Sunday, January 23, 2022

Late January

I took a walk early this morning. Here's my report from outside -- it's cold (about 25F when I went out) but not windy, so tolerable for a well-bundled person. There's a lot of ice on the Delaware River. That's the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. Click to enlarge.


A pair of swans navigated the unfrozen channels.

Geese flew overhead.

It was surprisingly noisy by the river. The ice was making a racket, cracking and popping, pushed around by the river's flow and starting to melt in the rising January sunshine. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022



Despite that it was just 10 stunningly cold degrees around here this morning, I went out looking for snowdrops -- and I found some! This little droopy patch was all, but I have no doubt that more of the scrappy little rhings will follow. Click to enlarge.

Not just any flower can pop up in mid-January. Snowdrops have special cold-weather adaptations. They produce proteins that act like biological antifreeze to keep their sap from freezing. They have strong leaf tips that let them push up through frozen soil and snow. And they usually reproduce asexually from bulbs dividing underground.                   No bees, no problem.

For me, snowdrops are an incentive for taking chilly walks in January. It's possible to come across a big patch of them, like in the picture above that I took a few years ago in Central Park in New York City. It might be just me but they always make me feel that although it is winter, the seasons are playing out according to plan and spring is not so far away.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

More Daylight

I invite you to think back to the winter solstice on December 21, 2021, about two and a half weeks ago. On that day the sun set at 4:42 (in Philadelphia). Click to enlarge.

Now fast forward to today, January 9, 2022. The sun will set at 4:57. That's 15 more minutes of daylight! We are making steady progress through the winter.

Spring is waiting in the wings.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Creature Of The Year Awards, 2021!


Competition was stiff for the 2021 Urban Wildlife Guide Creature Of The Year Award. Congratulations to the winner, the Golden Northern Bumblebee! This handsome creature has appeared in the blog many times, and was featured in "My Favorite Bee" this year. Click on this sentence to revisit that blog post and see more photos of the Goden Northern Bumblebee. Take a bow you lovely fuzzy bee!

In the event that the bumblebee is unable to fulfill its duties as Creature Of The Year, the first runner-up, the amazing hummingbird clearwing moth will step in. Congratulations you stunning, mothy, master-of-disguise! Click the photos to enlarge them.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Merry Christmas

"I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year." Charles Dickens.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Empty Chrysalis


I found this empty butterfly chrysalis on a bush in my yard this week. Click to enlarge.

It has ridges where the butterfly's abdominal segments developed. The little black stem on top is called a cremaster and attaches the chrysalis to a little pad of silk that the caterpillar spins and from which the whole thing hangs. It's impressively strong; it's been through a lot of wind and rain lately and it's still stuck tight.

There were a lot of monarchs on the orange milkweed plants in the yard this year. The chrysalis was only a few feet from where I took this caterpillar's picture. Could be his!

It makes me wonder if the butterfly made it safely south, if it's hanging upside down right now, warm among a thousand others, drowsing is an orange cloud and waiting for spring.

The moral of the story: Plant Milkweed.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Cute Mammal Alert

A raccoon peering down from the branches. Click to enlarge.

This squirrel looks ready to interact -- especially if peanuts are involved -- or to carry on if not. Today I am a just looking at some photos of my cute backyard mammals.

The rabbits are always alert and ready to run if I get too close. Actually all the animals are looking at me. I bet a lot more than the ones I see are watching me.

Here's a nice opossum. Not one that lives in my yard. You don't usually see them in bright daylight like this. This one is an orphan that works as a wildlife ambassador at a nearby refuge -- but the ones around here look exactly like it.  Note that she is also checking me out.

And this -- oh, wait. Nevermind. Ignore this one. The rest are frequent visitors to my suburban back yard.