04 May 2016

Geese

Some young geese have hatched on Miner's pond and the proud parents are showing them off.



The young geese are getting some lessons on finding food.

03 May 2016

Western Conifer Seed Bug

I was checking on my tomato plants and had this large bug land on a tray of plants. This insect is the Western Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis) and as the name implies, it was looking for Pine trees, not tomato plants. Adults may wander indoors late in the season looking for shelter to spend the winter. In spring the bugs move to conifers and feed on the developing seeds and early flowers.



The Western Conifer Seed Bug is unable to bite/sting/infect people or pets, damage property, or even reproduce indoors. It does give off a pungent odor as defense if molested.



Western Conifer Seed Bugs originated on the West Coast of the U.S., but have migrated east all the way to Atlantic states and provinces. They typically prefer warm climates and attempt to survive the cold northern winters by entering warm homes and buildings when the seasons change.

29 April 2016

Deer ticks

Spring is here and we are spending more time outdoors enjoying the warm weather, but this warm weather also brings out the Deer Ticks (Ixodes scapularis). Mary found this tick after doing some yard work.



Deer ticks have a two-year life cycle, during which time it passes through three stages: larva, nymph, and adult. The tick must take a blood meal at each stage before maturing to the next. Deer tick females latch onto a host and drink its blood for four to five days. After the tick has consumed its blood meal, it drops off and overwinters in the leaf litter of the forest floor. The following spring, the female lays up to a few thousand eggs in clusters.

Ticks are very hardy creatures. Expect them to be active even after a moderate to severe frost, as daytime temperatures can warm them enough to keep them actively searching for a host. In the spring, they can be one of the first invertebrates to become active.

25 April 2016

Busy Bee

Wildflowers are starting to bloom and honey bees are busy collecting nectar from any flowers they can find. It was a cool and windy day, and the honey bees were working on the dandelions behind our barn.



The little yellow "dots" on the honey bees are pollen grains from the dandelions. Hay fever season has started.

23 April 2016

Wildflower - Spring Beauty

I was walking around our West Hill property and found large patches of the wildflower Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica). This perennial wildflower is about 3-6" tall and is one of the earliest-blooming wildflowers.



This low-growing plant has tiny underground tubers that can be prepared and eaten just like potatoes. Another common name for the Spring Beauty is the "Fairy Spud." The tiny, sweet tubers are high in potassium and vitamin A and are a good source of calcium and vitamin C. They can be eaten raw, boiled, fried, roasted, or mashed.

22 April 2016

Looking for Shade

The warm spring weather has returned to the neighborhood, but most of the trees haven't developed leaves to create a shady foliage canopy. Some our the local neighborhood deer haven't completely shed their winter fur coats and found a cool, shady spot next to our cabin.



20 April 2016

Young Buck

The warm spring weather is here and this young neighborhood buck is shedding his winter coat and starting to grow his first set of antlers.

14 April 2016

Bald Eagle

For the second time this spring I found a Bald Eagle near the bridge over Wysox Creek. Bald eagles are opportunistic feeders and subsist mainly on fish, which it swoops down and snatches from the water with its talons. I spotted this bald eagle in a tree next to Wysox Creek and it may have been waiting for the trout stocking of the creek which was scheduled for today.

12 April 2016

Trapping a Pipeline Pig

The pipeline operations crew was on our property today to trap a "pipeline pig". Part of the routine maintenance of a natural gas pipeline is to remove water, scale and rust from the pipeline using a device called a "pig". The "pipeline pig" is inserted into the pipeline at a valve assembly known as a "pig launcher" and pushed through the pipeline by the pressure of the natural gas until it is caught in the "pig trap" at the other end of the pipeline. With the "pig" in the "trap", valves are positioned to isolate the "pig" in the "trap" section and valves are opened to release the excess pressure in the "trap".



Once the excess pressure has been removed from the "trap" section the door can be opened and the "pig", water and pipeline scale can be removed.



Due to cold weather, the water in the "trap" had turned to ice.

05 April 2016

Wildflower - Teasel

Most wildflowers wilt and fade away shortly after they bloom, but Common Teasel doesn't go away easily. After its flowers disappear the egg-shaped seed head can still be found a year later.



A close-up view shows the thorny spikes that cover the seed head.

04 April 2016

Snow!!!

SNOW... it was a couple of days late for an "April Fools" joke. We went all winter without any measurable snow fall and now we get 3-4 inches of snow after several days of temperatures in the 50s and 60s (F).



This storm started as a warm rain that changed to snow with high winds overnight. About 2:30AM I was awoken by the sound of the howling wind and the crash of a nearby tree. I then discovered 4 inches for snow on the ground and our electrical power was off. At daybreak I could hear the sound of a chain saw and found the power company working to restore our electric service. Our power was restored about 8:30AM and by the afternoon the snow had melted from the roads and green grass was visible in the lawns.

02 April 2016

Enjoying a Spring Day

The local deer have had it easy this winter without any snow cover and I found this deer enjoying the warm spring weather.

28 March 2016

Spring has Sprung

Last week the vernal equinox marked the official start of astronomical spring and some of the animals in the neighborhood have "spring fever". The gobblers are starting to strut for the hen turkeys as they gear up for the mating season.



This gobbler is hanging close to a flock of hens.

27 March 2016

Babysitting Myra

It was our pleasure to babysit our granddaughter, Myra, for the past week while her mother, Nikki, was attending a military conference in Washington, DC. Myra, is now 7 months old and has started crawling (and exploring).



Myra is now eating solid food and loves it.



She likes to finish her meals with a dill pickle.



After a day of exploring and eating, its story time.



Myra is back with her mother and our house is strangely quiet now.

18 March 2016

Wildflower - Coltsfoot

The early spring wildflowers are starting to appear and today I spotted some bright yellow flowers along Joyce Road. At first I thought it was the ever abundant dandelions but I soon realized it was Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara).



Although coltsfoot flowers resemble dandelion blossoms, the two plants are easily distinguished by their stems. Coltsfoot has red scales along its flower stems, while dandelion flower stems are completely smooth. Coltsfoot prefers cool, damp clay soil but can also grow in full sun. It grows along stream banks and dirt roads