Vultures Sunning

Spotted after pre-season prep at Mary’s Vassar Farms garden:

Vultures sunning
Vultures sunning

It must feel really good up there atop the old barn, even if they’re sunning themselves to kill off parasites.

Taken with the Pixel 3a zoomed all the way in at 7× from a bit over 200 feet:

Vultures sunning - photo range
Vultures sunning – photo range

Then cropped and sharpened just a smidge. Not a great picture, but good enough for practical purposes; the Good Camera + Big Glass takes better pix and is too awkward to carry in my pocket.

Tour Easy Seat Hatchery

Removing the seat from Mary’s Tour Easy revealed an unexpected sight:

Tour Easy seat - bottom view
Tour Easy seat – bottom view

A closer view:

Tour Easy seat - pupal remains
Tour Easy seat – pupal remains

An insect, most likely a rather large butterfly or moth, decided to pupate on the underside of the seat, tucked inside the old seat cover. We can’t fault the critter’s logic!

Mary is sewing up new seat covers for our Tour Easy ‘bents in preparation for the new riding season. Who knows what we’ll find under there in a few years?

Suet Feeder Extension

Shortly after this season’s suet feeder deployment, the neighborhood raccoons emptied it. A few years ago, putting a 3D printed feeder at the end of a repurposed ski pole protected it for a few weeks, so I scrounged another pole from the pile, cut off the flattened top and battered tip, and put it into service:

Suet Feeder Extension - deployed
Suet Feeder Extension – deployed

The near end has a loop made from a pair of stainless steel key cables, because a single cable was just slightly too short:

Suet Feeder Extension - anchor loop
Suet Feeder Extension – anchor loop

The far end has what was once a hook, beaten straight to fit through the hole, then beaten around the curve of the pole:

Suet Feeder Extension - chain anchor
Suet Feeder Extension – chain anchor

Raccoons lacking opposable thumbs, this should suffice until the black bear(s) spotted around here take up residence in the yard.

Monthly Science: Chestnut Weevil Damage

The dried chestnuts looked undamaged in their husk, but three groups of weevil grubs surely left some damage behind:

Chestnut husk - dried
Chestnut husk – dried

Gingerly prying the seeds out revealed holes in all three:

Chestnut weevil damage - exterior
Chestnut weevil damage – exterior

The weevils converted the nut meat into what looks like solid frass:

Chestnut weevil damage - interior
Chestnut weevil damage – interior

Having eaten themselves out of house and home, they moved on to the next plane of existence.

For most of them, that would be bird food.

Chestnut Parasites

I spotted this little gadget chugging steadily across a table in the living room:

Chestnut parasite larva - detail
Chestnut parasite larva – detail

Nearby, two of its friends / siblings / clones remained near their landing craft:

Chestnut parasite larvae - overview
Chestnut parasite larvae – overview

They’re about 5 mm long and, although there are no larva-size holes visible in the chestnuts tucked inside the burr, that’s definitely where they started their journey.

A few hours later, the rest of the crew bailed out:

Chestnut parasite larvae - irruption
Chestnut parasite larvae – irruption

The exit hole must be on a nut under the curve of the husk, but they’re sufficiently squishy to wriggle their way out. The little brown dot over on the left belongs to the top larva of a pair queued in the exit corridor:

Chestnut parasite larvae - exiting husk
Chestnut parasite larvae – exiting husk

I lost count at 18. There’s surely more where they came from, so I replaced the plate with a bowl to reduce the quantum tunneling probability.

In an ideal world, they’d grow up to be chestnut weevils, but I put them out near the suet feeder and, a few hours later, my offering was accepted.