Sunday, July 28, 2019

Blueberry Season

The heat and sunshine have been intense these past few weeks but that's not all bad. Some of it went into ripening New Jersey's blueberry crop. They are ready!
I went blueberry picking this week on a farm in Hammonton, New Jersey; that's the blueberry capital of the world. Click the photos to enlarge.
I came back with 12 pints of blueberries for which I paid $1.66 each.
I got a fine day out, a good deal, exercise, and...
a picnic beside Hammonton Creek, pictured here. It was lovely.
When I got home, I made blueberry jam. I'm going to try to save some until January. It is summer in a jar. 
The hot sunny days are also good for butterfly spotting. Here are some that I saw on berry picking day. A cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae.
A spicebush swallowtail, Papilio troilus.
A tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus.
And a buckeye, Junonia coenia.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Baby Hummingbird

Remember this ruby-throated hummingbird nest from two weeks ago? Click to enlarge.
I walked by it today and discovered this young hummingbird sitting in the same pose. It makes its mom seem large be comparison, doesn't it? The little tail barely clears the edge of the nest. The mother did not come to the nest while I was there, perhaps not wanting to draw attention to the baby. I didn't stay long -- partly to avoid disturbing them and partly because the temperature was beginning to approach 100F.
Here's a closer look at the baby. It needs to grow a few more feathers on its face and its crown feathers are a little crazy. Has its mom's beak, though, don't you think? I'll keep an eye on it as it matures and will try to get a picture of them together.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Threadleaf Sundew Has a Flower

This is a picture of a few leaves of the  threadleaf sundew plant, Drosera filiformis, that grows in New Jersey pine barrens bogs. It's a carnivorous plant that supplements its diet by capturing insects in sticky hairs on its slender upright leaves. The insects are slowly dissolved and the plant acquires nutrients from them. I am always delighted to find these pretty sparkly red plants at my feet in the mud at a bog's edge.
And it gets better! The threadleaf sundews are flowering right now. Here's a picture I took this week of a  single dainty pink flower. The flower stalk rises from the base of the plant and lacks sticky droplets. Each of the flower buds on the stalk opens for a single day.   Click to enlarge. Lovely, isn't it?

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Hummingbird Nest!

Meet my tiny neighbor, a female ruby-throated hummingbird, Archilochus colubris. She's about 3.5 inches long with a wingspan of just over 4 inches, and weighs 1 or 2 tenths of an ounce. The nest is about 2 inches across and an inch deep. It's made from plant matter like dandelion and thistle down held together with spider silk and covered with bits of lichen and moss. There are probably 1-3 tiny white eggs inside. I'll keep going back until I see them hatch and I will report.
Female ruby-throated hummingbirds do all the work of nest-building, incubation, and chick-rearing. The ruby-throated is the only hummingbird that breeds in eastern North America. Click on the photos to enlarge.
These birds are accustomed to human activity and have been known to build nests on man-made things like loops of wire or electrical cords. This little bird sat still at her post while an entire 4th of July parade marched past within 20 feet, brass bands and all.