Sunday, October 25, 2020



It's Halloween week!

An excellent time for long leaf-kicking walks.

Wildlife raids on decorations. Click to enlarge.

Suburban turkey sightings.

And other fun stuff.

Celebrate safely, my friends!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

2020 Amphibian and Reptile Review


I don't have the well developed sensitivity for spotting reptiles and amphibians that I have for birds, so I don't see nearly as many. Their ability to evade detection by sitting still and the use of outright camouflage probably also helps them avoid me. Exhibit one is the above photo of a deftly concealed leopard frog. Click to enlarge.

Then there are Fowler's toads that are abundant in New Jersey and that I suspect see me much more often than I see them. They blend in and sit still. Do you see one in this photo?

See it now?

Well played, hidden toad!

Adding to my roundup of amphibians and reptiles I've seen this year that haven't yet made it into a blog, I give you the red eared slider turtle. I often see them basking in the sun like those above. Basking is good for them: it helps them regulate their body temperature; make vitamin D; and dry their shells, which wards off problems with fungi, algae, and parasites.

Here's a painted turtle that I met on a sandy path in the pine barrens. I've been known to pull off a road when I see one of these trying to cross, and go back to pick it up and carry it safely to the other side.

Lastly, this week I was working in the yard on a sunny day and made a pile a leaves. When I picked up the pile later this little garter snake had crawled underneath. What a perfect spot for a snake: concealed, damp, and warmed by the sun.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Autumn Leaves

"How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days." ------- John Burroughs

Autumn is awesome. Click to enlarge.

What the heck -- one more. :-)

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Pine Barrens Gentian

This week I made my yearly September trip to the New Jersey pine barrens to look for rare and beautiful pine barrens gentians. Found them.

The buds remind me of Tiffany vases.

Click to enlarge.

There's a caterpillar on this one. I think it's a yellow-striped armyworm. It was not eating and seemed to be trying to get down. Here's hoping it dislikes gentians and goes off and finds itself a tasty invasive plant.

Pine barrens gentians bloom from September through mid-October in New Jersey, depending on local conditions. One more reason to take a long walk in the pinelands.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Autumnal Equinox on Tuesday

Meteorologists consider September first the beginning of autumn. Astronomically, autumn begins at the autumnal equinox; that's will happen this coming Tuesday. Either way you look at it, it's autumn. Let's hope for a season like the poet John Keats called "a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" with all the peace and harmony that image evokes. Click to enlarge the photo.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Praying Mantis


My pot of begonias is looking good. Click to enlarge.

Wait. What's that?

A trap! There's a mantis lurking in there!

This Chinese mantis picked a lovely spot to sit and wait for unsuspecting begonia-visiting inset prey.

I didn’t notice the mantis until AFTER I watered the flowers. Oops. Sorry. See the water drops on its face and back? Does it look mad?