Category Archives: Fauna

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.

Temporary House Guests

Several weeks ago, I noticed a robin frequenting the eaves over the back patio.

After several days of this, I looked up and saw her new nest. Trying to save us both disappointment, I removed the nest and placed it on top of a pile of dead branches in the yard. 

Not an optimum relocation; I had hoped adequate. Nearby enough I thought she would find the nest in it’s new location, and either reoccupy or relocate.

My heart sank the next day when I noticed a blue egg shattered on the patio. Apparently, I moved the nest the day before she had no choice but to fill it.  Maybe from habit, or absent any other option, she left the egg on the ledge from where I had removed the nest. It must have rolled off the now smooth surface and smashed on the blue stone below.

A week or so later, a black bird, a starling I’m guessing, started to behave just as the robin had, swooping in under the patio porch roof, and then disappearing in the eaves.

Though I knew what she was doing, this time I didn’t do anything about it.

A week or so ago, a chorus of chirps erupted from deep under the tin roof. They’ll leave soon enough. It’s said that once some birds fly from the nest they grow so much they are unable to fit back in.

Once they abandon the nest, unable to return, they must continue on to their future.

After the youngsters make their way, I’ll invite the mother to leave, clean the mess made from their dwelling and contemplate ways to keep this from happening again.

Meanwhile, I listen daily as their voices thicken and strengthen, waiting as their wings do same, until they take flight.

 

 

White Geese

Meeting to allow substance abuse recovery center in Herrick Township
June 4 @ 7:00 pm
Herrick Township supervisors and the public will meet to discuss a change of use application allowing a substance abuse recovery center to operate on the current Stone Bridge Inn and Restaurant property. Monday June 4 7PM Township building

 

Unlike their cousins the snow geese who pass over in very early spring on their way back north and rarely rest in the neighborhood,  this couple floats around a local pond most of the time.

Wikipedia reports:

In Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, the original domesticated geese are derived from the greylag goose Anser anser. In eastern Asia, the original domesticated geese are derived from the swan goose Anser cygnoides; these are commonly known as Chinese geese.

Both have been widely introduced in more recent times, and modern flocks in both areas (and elsewhere, such as Australia and North America) may consist of either species or hybrids between them.

Chinese geese may be readily distinguished from European geese by the large knob at the base of the bill, though hybrids may exhibit every degree of variation between the two species.