30 December 2015

Winter Grouse

It wasn't a partridge in a pear tree, from the song "Twelve Days of Christmas", but a grouse in an Autumn olive tree.

Overnight we received a wintry mix of sleet and rain, and I thought I'd see if I could track any wildlife in a brush patch near our cabin. There weren't too many tracks in the "slush", but I did walk up to a Ruffed Grouse that had been watching me.

The grouse sat on the limb as I took a dozen photos and then hopped to the ground and walked off. The grouse was much better at walking through the brush than me.

26 December 2015

White Christmas?

With east coast temperatures setting record highs in the 50' and 60's, this year's "White Christmas" was caused by fog and not snow. The view of our back lawn on Christmas morning.

This was the view from Wyalusing Rocks on Christmas morning.

24 December 2015

Snow Fleas

The winter solstice was earlier this week (Dec. 22nd) and we are officially in Winter, but the temperatures are in the 50's and 60's, and we haven't had any measurable snow, just rain.

The recent rain has left small pools of water in my fields and I noticed what looked like clumps of grass seed floating in one of the pools.

While looking at the clump of "grass seeds", some of the "grass seeds" started to jump. Upon closer inspection, the "seeds" had six legs and were identified as Snow Fleas (Hypogastrura nivicola), a species of dark blue springtail. Snow fleas (springtail) are not actually fleas (or even technically insects). Unlike fleas, springtails are not parasites; they feed on decaying organic matter in the soil.

17 December 2015

We've Been Traveling Again

Our recent travels were to a palace in Bavaria ...

Castles on the Danube ...

and a brewery in Bohemia where pilsner beer originated.

Check out our travel blog of Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. 

Central Europe Tour

08 December 2015

Princess Pine

While looking for the elusive Odocoileus virginianus (), I came across a small patch of Princess Pine (Lycopodium obscurum), also known as ground moss and clubmoss.

Princess pine gets its name from its resemblance to various conifers. However, its above-ground parts are rarely more than 6 inches tall. Princess Pine spreads by producing branching rhizomes that produce the above ground shoots. Princess Pine is harvested and used to make Christmas wreaths and garlands, but it grows very slow and a wreath represents about 25 years' growth of plants taken from the wild.

From 1946 to 1983 the town of New Albany, PA was known as the "Wreath Capital of the World" and the Herman Rynveld's wreath factory would purchase locally harvested Princess Pine for making wreaths. The large patches of Princess Pine are now gone but slowly recovering. New York State has placed it on the Protected Native Plants list.

07 December 2015


While December 1st marked the start of meteorological winter, the afternoon temperature on Saturday was in the mid 40's but the overnight temperature dropped and everything was covered with a heavy frost on Sunday morning.

This Japanese Knotweed along Joyce Road stood out like thousands of icy little fingers.

A close-up of the frost on the Japanese Knotweed.

03 December 2015


It was a damp, rainy, foggy day. The day started off foggy and in between rain showers the fog would roll in/out. Now you see our barn ...

Now you don't see it.