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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Little Woodpeckers

This female downy woodpecker, Picoides pubescens, seems to like my new suet feeder. She's about 6 inches long. Click to enlarge.
Before she flies to the feeder, she sits in a nearby tree for a few moments. I assume she is checking the area for dangers.
A male came by soon, too. You can tell the difference by the red patch on the back of his head. I often see a male female pair pecking in the trees together. Handsome couple!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Harvestman

The harvestman in this picture is about five inches long from the tip of one leg across the middle to the tip of another. Good thing it is not a spider, but just a harmless member of the order Opiliones, a group often mistaken for spiders. You might know the harvestman as a daddy long legs or a harvester or a variety of other common names. At the end of this long harvest themed Thanksgiving holiday weekend I remembered having heard that some people think the names harvestman and harvester originated from their abundance in agricultural areas at harvest time. This one seemed to be living up to that legend by posing on a leaf of a blueberry bush in a farmer's field. Click to enlarge.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!


Some New Jersey wild turkeys slipping quietly into the woods.

 Perhaps the World Ends Here by Joy Harjo, 1951


The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat 
to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it 
has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the 
corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to 
be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around 
our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down 
selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the 
table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in 
the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents 
for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering 
and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are 
laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Autumn Leaf Edition


"How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days."
John Burroughs
Click on the photos to enlarge. 








Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thread-waisted Wasp

The season for photographing insects on flowers is coming to a close. Here's one of this year's last  -- the lovely thread-waisted wasp, Ammophila procera, shiny black with silver streaks on the thorax and a wide orange band around the center. Halloweeny color scheme, right? Click to enlarge.
This adult is drinking nectar at flowers but these wasps start life on quite a different diet. After mating, the female digs a burrow in soft ground or sand and then captures a caterpillar or other insect and stings in into paralysis. She places it inside the burrow, lays an egg on it, seals up the burrow, and leaves. A meal of fresh caterpillar will be waiting right there when the larval wasp hatches.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Halloween Edition

Happy Halloween! Gotta love the decorations everywhere. Click to enlarge.

I am seeing lots of animals out there, mostly skeletal, like this bird.
And this bony parrot on the pirate's shoulder.
And lots of mammals, too. I think this is a wolf a-howling.
A rat.
A cat.
A dog.
I even see an occasional horse. The thing about Halloween mammal skeletons is they have ears. Bony ears. Go back and look. Ears make them easy to identify but would not be found on real skeletons. Google a few.
But this spider skeleton is the funniest I've seen because spiders, being invertebrates, don't have any bones inside at all, just rigid exoskeletons. Now that's scary!
And I wish all the humans a fun Halloween!