01 August 2015

Blueberries

We have a bumper crop of blueberries this year and the race is on between us and the birds as to who can pick the most.

Since the berries don't all ripen at the same time we need to check the bushes every couple of days.



With the temperature in the 90's and high humidly this week, the picking has been uncomfortable. Today's haul was three coffee cans and there are still more berries to ripen.



Ahh ... Blueberry pie, blueberry pancakes, blueberry cobbler, blueberry crumb cake, blueberry muffins, blueberry crisp, blueberry smoothie, blueberries with milk, blueberry scones, blueberry coffee cake, blueberry buckle, blueberry turnovers, blueberry bread, blueberry dumplings, blueberry tarts, blueberry shortcake ...

31 July 2015

Rabbits

The hunting season for Cottontail Rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus) starts on October 24th and I'm sure the neighborhood rabbits know they're safe for now.

I was driving to a field behind our barn and one of my local bunnies was playing a game of "chicken" with my truck (the rabbit would lose). During hunting season I'd never get this close to the rabbit, but I was able to get within 10 feet before stopping the truck.



When I did stop, the rabbit decided to get comfortable and wait for my next move. My next move was to get out of the truck and look, since I was too close to see the rabbit in front of the truck. The rabbit conceded its loss in the game of "chicken" and hopped into the tall grass, I continued my drive to the field.



On my return trip from the field the rabbit had returned to claim its right to set in the road, I proceeded to explain that a truck will always win a game of "chicken" with a rabbit. The rabbit conceded round #2.



I then proceeded to drive to our cabin and found another bunny waiting for me. No games this time, the bunny took a safer position off the road.

My question is; Where will these rabbits be on October 24th?


30 July 2015

Groundhogs

Whether you call them groundhogs (Marmota monax), woodchucks, or whistlepigs, these large rodents are known for their burrowing habits and destructive behavior. Groundhogs are the largest species in the squirrel family.

During the summer and fall groundhogs eat approximately 1/3 of their weight in vegetation each day to accumulate fat reserves, which they use to survive through their winter hibernation period.

Here are a couple of the large rodents that live on our properties and are on my "watch list" for behavioral adjustment to terminate their destructive behavior.



Groundhogs two main activities are burrowing and eating, which makes them a serious nuisance animal around farms and gardens. They will eat many commonly grown garden vegetables, and their burrows can damage fields and farm equipment.

Groundhogs are known as an "edge" species, that prefer areas where forest or woodland meets an open field or meadow.

Other than looking for food, a groundhog spends most of its time in the security of its burrow, but this one enjoys an outdoor nap near the entrance to its burrow.



29 July 2015

Fawns

The fawns continue to grow and are becoming more adventurous as they explore the neighborhood and socialize with other deer.



The fawns are becoming a regular sight along Joyce Road as they travel around the neighborhood memorizing food sources and hiding places.



These two fawns found the grass along the road tasty.





And it's always a good idea to check in with mom after a day of exploring.

28 July 2015

Japanese Beetles

The annual invasion of Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica) hasn't been too destructive for the past few years, but they have scheduled a family reunion at our garden this year.

They tend to be picky eaters with their crop selection and prefer raspberries, eggplant and as seen in this photo, rhubarb.



A photo of one of our rhubarb plants. All that is left of some of leaves is the main stem and some veins.

27 July 2015

Storm Damage

Yesterday afternoon a violent storm struck the neighborhood and dropped a large white pine tree on Walt & Geri Romanik's house. Along with the strong winds the storm dumped 1.4 inches of rain, with 0.75 inches falling in just 25 minutes.

Lynn Rockefeller working to remove the tree from the roof.





The base of the downed tree.







Damage to the house.

Turkeys

I was checking one of my wildlife food plots and caught up with a flock of turkeys looking for lunch.



The turkey poults (chicks) are getting bigger and the individual family groups are merging together to form a larger social group. There were at least four hens and too many poults to count. Security in numbers.

26 July 2015

Making Hay

It has been a tough haymaking season. The lack of spring rainfall and above average temperatures in May slowed hay growth and then the continuous rain since the first of June has prevented farmers from getting on the fields to make hay.

