15 December 2014

Red Squirrel

On a recent walk through our woods after the latest snow storm I found this red squirrel surveying his neighborhood.This little guy seemed to be stunned and confused by the snow, and not the typical hyperactive squirrel.

13 December 2014

Searching for Food

The recent storm has left the ground covered with snow and the neighborhood wildlife has to spend more time and effort searching for food. Deer have to dig through the snow cover to reach the tasty grass.



This pair of deer are sniffing out their next meal.






10 December 2014

Raccoon Visit

I thought a very large grey cat was on our front porch, but I soon realized it was a raccoon.



As I watched, the raccoon crawled onto the support under the bench and started to take a nap. Upon closer investigation the raccoon was looking for a place to sleep off a bad encounter it had with a porcupine.

08 December 2014

Bittersweet

The bright outdoor colors of Spring and Summer have faded into dull greys and browns, but the bittersweet vine stands out like a hunter's blaze orange vest.



While the bright orange fruit of this vine may add color to a drab environment, it comes with some undesirable side effects. The oriental bittersweet vine (Celastrus orbiculatus) is an invasive, non-native plant which is crowding out the native American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens). Once established, the oriental bittersweet vine engulfs other vegetation, slowly killing it. Oriental bittersweet vines wrap so tightly around their victims that the trees are strangled and the vines grow so dense as to block sunlight from other plants.

02 December 2014

Bobcat

It's the first week of the PA deer season. I haven't bagged my deer yet, but I was able to get a couple of quick photos of a bobcat.



Not sure what the bobcat has in it's mouth.

28 November 2014

Snow

The weather for the past couple of weeks has been a repeating freeze/thaw cycle. A week ago, Miner's Pond was froze solid, then a couple of days in the 60's and now the first major snow of the season.



We've had a couple of "dustings" of snow this fall, but this was a very wet, sticky snow. A view of our deck with 10+ inches of snow.



How sticky was the snow? A picture of the snow clinging to our mail box.

24 November 2014

Hard Water

The temperature was 12F here on Saturday morning and after a couple of days of bitter cold weather Miner's Pond was froze solid. Some warmer weather and a light rain came the next day and left a coating of water on top of the ice. This flock of geese may have thought they were landing on open water, but found "hard water" instead. After a short stay on the pond the flock went in search of another water source.

16 November 2014

Ice on the pond

This fall has been warmer than normal until this weekend. The cold weather from the north has moved into the neighborhood and ice is starting to form on Miner's Pond. A flock Canada geese was checking out the first ice of the season and maybe thinking of moving south for warmer weather.

15 November 2014

Knock! Knock! Who's there?

The day was cold and overcast, but otherwise clam and a good day for a walk in our woods. It was a very quiet day and I started to hear what sounded like someone hammering in the woods. As I approached the source of the hammering I soon discovered a Piliated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) looking for a meal. It was easy to spot the brightly colored woodpecker against the dull grey and brown background of trees.



Some of this woodpecker's handy-work as it looked for bugs and grubs in dead trees

13 November 2014

'Tis The Season... Already???

You wouldn't know it from this week's November weather, in the 60's, but a local "big box" home improvement store had Christmas decorations out before Halloween and other stores are starting to run their holiday specials. As if those hints weren't enough, the holly bush next to our house is showing-off it's holiday colors of bright red and green.



Our holly bush is loaded with bright red berries this year and you can't miss it as you walk by.

10 November 2014

The "Rut"

It's the white-tailed deer's breeding season, known as the "rut", and the buck's have one thing their mind, find as many does as he can. White-tailed bucks are more active, less cautious than usual and more visible during the daytime



It's a wildlife dating game and the does are out showing off for the bucks.

05 November 2014

Rub-a-Dub-Dub

The cooler fall weather has triggered some local deer's mating urge and the bucks mark their territory with "Buck Rubs". "Buck Rubs" are created by scraping or gouging on a tree or sapling with the buck's forehead or preorbital gland. Not only is this a visible sign of the buck's territory, but also carries the buck's scent to act as a calling card that identifies the buck that made the rub.

The size of the rub usually varies with the size of the deer. While most buck rubs won't kill larger trees, they will slow the tree's growth and may disfigure some trees.
 

03 November 2014

Hornet's Nest

Several weeks ago I posted an update on Bald-faced Hornets (Dolichovespula maculata) and described how they are known for their large "paper" nests and their defensive behavior to protect the nest. I found a hornet's nest in one of our overgrown fields and decided to take a closer look.



As I started to remove goldenrod and small brush in front of the hornet's nest, several hornet's started to appear at the entrance to the nest. After some cold mornings this week I had assumed the hornets would be inactive. They were slow, but not inactive. One of the hornets started to buzz me after I overstayed my welcome.



A close-up view of the hornet's face.

31 October 2014

Happy Halloween

A photo of our son Brad's Halloween Jack-O'-Lantern.


Happy Halloween

29 October 2014

Turkeys

This Saturday is the start of the state wild turkey hunting season and these birds have been taunting me for the last week. If they follow the same game plan they used last year, I'll won't see them at all on Saturday.