Posts Tagged Wildlife

Groundhog in the Compost Bin

Mary confronted this critter in the garden, whereupon it fled into the compost bin:

Groundhog in the compost bin - front

Groundhog in the compost bin – front

She barricaded it with spare tomato cages across the bin’s entrance, I wedged an aluminum sheet behind the cages, and we got the stinkeye for our efforts:

Groundhog in the compost bin - left

Groundhog in the compost bin – left

I deployed the hose, watered it for a few minutes, and we left it to consider its options. Groundhogs are pretty much waterproof, but we hoped the wetdown would be sufficiently unpleasant to mark the garden as “Here be dragons” in its mental map.

After an hour, it had vanished. We know from past experience that groundhogs can climb up-and-over the chain link fence surrounding the compost bin (it was a dog pen for the previous owners), although it knocked down the aluminum sheet and may have exited through the garden.

It looks well-fed and ready for winter.

Searching for groundhog will reveal previous encounters with its ancestors & relatives.


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Mystery Eggs on Glass

An array of tiny eggs appeared on the outside of our bedroom window:

Insect eggs on glass - 2017-09-17

Insect eggs on glass – 2017-09-17

The patch measures 12 mm across and 14 mm tall. From across the room, it looks like a smudge, but it consists of hundreds of eggs, each on a tiny stalk glued to the glass:

IMG_20170919 vs 0917- Insect eggs on glass

IMG_20170919 vs 0917- Insect eggs on glass

The bottom image is two days later than the top one, both are scaled to about the same size and contrast. The critters look about the same, although I think the lines have more prominent ripples or bumps.

We have no idea what they’ll turn into, but they certainly look like they have two eyes and wings …


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Monthly Image: Orb-Weaving Spider

Once again, the season of orb-weaving spiders has arrived, with this one building her web across a living room window:

Orb Weaving Spider - with insect

Orb Weaving Spider – with insect

I set the Sony HDR-AS30V atop a tripod, told it to take photos at 5 second intervals, then stitched the images into a Youtube video. It won’t go viral, but watching the spider construct her web over the course of two hours was fascinating.

She finishes the spiral at about 1 m video = 1.25 h real time, settles down for what might be a nap (it’s hard to tell with spiders), and has an insect join her for supper at 1:28, half an hour later. Spiders go from “inert” to “death incoming” almost instantly, even in real time running.

Another orb weaver set up shop in the adjacent window, but moved out the next day. Perhaps there’s a minimum spacing requirement?

Two more orb weavers guard windows in the kitchen and laundry room. We sometimes leave the lights on for them.

YouTube has other web-building videos with far more detail, of course.

The magic incantation to create the video from a directory of images in the form DSC01234.JPG:

sn=1 ; for f in *JPG ; do printf -v dn 'dsc%04d.jpg' "$(( sn++ ))" ; mv $f $dn ; done
ffmpeg -r 15 -i /mnt/video/2017-09-03/100MSDCF/dsc%04d.jpg -q 1 Orb-Weaving-2017-09-03.mp4


Turkey Vultures on a Rainy Day

These vultures decided to hang out high atop our neighbor’s tree during a recent day-long rainstorm:

Turkey Vultures - rainy day

Turkey Vultures – rainy day

There may be a third vulture on the branch behind the big clump of pine cones near the trunk.

This seems about as disgusted as a vulture can appear:

Turkey Vultures - rainy day - detail

Turkey Vultures – rainy day – detail

I think that’s a young vulture, without the red face of more mature specimens.

They spent most of the day there, then flew off about their business. We’re sure they spent most of the next day drying out.

Taken with the (new-to-me) DSC-H5 and 1.7× teleadapter; no extra charge for the purple fringes.


Mystery Caterpillar Revealed: Spilosoma virginica

The Mystery Caterpillars emerged from their cocoons over the course of several days, whereupon we finally identified them as Yellow Bear caterpillars who became Virginia Tiger Moths.

Moth 1, with wonderful antenna fringes identifying him as a male:

Spilosoma virginica 1 - right

Spilosoma virginica 1 – right

Moth 2, a female with smaller antenna:

Spilosoma virginica 2 - right

Spilosoma virginica 2 – right

Moth 3, another male:

Spilosoma virginica 3 - dorsal

Spilosoma virginica 3 – dorsal

The underside is diagnostic (ignore the crud on the aquarium glass):

Spilosoma virginica 3 - ventral

Spilosoma virginica 3 – ventral

We set each one on the goldenrod plant inside the garden gate, whereupon they charged up in the sun for an hour or so, then flew off about their business. They may eat a few leaves in the garden, but they’re not particularly harmful to anything and entitled to a peaceful life.

I must organize all their pictures into a life history.


Buck Season

This eight-pointer was one of two browsing in the back-yard grove:

Eight point buck deer in velvet

Eight point buck deer in velvet

The other was a mere four-pointer. In a few weeks they’ll get all feisty and browse the grove in shifts.

The notion of a “suburban hunting license”, perhaps with crossbows, may eventually gain traction.

A few days later, Mary awoke to a great clattering caused by a buck fighting free of the slot between the garden’s mesh “deer fence” and the neighbor’s wood fence, flattening the corner post in the process. A similar encounter a few years ago ended poorly.



Each of the three Mystery Caterpillars wandered around the aquarium for a few minutes, found a spot surrounded by leaves, and tucked themselves into their cocoons.

The smallest one went first and probably got the best site:

Mystery Caterpillar - Cocoon 1

Mystery Caterpillar – Cocoon 1

The medium one:

Mystery Caterpillar - Cocoon 2

Mystery Caterpillar – Cocoon 2

The largest caterpillar munched the leaf around the new cocoon and removed some of the silk (?) wrapper. It looks like the caterpillar’s fur falls off and becomes insulation inside the wrapper.

The large one with mostly black fur managed to bind two leaves together:

Mystery Caterpillar - Cocoon 3

Mystery Caterpillar – Cocoon 3

The Monarch remained calm, well above the scramble:

Monarch Chrysalis - with skin

Monarch Chrysalis – with skin

The caterpillar’s skin (or whatever it is) remained loosely attached to the outside.

All of which puts me in mind of Della Lu:


I wonder what they’re thinking after they type Y E S …