31 July 2012

Praying Mantis

We were doing some clean-up of rotten wood behind our house and found a hitchhiker on one of the pieces. Maybe he thought my green John Deere backhoe was a very large relative, but he stayed on the front-end loader bucket for some time.

While the praying mantis may look like a creature from a Sci-fi movie, some people keep them as pets.

30 July 2012


I had parked my truck along the driveway to our cabin and got out to take some pictures of butterflies and bees. When I returned to the truck I found these two fawns feeding within 25 feet of the other side of the truck. They continued to feed and then walked back into the brush

29 July 2012


While I was mowing the lawn next to the cabin driveway I noticed a flock Canada Geese were checking out the newly seeded pipeline right-of-way. I was mowing with the old John Deere tractor and as with many other animals, the geese just continued to graze as I mowed.

After a meal of fresh young grass the geese took a dip in the pond and continue to watch me mow.

The geese seemed to feel at home at the pond as I waited for them to move out of my way when I finished mowing.

I returned to the cabin with my backhoe in the afternoon and found the geese had move to the pipeline route on the hill top, maybe they liked the view.

With their bellies full it was time for the geese to leave.

28 July 2012


While I was preparing to do some work at our barn I notice two hen turkeys and 15 young poults in our field. The poults feeding on bugs and would form an evenly spaced line as they worked their way across the field.

When the turkeys reached the end of the field they would swing around 180 degrees and work back across another section of the field.

As the turkeys were feeding in the field, a neighborhood cat approached the field from the tall grass. The two hens immediately approached the cat and forced it to leave the field.

27 July 2012

Storm Damage

After this summer's long dry spell a lot of us were looking for any rain we could get. We got some rain and more, high winds.

We had been in the mid-west last week visiting two of our sons and on our return trip we hit the storm in Erie, PA. As we traveled east on I-86 we followed the storm as it traveled through southern New York and watched the lightning flash in front of us as we headed east. In Corning, NY we saw trees snapped in midair and the tops thrown hundreds of feet across I-86. This damage continued to the east of Elmira. We now know the National Weather Service has officially confirmed that an EF1 tornado had touched down in Elmira.

When we arrived back in Rome we found some storm damage on Joyce Road. Brian & Tish Hopkins had a large willow tree blow over in their lawn.

Harley & Barb Kay had a tree blow across their driveway. We just had several limbs blow off trees at our barn.

25 July 2012

Wildflower - Queen Anne's Lace

By early Summer the white umbrella-like flowers of Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) are popping up all over the fields and roadsides. Queen Anne's Lace, also known as Wild Carrot, is native to Europe and was bred to create the orange vegetable carrot we eat.

A close-up look at the flower head shows hundreds of small flowers and many small insects.

24 July 2012

Wildflower - Jewelweed

Find any damp and partly sunny area in our neighborhood and you will most likely find Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

This member of the Balsam family (Balsaminaceae) is native to North America and the stem juice is said to relieve itching from poison ivy and athletes foot.

This plant is also known as the "Spotted Touch-me-not" because its ripe seedpods pop open at a gentle touch.

23 July 2012

Wildflower - Soapwort

I found some Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis), also known as Bouncing Bet, growing along Joyce Road, not far from our cabin driveway.

This member of the Pink family (Caryophyllaceae) is native to Europe and gest the name Soapwort from its use as a cleaning soap.

22 July 2012

Wildflower - Deptford Pink

I started noticing many small pink flowers growing along the pipeline access road at our cabin. At first I thought it was some run-a-way Sweet-William plants from our barn property. These plants were much smaller and the flowers weren't bunched together like the Sweet William.

I have now identified the flower as Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria), a member of the Pink family (Caryophyllaceae). This non-native plant comes from Europe and gets its name from the town of Deptford, England where the plant grew abundantly. The Sweet-William is a garden relative of the Deptford Pink. The seed for this plant may have been transported to our property during construction of the access road.

21 July 2012

Wildflower - Cattail

When you think of Cattails (Typha latifolia), you normally don't associate them with wildflowers but the fuzzy stalk they produce is a flower. There are several wetland areas below our barn that are overgrown with cattails.

