Jun 02

Back to Reality

Posted: under Activities, photography, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , ,  June 2nd, 2017

Yesterday morning as I went outside, I saw a very small cicada on the kitchen storm door.   I thought immediately of one seen some years back (turned out to be four years) in the same place, photographed then and identified by Bill Reynolds, an expert on cicadas at BugGuide.net.  First I went back inside and got the camera, then photographed it, then went to BugGuide to compare…and sure enough, it’s the same critter.  Length about 1/2 inch (not counting wings.)

Pacarina puella  Little Mesquite cicada

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Jul 08

Always Something New

Posted: under photography, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , ,  July 8th, 2011

An unfamiliar plant shows up every now and then (more often after rains, and really often after flood events that move seeds from upstream above our property down into the damp areas.)    Over the weekend, my husband reported a plant new to him over on Westbrook near the south fenceline: a Composite, very small flowers and bicolored, like a miniature gaillardia, he said.  Plant up to three feet tall, straggly, with narrow (lanceolate to linear) leaves.  A couple of days later he brought back a drying specimen of the flowers; I tried to revive it in water so I could look it up, but no luck.

I finally made it over there early this morning, and as usual saw more than I came for.    First, while walking through the south end of the creek woods, I heard a bird I didn’t recognize (along with white-eyed vireos, cardinals, Carolina wrens, mockingbirds…)  and then I saw a flash of yellow and black…not a bird, but a large butterfly.   We’ve had more and more tiger swallowtails in the past few years, both in the house yards and down in the creek woods, but I’ve had little luck photographing them.  They’re strong flyers, skittish, and prefer to perch (when they perch) with plenty of greenery between me and them.   Today I got lucky.

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Jan 17

First 2010 Rain, New Species

Posted: under Activities, Land, Plantlife, Water, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , , ,  January 17th, 2010

We’d had some sprinkles, but the first real rain came Thursday & Friday, about two inches, and set the secondary drainage flowing across the near meadow again.  Creek was up and a little turbid, but the flow in the grass was crystal clear.   Today, I finally photographed a common (supposedly) species of butterfly around here, which I’d never been able to catch in the lens.

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Dec 30

New Species! (And Big Bird)

Posted: under photography, Plantlife, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , , ,  December 30th, 2009

During migration and winter we have a lot of birds in the grass–birds that fly up and dive down a little distance away, birds that fly up and perch in bushes, birds that fly up and away and dive down over there. Most of them are sparrows of some kind.    Today one of the “divers” posed long enough for me to note salient characteristics and even get some slightly blurry pictures–good enough for an ID:


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Nov 07

First-of-Season Winter Sparrows

Posted: under Activities, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , ,  November 7th, 2009

Forgot to mention yesterday that though I had heard a White-crowned Sparrow call in the yard a few days ago, I hadn’t spotted one until yesterday evening, up in the dry woods.  I came into the south end of the dry woods trail and startled some White-winged doves, who flapped off with their usual noisy behavior, but one smaller bird just hopped to the top of a cactus and sat there.

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Nov 06

Details from Today’s Walkaround

Posted: under Activities, photography, Plantlife, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , , ,  November 6th, 2009

Some grasses should be planted just for the way they look with sunlight slanting through them in the fall.


This is one.  It’s one of the Muhlys, but I don’t know which.

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Nov 06

Census: New Species

Posted: under Activities, photography, Wildlife.
Tags: , , , , , ,  November 6th, 2009

Our on the land with visitors yesterday, I spotted a new fly (new to me):


That spotted abdomen was very obvious with the naked eye.   It’s a similar pattern to a spotted jumping spider we have (also white spots on black) and until I saw it fly I was thinking  “There’s another P. audax, never saw one on heath aster before.”   The “face” and antennae are the same golden color as the wings.

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Apr 09

New on Website: species lists

Posted: under Plantlife, Update, Wildlife.
Tags: , ,  April 9th, 2009


Species lists are now live on the website.  When you mouse over the Species List, three choices appear: birds, plants, and “zoology” (which in this instance means non-bird wildlife.)

And each of these lists has three pictures of representative species up there on the top green line.

So if you’re been wondering what we have…there it is.

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Feb 13

Great Backyard Bird Count

Posted: under Activities, Wildlife.
Tags: , ,  February 13th, 2009

The annual GBBC sponsored by Cornell University and the Audubon Society is our big bird census activity of the year.    Usually I spent 1-2 hours in each of four sites on the land, but this year (since I’m under orders not to overdo as I recover from pneumonia)  today’s observations at least will all be literally “yard” ones.   So far that’s only eleven species….but my “special bird” in the year, the female Pyrrhuloxia, is still here.   (Usually I see a really interesting bird the day before the count starts, and then not again until afterwards.)

Anyone who’s never participated should consider doing so…it’s fun and it contributes useful information on bird distribution in winter.   There are maps, updated constantly, showing where observations have come from.

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Dec 28

Equipment failure

Posted: under Equipment.
Tags: , ,  December 28th, 2008

If you have land, you have equipment (if it’s no more than a shovel, a clamshell posthole digger, and a fence tool.)    And equipment fails.

I went out today to check the water at both Fox and Owl, put out more feed for the winter-resident birds, and change the memory cards in the two game-cams.  We got those last spring (well, we borrowed a friend’s for a month to try it out) and they’ve been very helpful.   They have a feature that lets you enter a security code so the camera won’t work for anyone else and they have a digital display that has a variety of messages and lets you see that you’re entering the security code correctly.

About two months ago, the display began to “break up”–not all  the pixels of all the letters would show.  The camera still worked, though, and I could still enter the code.   I thought maybe the batteries were running low, so I changed them…but the display still looked spotty.  It’s gotten much worse in the last month (I  change out the memory cards on the last weekend of the month) and today I was unable to get the first camera to accept the code and go back to work.  The second did it, but if it goes the way of the other, it won’t work after the next changeout.

Just in case the local store had old, not strong batteries, I’ll buy new batteries at a store with more turnover, but I’m afraid some internal chip may be degrading for some reason.   It continued to take pictures (I’ve looked at what’s on the memory card–perfectly good video and still pictures, which is why I doubt it’s the batteries.)  These cameras are supposed to be able to handle any outdoor setting and until this happened I was pleased with them and hoped to order a couple more.

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