Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year in Utley, Feb 29, 2012

A wonderful morning. Did laundry at the washateria in Webberville and while waiting went to the Little park where there were 200+ goldfinches working the elm blooms. Here I also had my first Barn Swallow of the season and a Ringed Kingfisher female.

Back home I checked the Chickadee box with the dental mirror quickly....3 Eggs! Take that Oberholser and Kincaid. A pair of Carolina Wrens insist on building a nest in one of my bookcases inside, but it just can't be as I close the doors at dark. The red Carolina Wasps are searching for spots to start colonies especially in my gourds and bird boxes....I allow most of them to take over if the birds don't want them because they are such good caterpillar hunters , already the "worm" infestation has begun and the trees are full of Red-winged Blackbirds and Chipping Sparrows gorging themselves on them.

Now here is one of my two highlights of this day....Is not this a most gorgeous animal? Yes it is a Copperhead but it never made an aggressive move toward me and I was so tempted to just pick and hold it,but recall, and always will, Chris M. and his temptations.
Actually this is the second of the day (remember this is still February). A slightly larger one was found earlier but I did not have the camera handy. I find these as I am clearing out dead wood from the drought to burn. I also uncovered the most beautiful Spotted Chorus Frog under a log but within the 3 minutes it took to go for the camera and return , it had vanished.

Sandhill Cranes have been coming over but I guess the geese are gone as I have not heard a single one in two days now, but have heard wigeons. . Picked up a Neotropic Cormorant for the yard "list" today as well. Everything is budding, everything is wonderful. Lots of Cave Swallows....It won't be long before the Chimney Swifts return....I have had them on the coast as early as March 6.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mourning Cloaks

This morning as geese sailed over, and over north bound, and the post oaks are budding out way to early, I have had at least 2 and maybe 3 fresh Mourning Cloak butterflies on the property. I do have bait out but they either have not found it or are ignoring it.
Now then, I live out here in the sticks, hidden from view and am blessed with both indoor and outdoor facilities. I love the outdoor facilities .....Seems at least this specimen prefers my outdoor facilities over the the bait or indoor as well....I remember a tuna experiment Larry Gilbert told me about years ago and it has always stuck in my head....But no tuna here.

This animal is rare around here....I live in one of those small areas in the 48 states where there are not supposed to be any MC.s   The ones I have seen this morning all appear fresh....I should note that the winter has been so mild that many of the Black Willows never lost their leaves.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ironclad Beetle

Out early on a February 21 fungi forage, Utley Texas.
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Strange Topping- Dog Vomit (Fuligo septica)

This morning I was out to feed the birds near some of my compost heaps when I noted
a large white mass on top of one of them. Where it sits this morning there was nothing more than a big fresh fire ant mound which can still be barely seen at the base. This Myxomycetes mass grew over night to the size it is now, and it may still be growing! It has a very fine sponge like texture and is not slimy. The scale in the photo is an 18" vs 12" scale for size comparisons.
Despite the mound being overwhelmed with this mass the ants are still active as is shown when I lightly disturbed the base where soil from the mound shows. The ants moved into the compost heap to escape the saturated soils after recent rains.
How incredible for this to appear in just a few hours and how interesting it would have been to have filmed it as it grew.   Hopefully a good sign that my compost is breaking down nicely.
Thanks to Anita Howlett for her help on the correct ID.

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