The Cattail flower spike has two flowers on one stalk. The top part of the flower spike (the fuzzy brown section in photo) is the male flower and beneath it is the green (immature) female flower.

As the flower matures, the fuzzy male flower will be shed and the female flower will turn dark brown.

20 July 2012

Wildflower - Elecampane

The Elecampane (Inula helenium) below our barn is in bloom.

This member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) can grow to 6 feet tall and is native to Europe.

19 July 2012

Wildflower - Blue Vervain

The Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata), also known as Swamp Verbena, has taken over the outflow area near our pond.

This member of the Vervain family (Verbenaceae) is a native wildflower and can produce hundreds of 1/8 inch flowers on each spike.

18 July 2012

Butterflies and Moths

While taking photos of flowers I sometimes can get butterflies and moths to hold still long enough for a picture. Here are a few of my recent photos.

Eight-spotted Forester (Alypia octomaculata)

Eastern Tailed Blue (Cupido comyntas)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Unidentified Moth

17 July 2012

Wildflower - Scarlet Beebalm

The Scarlet Beebalm (Monarda didyma) is in bloom behind our house. This member of the Mint family (Lamiaceae) is native to the south and has become established here in the north. Scarlet Beebalm likes moist well drained soil with shade or partial sun. We have two large patches of Scarlet Beebalm growing along the small creek behind our house.

This aromatic herb is also known as bergamot, scarlet monarda, crimson beebalm and Oswego tea. The name Oswego Tea refers to the use of the leaves for a tea by the Oswegos of New York. Early colonists also used the plant for this purpose when regular tea was scarce.

16 July 2012


Along the driveway to our cabin is a large patch of Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) which is in full bloom. I make this one of my daily stops for photos because of the many butterflies and bees that are attracted to the flowers. Click on image to enlarge and see detail of bee and flower.

15 July 2012

Wildflower - Evening Primrose

I found this Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) blooming along the cabin driveway, just off Joyce Road. The Evening Primrose is a native North American wildflower.

The flowers partly close during the day, and fully open in the evening. With our current hot/day weather the flower wasn't easy to locate and photograph.

Since the flower is a night bloomer, this plant attracts a variety of moths but other insects will take advantage of an open flower.

14 July 2012

Wildflower - Teasel

While it may look like a member of the thistle family, the Common Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) is not a thistle. This member of the teasel family (Dipsacaceae) is native to Eurasia and North Africa.

The flowers bloom on the egg shaped head in rows starting near the middle. The head is covered with hundreds of individual flowers that burst forth from between the bristles of the head. The color of the flowers can vary from pink to blue but the teasel on our cabin property has white flowers.

On the neighbor's property, the teasels are a blueish-pink.

This plant can grow in poor/dry soil and reach 9 foot tall. Our teasels are growing next to a rock pile by Joyce Road and are at least 8 feet tall.

Even a year after blooming the plant stalk and flower heads are still around.

13 July 2012

Summer Deer

I've been doing a lot of work with my tractors at our cabin and the deer pay little attention to me while I'm working. This doe and twin fawns came out to visit the food plot while I was working 30 yards away.

Earlier in the day, a doe was grazing at the food plot when I arrived to work at the pond. When the doe finished grazing it walk withing 15 yards of me to bed down in the tall grass below the dam. During the day I had kicked a buck and doe out of this same spot.

12 July 2012

Wildflower - Bull Thistle

The Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) is another plant that farmers and landowners have very little love for. This member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) is native to Europe and has become an invasive weed in North America.

As with many of the non-native invasive weeds, insects such as this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) are attracted to the Bull Thistle.

A bee covered with pollen on the Bull Thistle flower.

A close-up view of the Bull Thistle flower.

11 July 2012

Wildflower - Goldenrod

The Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) is starting to bloom. This plant is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and considered a weed by most farmers but it's a source of nectar for honeybees, butterfies and other insects.

The flower heads are made up of many small flowers.

Many goldenrod stalks will have a large bump, known as a gall, which is caused by the Goldenrod Gall Fly. The Gall Fly will lay its eggs in the stalk and the insect larva receives protection from most predators by living within the gall and it uses the inside of the gall for food.