We finally got some contiguous dry days that allowed some fields to dry out enough to work on this year's hay crop. A photo of hay being made on one of our fields.

24 July 2015

Honeysuckle

To most people, when they think of honeysuckle, they think of a bush with sweet smelling flowers in the spring. To many landowners the honeysuckle bush is an invasive plant that can take over hedgerows and fields.

The sweet smelling flowers of spring are now ripening into bright red berries. Birds find the honeysuckle berries a tasty treat and birds are the main source for spreading the honeysuckle seeds.




The honeysuckle bushes look very pretty this time of year, with the clusters of red berries against the deep green foliage.

While bird may be able to eat the berries, humans eating a few honeysuckle berries will likely result in a bit of upset stomach. If large quantities of potentially poisonous berries are ingested, a person may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and rapid heartbeat.



The thick, dense foliage of the honeysuckle bushes can soon take over and crowd out other native plants. I have a hedgerow where the honeysuckle bushes have grown 30 feet into a field and stand up to 15 feet tall. The honeysuckle bushes are so thick that other plants can't grow in this area. I plan to remove these bushes by pulling them out and try to regain more of the field.

22 July 2015

Snapping Turtles

The turtles are on the move in the neighborhood. My prior posting was on a Wood turtle I found in our lawn and today we found a Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) crossing the road.

While the Wood turtle is small, passive and makes a nice pet, the Snapping turtle has none of these characteristics. Snapping turtle are not an ideal pet.



Snapping turtles have fierce dispositions when encountered out of water. Unlike other turtles, they are too large to hide in their shells when confronted. Snapping is their defense mechanism. The turtle will try to scare off threats by hissing before it bites.

Its neck is very flexible, and a Snapping turtle can bite its handler even if picked up by the sides of its shell. The claws are sharp and dangerous.

21 July 2015

Wood Turtle

I've posted several photos of Eastern Painted turtles and Snapping turtles, the two most abundant turtles in this area, but I had a third specie visit me at our barn.

I found this Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) in the lawn at our barn. Wood turtles use both aquatic and terrestrial habitats at different times of the year and can be found in open meadows, bogs, hay fields and wooded areas, but usually within 1,000 feet of a stream or pond. Wood turtles are omnivorous and opportunistic. They are not picky eaters and will readily consume slugs, worms, tadpoles, insects, algae, wild fruits, leaves, grass and moss.



Wood turtles are listed on the Pennsylvania Herp Identification web site as "Species of special concern" due to declining populations.


20 July 2015

Butterfly - Common Wood-Nymph

I was "brush hogging" one of our fields and I noticed several dark gray butterflies clustered on a flowering plant. As I mowed closer and closer to the plant, the butterflies continued to stay on the flowers.

A photo of at least 8 Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala ariane) butterflies on Narrow-leaved Mountain-mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium).

19 July 2015

Chanterelle Mushrooms

We've had a lot of cool/wet weather this summer and mushrooms are popping up all over.



I recently noticed an area covered with yellow/orange mushrooms and decided to check them out.



After a little research on the web and checking with my mushroom experts in Iowa, the mushrooms were identified as chanterelles. Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) are a highly prized wild mushroom that can be found throughout North America.

Chanterelles are mycorrhizal meaning they associate with trees and I've found these in mossy areas under White Pine trees.



Chanterelles we collected within walking distance of our house.

17 July 2015

Blue Heron (Still Here)

The Blue Heron is still at our cabin property, but he has increased his scope. I found him a couple hundred yards from the pond in the driveway to the cabin today. Maybe he was enjoying the view from the top of the hill.

13 July 2015

Blue Heron

I see Blue Herons frequently on our cabin pond, but like a thief at a crime scene, they make a quick exit with their stolen loot. In most cases the stolen loot is frogs or fish from our pond.

For the past couple of days I've had a juvenile blue heron that won't leave the pond.



When I first saw the heron eyeing my frogs, I tried to scare him away ...



But the heron would just fly to the other side of the pond ...



And continue looking for its next meal.