Posts Tagged Wildlife

Everybody Wants to be a Star

The Wzye Pan camera overlooking the bird feeders attracted the attention of a Downy Woodpecker:


Screenshot_20181029-112307 - Downy Woodpecker at the Pan

Screenshot_20181029-112307 – Downy Woodpecker at the Pan

The camera sits on a “guest” branch of the house network, fenced off from the rest of the devices, because Pi-Hole showed it relentlessly nattering with its Chinese servers:

Blocked Domains - Wyze iotcplatform

Blocked Domains – Wyze iotcplatform

In round numbers, the Pan camera tried to reach those (blocked) iotcplatform domains every 30 seconds around the clock, using a (permitted) lookup to check Internet connectivity. Pi-Hole supplied the latter from its cache and squelched the former, but enough is enough.

I haven’t tested for traffic to hardcoded dotted-quad IP addresses not requiring DNS lookups through the Pi-Hole. Scuttlebutt suggests the camera firmware includes binary blobs from the baseline Xaiomi/Dafang cameras, so there’s no telling what’s going on in there.

The Xiaomi-Dafang Hacks firmware doesn’t phone home to anybody, but requires router port forwarding and a compatible RTSP client on the remote end. Isolating it from the rest of the LAN must suffice until I can work out that mess; I assume the camera has already made my WiFi passwords public knowledge.


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Monthly Image: Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest

The side of our house seems to attract Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasps during nesting season.

One pair of wasps built this impressive structure behind the patio door, beside the bathroom window:

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest - side view

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest – side view

The female wasp built six tubes over the course of an August week, carrying blobs of mud the size of her head and abdomen from sources about 30 seconds away (1 minute round trip). Each blob produces half of one serration around the tube, with a seam running down the middle, and requires 20 seconds to smooth into place. We got tired just watching her!

Each tube has many compartments, each containing a wasp larva and a paralyzed spider, with a mud cap inside the end:

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest - bottom view B

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest – bottom view B

We watched the wasps attack, sting, and remove spiders of a specific size from the corners of our window frames.

The young wasps in the innermost tube may not make it out alive, because they must chew through at least one outer tube before flying away:

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest - bottom view A

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp Nest – bottom view A

Perhaps layering the outer tubes around a central tube makes for a more compact and durable nest, with the possible sacrifice of offspring in the center.

The new wasps will likely emerge next spring.


Excavator Family

We’re accustomed to seeing geese with goslings and turkeys with chicks around this time of year, but we didn’t realize excavators have a similar breeding season (clicky for more dots):

Excavator Family - Vassar College

Excavator Family – Vassar College

The adult seems very protective …

Spotted on the Vassar College campus, in front of the dining hall.


Vulture Liftoff

A yummy  carcass on New Hackensack Rd near Wappinger Falls attracted a pair of vultures, one barely visible on the right just beyond Mary (clicky for more dots):

Vultures - New Hackensack Rd - 2018-08-27 - 0159

Vultures – New Hackensack Rd – 2018-08-27 – 0159

Half a second later, they’re both airborne and flapping in unison:

Vultures - New Hackensack Rd - 2018-08-27 - 0190

Vultures – New Hackensack Rd – 2018-08-27 – 0190

The one on the left swooped around the bushes and we both anticipated a collision, but it decided against returning to the carcass until we passed.

Bon appétit!

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Monthly Science: Monarch Caterpillars!

After several years of seeing few-to-no Monarch butterflies, last year we managed to save a single Monarch egg, raise the caterpillar, and release it:

Monarch on Milkweed - left

Monarch on Milkweed – left

This year, we’ve seen more, if not many, Monarchs in flight. They’re not abundant, but perhaps there’s hope.

A Monarch evidently laid eggs in our milkweed patch, with at least two offspring surviving:

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We decided to let them seek their own destiny; may the odds be ever in their favor …


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Dismantled Bee

This parts collection appeared atop the driveway wall, arranged just as shown:

Dismantled Bee

Dismantled Bee

It seems something snagged a large bee (not a honeybee!), ate the contents, and left the wrapper behind. We’ll never know the rest of the story.

Puts one in mind of Turner in Count Zero, though.


Monthly Image: Maple Tree Fungus

Repaving the driveway truncated the roots of a maple tree and, this year, produced a handsome pair of fungii:

Fungus - top view

Fungus – top view

Seen from the side, they’re even more complex:

Fungus - side view

Fungus – side view

They’re firm and perfectly healthy, but the tree is likely doomed.