Posts Tagged Wildlife

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.


Too Many Deer: Roadside Attraction

A mutual staredown during a utility bike ride:

Roadside Deer - Rt 376 Marker 1111 - 2018-06-20

Roadside Deer – Rt 376 Marker 1111 – 2018-06-20

This is just after noon, when deer should be snoozing, north of Paula’s Public House, with the deer on the creek side of the road. I’m towing the trailer with an empty propane tank, coasting down from 18 mph, and expecting the deer to jump in front of me, because that’s what deer do. It waited patiently until I passed, hopped the guide rail, trotted across the road, then clambered up the steep hillside away from the Mighty Wappinger Creek.

Searching for deer will reveal many more encounters.

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