mystery.

The structures were in various states of disrepair. Most with fallen branches or trees on them.

Fallen timber was everywhere.

Someone had gone through a lot of work to make this place.

Look at all the stone in these pictures. That was all brought in, the stream dug out, and the stones placed there, and lining paths, ringing trees.

Not obvious as it is so overgrown, but a large concrete pipe was placed to allow for a land bridge over the stream.

And two wooden bridges were installed as well.

What happened to the owners?

Artifacts left in places where they were expected to be used, left unused but for the moss.

Note obvious in these images, but someone had planted daffodils about the camp.

I have  friends who have a property in upstate New York. Their 'weekend' get away place. I could see this being a similar place.

A country retreat, that was slowly (?) being built up.

Only to slowly breakdown.

What had this been? Or intended to be?

This is the front gate. More fallen timber behind it, been there going on a year now. The mailbox has fallen as well. The gate, no longer on its post, simply chained on both sides.

What disaster struck that led to the place being abandoned? Why do so much work to just abandon it?

A mystery.

The Spider and the Fly

Crane Fly, that is, the giant mosquito looking insect. Too far gone for me to ID.

And the spider is a Dimorphic Jumper, (Maevia inclemens for all the Latin fans out there). Which you may recall from the Fun With Spiders post.

No parlour has this spider.

Same result for the fly however.

πŸ•·  πŸ•·  πŸ•·  πŸ•·  πŸ•·

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

Friday, May 22, 2020


For the Battle of the Septic Mound.

Wild Strawberry, Fragaria viginiana, a native ground cover. I ordered ten plants and received fourteen. Maybe they propagated in transit?

So I created a buffer zone between the 'lawn' and the Pennsylvania Sedge.

And then I took some old shelving we had in the garage and used it as a border. Hopefully it will keep the weeds out of the 'de-weedified' zone. Including this one.

My fingers are crossed.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Max and the Snake

I've mentioned before that I'm woking from home, and see snakes outside. I've also mentioned that our cat Max likes to go outside, and we keep him on a leash.

And today it all came together.

The view from my desk as Max and I spot the Northern Water Snake.


Off to investigate (note the leash).

I don't think they are gonna be friends.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Study In Scarlet

Bird study that is.

Just outside our dining room window is one of our garden hoses. And last Friday I noticed the hose was moving. Of course it wasn't the hose (not windy enough) it was a Northern Water Snake.

Alas, I was working, and by the time I got outside, the snake had slithered away.


But then, I heard, "chick burr, chick burr", and I stopped looking down and started looking up.

Not the first time  we've had a Scarlet Tanager in the yard, but the first time I had a camera.

It has been here for three days now. It would be great if it would stay, but I'm not optimistic as they've teased before.

🐦  πŸ¦  πŸ¦  πŸ¦  πŸ¦

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


Like many people, I'm working from home these days. And everyday around ten o'clock or so I take a break and wander about the yard.

And last Thursday, while I was out at the back pond, there was a very loud BOOM! And then a second boom! 

And the power went out. 


Then this:

By the time I got there there were already several people at the scene. Including my neighbor Steve and a fellow on his cellphone. I assumed this was someone calling for help. And it was. Surprisingly, it was the driver of the truck.

And that is why you should always wear your seatbelt.

The story I heard later, was that he claimed a plastic bag blew up into his face (the smart money was on texting). 

And why was he going fast enough  to take out a pole? 

It wasn't until after six that the pole was replaced and the road was reopened (not that I had anywhere to go). And the "road closed" signs are still there. 

And So It Begins ...

The septic mound in front of our house is one of the last large patches of lawn.

And we are waging a War on Lawn.

And today, we opened a new front.

Fifty Carex pensylvanica plugs, freshly planted.

An experiment. The idea, the hope, is that it thrives and spreads. A native ground cover, septic safe, and one that does not require mowing. Although it might prefer a bit more shade.

A win, win, win.

Mulched with salt hay. Hopefully enough to prevent weed and grass from invading the plot.

It's a start.