Category Archives: Fauna

Breakfast Date

An early appointment the day of the storm had me awake closer to daybreak than usual.

As I walked across the living room, I noticed that the leaves of the houseplant, that “found it’s window” several years ago were trembling.

Even though they calmed to stillness  when I stopped walking, I kept looking at the leaves.

I perceived that I saw them start to move again, growing, turning, yearning for pale dawn light.

Movement in the yard drew my eyes through the window, beyond the plant.

There, a sentinel doe draws attention from her young buck as they breakfast. His rack raw and white, velvet recently scraped, now ready for rut, ready for winter.

First Snow Lichen

First snow this week settled on lawn and between lichen covered blue stone. Not much off rain with some sleet mixed in, the indifferent coating comprised of meager barely ripe flakes as is common this time of season.

Fat wet snowflakes sometimes describe the same pattern as lichen when they land on stone. 

Lichens it turns out, are two animals in one.

Wikipedia reports:
A lichen is a composite organism that arises from algae or cyanobacteria living among filaments of multiple fungi in a mutualistic relationship. The combined lichen has properties different from those of its component organisms…

October Morning Geese

While enjoying the temperature and clarity of a fine October morning, the distinctive honking of geese punctuated an otherwise calm mist rising from the valley.

After what seemed like minutes, the gaggle revealed itself. Flying at a considerable altitude, these birds were not commuting across the neighborhood; they were on their way with intent.

From the back of the yard, a doe snorts,  flashes buff from the tall grass, comes to attention, ears poised, eyes intent, gauging me as friend or threat.

The shadow crossing the sun and yard pulls my eyes up as a tree top turkey vulture pulses wings toward unobstructed sky.

Colors seep slowly stronger, gilding leaves and hills, on this fine October morning.

 

 

 

Woodchuck with Apple

For this being and it’s ilk, frequenting my backyard used to be a risky and dangerous behaviour – one with potentially fatal consequences.

A couple of decades ago, dog became frenzied, straining, nearly choking herself on her run every time a woodchuck came out of it’s hole under the outhouse. This went on for many days.

After several mornings of hunt and hide, I and my trusty .22 Browning lever action dispatched one of this critter’s ancestors on the very spot he now enjoys an apple.

Every once in a while over the past few weeks, for the first time in years, I’ve been enjoying target practice with that .22.

I first looked through the open sites of that rifle around a half century ago. As my time with it accumulated, I became able to shoot far away paper targets, woodchucks and rabbits at will. Killed them all.

My backyard’s last dog has been gone for over a year. The woodchuck doesn’t really bother me that much. The way he eats apples, kind of reminds me of how a racoon handles food.

This summer, I’ve been reliably killing already chipped coffee cups and paper plates from well over one hundred feet; shooting as well as I can remember.

When hands and eyes were younger, I’d align the sites on the target, take a breath, hold still and pull the trigger.

Now, I align the sites on the target, try not to move, wait until the sites drift across the target and shoot.

Though they have many times before, lately, those sites never drift across woodchucks, racoons, or rabbits.

American Dagger Moth Caterpillar

This fellow made his way across the bluestone recently. I gave him a pretty wide berth – close enough to get a photograph, far enough that his spikey hairs didn’t touch me as they are somewhat poisonous and will cause irritation.

Wikipedia reports:
Acronicta americana, the American dagger moth, is a moth of the family Noctuidae. It was originally described by Thaddeus William Harris in 1841 and is native to North America.

Then, I noticed that nature had copied the pattern of his yellow starlike fur in green on the forest floor.

Cicada

This creature stopped by the patio for a few hours this morning, and was quite cooperative in having it’s picture taken.

This photo I think best showed off the detail of it’s beautiful striped and furred face.

Cicada’s are the source of the high pitched sound that seems almost like a buzz saw. 

Wikipedia reports:

The genus Neotibicen are large-bodied insects of the family Cicadidae that appear in summer or early fall in eastern North America. Common names include cicada, harvestfly, jar fly, and the misnomer locust…

Neotibicen species are the most common cicada in the Eastern United States. Unlike periodical cicadas, whose swarms occur at 13- or 17-year intervals, Neotibicen species can be seen every year, hence their nickname “annual cicadas”…

Neotibicen cicadas are 1–2 inches (25–51 mm) long, with characteristic green, brown, and black markings on the top of the thorax, and tented, membranous wings extending past the abdomen…

Bear

On the way to breakfast last week, this fellow was out for an amble through the state game lands.

I rolled down my window, and hollered “Hey, hey you!”. 

He made it clear that he had heard me by taking a couple of faster steps in the direction he was headed.

He also made it clear that he had absolutely no interest in conversing with me, as he refused to even look in my direction.

As another car approached, I put my arm out the window, directing the other drivers attention to the bear.

“See the labrador over there?” I asked, as at this distance, the bear could have easily been mistaken for a dog at first glance.

“Why that’s a bear!!” the woman exclaimed as we all laughed.

“I’ve been coming here for 68 years, and this is the first time I’ve seen a bear!” It was nice to share the experience with her.

Later breakfasting at Arlo’s a couple and their two young children sat next to us. We told our story, and the young boy told his story of having seen two dogs chase a bear just the day before!

 

Toad

The recent heat wave drove us to sleep on the patio.

One morning upon awakening, I noticed Mr. Toad nestled not far from the futon.

Figuring he’d eat some bugs, I left him be. By the next morning, he was gone, probably on to the next pond in search of companionship.