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Posts Tagged Wildlife

Suet Feeder Temporary Fix

The neighborhood raccoons made off with our steel-cage suet feeder, leaving a dangling chain, several puzzled woodpeckers, and a potential gap in Mary’s FeederWatch data. A quick Thingiverse search turned up a likely candidate and a few hours of 3D printing produced a replacement:

3D printed suet feeder

3D printed suet feeder

The cheerful party colors just sort of happened after I realized orange wasn’t the new steel.

I bandsawed the top plate from an acrylic sheet, rather than devote several hours to printing a simple disk with two slots. Said slots came from a bit of freehand work with the drill press, a step drill bit, and a nasty carbide milling bur(r).

The loops holding the chains won’t last for long, as hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers land with thump.

It hangs from the stub of a former ski pole, loosely secured to the bracket holding the former feeder, and extending another two feet over the abyss beyond the patio. I doubt the raccoons will remain daunted for long, but maybe they’ll catch a heart attack when it collapses.

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Hawk vs. Squirrel Scuffle

A light overnight snowfall revealed an early morning drama:

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle - overview

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle – overview

I think a hawk stooped on a squirrel, perhaps launching from the utility pole by the garden, scuffled across the driveway to the right, and hauled breakfast off to a nearby tree:

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle - approach

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle – approach

The driveway always shows many tracks, but the ones entering from the center-right don’t continue out the left:

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle - tracks right

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle – tracks right

Another view:

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle - tracks left

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle – tracks left

A pair of squirrel pups appeared in the last week. They’d make a good, easily carried hawk breakfast.

Go, hawk, go!

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Critters on the Patio

A light snowfall revealed plenty of overnight traffic on the patio:

Small animal tracks in the snow

Small animal tracks in the snow

I should set up an IR camera to watch what’s going on out there!

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Salty Spider

An unusual ingredient in the water softener salt reservoir:

Spider atop Water Softener Salt

Spider atop Water Softener Salt

They’re everywhere!

I figured it found a way in and can find its own way out, so I just closed the lid and backed carefully away …

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Monthly Science: USDA Inspection Stamps

I recently bought a pair of pork belly packages, one labeled “Local” at an additional buck a pound. They were packaged skin side downward, so the USDA inspection stamps came as a surprise:

Pork Belly Skin - USDA Stamps

Pork Belly Skin – USDA Stamps

Turns out the digits give the “establishment number”, which you can look up online. These came from a processor in Pine Plains.

We presume they keep track of their pigs …

The meat is curing even as I type. Next week: smoking.

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Honeybee for Supper

We often have supper on the patio, with a fly swatter at the ready, but honeybees get special treatment:

Honeybee on cooked squash

Honeybee on cooked squash

She surveyed both our plates, landed on my cooked squash, and probed into the crevices as she would to extract nectar from a flower. The weather has been dry for the last few days and we think she was looking for anything providing a bit of moisture.

I splashed some water on the table and plopped that part of the squash nearby, in the hopes she’d find what she needs. We’ll never know the end of the story.

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Monthly Science: Raising a Monarch Butterfly

A Monarch butterfly laid eggs in late July. On the 29th of July they looked like this:

Monarch Egg - focus stacked

Monarch Egg – focus stacked

By August 2, a pair of caterpillars had hatched and grew to 3 mm:

Monarch caterpillar - 3 mm - 2017-08-02

Monarch caterpillar – 3 mm – 2017-08-02

A day later, they were 4 mm long:

Monarch caterpillars - 4 mm - 2017-08-03

Monarch caterpillars – 4 mm – 2017-08-03

They really were sort of blue-ish with green hints:

Monarch caterpillar 1 - 4 mm - 2017-08-03

Monarch caterpillar 1 – 4 mm – 2017-08-03

And:

Monarch caterpillar 2 - 4 mm - 2017-08-03

Monarch caterpillar 2 – 4 mm – 2017-08-03

By August 9, one had had more mature coloration:

Monarch caterpillar - 2017-08-09

Monarch caterpillar – 2017-08-09

The other caterpillar had vanished; we assume it got out of the aquarium and wandered off.

Apparently, the front end of the caterpillar (at the bottom of the picture) has a hard windshield reflecting the ring of LEDs around the camera lens. The caterpillar eats its skin after each molting, except for the windshield:

Monarch Windshield - 2017-08-09

Monarch Windshield – 2017-08-09

We kept fresh milkweed branches in a vase and the caterpillar ate almost continuously:

Monarch caterpillar - 2017-08-13

Monarch caterpillar – 2017-08-13

By August 15, the caterpillar was ready for the next stage in its life. At 10 in the morning it had attached itself to the screen covering the aquarium and assumed the position:

Monarch caterpillar - starting chrysalis - 2017-08-15

Monarch caterpillar – starting chrysalis – 2017-08-15

It transformed into a chrysalis by 5:30 PM:

Monarch Chrysalis - with skin

Monarch Chrysalis – with skin

The discarded skin remained loosely attached until I carefully removed it.

What look like small yellow spots are actually a striking metallic gold color.

Eleven days later, on August 26 at 9 AM, the chrysalis suddenly became transparent:

Monarch chrysalis - ready - left

Monarch chrysalis – ready – left

And:

Monarch chrysalis - ready - right

Monarch chrysalis – ready – right

The shape of the butterfly becomes visible in reflected light:

Monarch chrysalis - ready - ventral detail

Monarch chrysalis – ready – ventral detail

The gold dots and line remained visible.

The magic happened at 3 PM:

Monarch chrysalis - emerging - unfolding

Monarch chrysalis – emerging – unfolding

The compacted wings emerge intense orange on the top and lighter orange on the bottom:

Monarch unfolding - left

Monarch unfolding – left

The butterfly took most of the day to unfurl and stiffen its wings into flat plates:

Monarch unfolding - dorsal

Monarch unfolding – dorsal

And:

Monarch unfolding - right

Monarch unfolding – right

By 8 PM it began exploring the aquarium:

Monarch unfolded - right

Monarch unfolded – right

As adults, they sip nectar from flowers, but don’t feed for the first day, so we left it in the aquarium overnight.

At 10 AM on August 27, we transported it to the goldenrod in the garden, where it immediately began tanking operations:

Monarch on Milkweed - left

Monarch on Milkweed – left

A few minutes later, it began sun-warming operations:

Monarch on Milkweed - dorsal

Monarch on Milkweed – dorsal

Mary watched it while she was tending the garden and, an hour or so later, saw it take off and fly over the house in a generally southwest direction. It will cross half the continent under a geas prohibiting any other action, eventually overwinter in Mexico with far too few of its compadres, then die after producing the eggs for a generation beginning the northward journey next year.

Godspeed, little butterfly, godspeed …

In the spirit of “video or it didn’t happen”, there’s a 15 fps movie of the emergence taken at 5 s/image.

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