Sunday, December 25, 2022
Sunday, December 18, 2022
Winter Is Coming!
And now a timely poem. Winter Trees by William Carlos Williams:
"All the complicated details
of the attiring
and the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold."
Sunday, December 11, 2022
|I was walking in a Burlington County park this morning, trying to get some time outside before the rain started, when this decorated bush caught my eye. I went closer to look at the ornaments. Click to enlarge. |
|Surprise! They were all edible bird treats. |
|Like a candy cane shaped waffle garnished with dried meal worms. |
|And this waffle wedge with seeds and a cranberry. |
|I think the seeds and things were stuck to the waffles with peanut butter. You can also make bird treats by melting suet, pouring it into a mold, adding tasty things, and then allowing it to re-solidify. |
|Congratulations to whoever made these. Well done! |
Sunday, December 4, 2022
This bird sighting made me wonder how December managed to sneak up on me again.
As Dr. Suess put it:
How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before it's June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?
Sunday, November 27, 2022
|A few weeks ago, before it got cold, this inch-long beetle crossed my path. It will probably be the last flashy outdoor insect of the year. It's a sensational one -- a blister beetle in the genus Meloe. Click to enlarge. |
It's also called an oil beetle. They are famous for producing a defensive yellow oil from their joints when threatened. The oil contains cantharadin, which causes blistering on human skin.
It's also famous having a first larval stage that is radically different from its subsequent grub style larval stages. It's called a triangulan. It's tiny, kind of looks like a silverfish, and has three claws on each of its legs from which it gets the name. It's built to travel to a food source. It's only job is to hitchhike on a bee.
Each species of Meloe beetle preys on a specific kind of ground-dwelling solitary bee. The kind of bee that makes a little nest in the ground, provisions it with pollen, and leaves eggs there to eat and grow. If the blister beetles have their way, those well planned bee babies either end up sharing their food supply or being eaten.
Meloe triangulans can work together to do something remarkable to get to those bees. They aggregate on a plant and produce chemicals that mimic female bee pheremones. A unwitting amorous male bee attracted to the scent ends up at a ball of tiny insects that latch onto him. When he finds a real female bee to mate with some of the triagulans are transferred to her and get taken back to her nest where they drop off and start pillaging.
What an amazing product of insect evolution crossed my path that day!
|If you see one of these -- big, dark, long body, short wing covers -- don't touch!|
Sunday, November 20, 2022
|One of our neighborhood turkeys. Click to enlarge. |
by Clyde Watson
November comes and November goes.
With the last red berries and the first white snows.
With night coming early and dawn coming late.
And ice in the bucket and frost on the gate.
The fires burn and the kettles sing.
The earth sinks to rest until next spring.
|Wishing you all another year filled with things to be thankful for!|
Sunday, November 13, 2022
|It's a hermit thrush! Note the spotted breast and throat and the contrasting reddish tail. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology you are more likely to see a hermit thrush in the woods than in a suburban backyard. Except during migration, when one might stop by to forage. |
|Right again, ornithologists. |
Sunday, November 6, 2022
Good News Bee, er... Fly
|A couple of weeks ago I was in these mountains around Centralia, PA. I was hunting for plant fossils on a big patch of exposed shale; I'll be showing off the fossils I found in an upcoming blog soon. Among many pleasant sights of the day, this... |
Sunday, October 30, 2022
Daylight Savings Time -- Next Weekend
|Who knew? |
Sunday, October 23, 2022
Tree and Sky
|It's October and the leaves are turning colors. Today is chilly and drizzling here and I am indoors sitting beside a fire. It is the perfect time for a poem! Click the photos to enlarge. |
Tree and Sky
by William Carlos Williams
the bare brush of
of tree stands alone
upon its battered hummock---
among the shufflings
of the distant
opens the unmoving
Sunday, October 16, 2022
|The leaves in the mountains around Frackville, Pa are perfectly lovely right now. I had a short trip there this week. The autumn foliage was stunning. Click to enlarge.|
|It reminded me of a couple of things that I think I heard first in elementary school. Like... |
What happens when winter is coming? ... Autumn leaves!
Why is it so easy to trick an autumn leaf? ... They'll fall for anything!
|And... I mainly use the word autumn instead of fall. I hope it does not lead to my downautumn. LoL! |
Sunday, October 9, 2022
|Autumn colors are getting better every day here in South Jersey. |
|Like this. Click to enlarge. |
|And this. |
|And -- from my favorite poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, a stanza from the poem "Autumn:"|
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
Sunday, October 2, 2022
|I had heard that their scent was delicious so I sniffed a few recently and I can attest that they have a lovely, sweet, orangey aroma. |
|But why do they bloom at night? And why produce a scent anyway? |
|Because their pollinators are mainly moths who are attracted by scents and are active at night. It all seems perfectly logical now, right? |
Sunday, September 25, 2022
Pine Barrens Gentian Time
|In September I make a special trip to the New Jersey Pine Barrens to look for these beautiful rare blue pine barrens gentians, Gentiana autumnalis. Click to enlarge. |
|These lovely autumn flowers are natives of North American coastal pine barrens from South Carolina to New Jersey. See the sun shine through the cup! |
|Some people think this is New Jersey's most beautiful native wildflower. |
|I love the trails of dots on the petals like fairy dust. |
|Pine barrens gentians bloom from September through early November.|
|Hunting for gentians in the pine barrens is a great way to spend an autumn afternoon! |
Sunday, September 18, 2022
Autumn Equinox This Week
|Let us hope for the kind of autumn that the poet John Keats described as "a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness." |
Sunday, September 11, 2022
Artistic Wasp Nests
|See the little pot-shaped thing attached to the webbing of my garden chair? It was made by a mason wasp. Also called mud pot wasps and potter wasps, this group builds these little pots from soil and chewed plant material. Nice result, right? |
Sunday, September 4, 2022
Happy Labor Day Weekend