Oh, What a Night!

Our living room window looks toward the west, over a highway, across a farmer’s field and on over to woods and a house.

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I usually sit by the window and eat my supper. The view varies.

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A tall wall of clouds added drama to this unusual view.

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Then the sun held it’s spot. The odd thing was there wasn’t a definite hard-edged to the sun’s shape.

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The sun seemed to emanate with slightly changing colors.

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It all seemed to stand still in its part of the sky’s landscape.

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Where exactly was the sun’s location? Apparently it created its own pattern and shapes of light.

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What was sinking in what?

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… and then an eagle soared by.

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I still don’t understand why the sun lacked a definite shape.

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The colors gradually faded as night approached.

A Pruner, a Girdler and a ?

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We have a dawn redwood tree in our backyard

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that my mother gave us years ago. These pictures were taken the end of November.

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I found several twigs on the ground under the tree.

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What “cut” the twigs from the tree, and how did they do it to make the end look like that?

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There are tree pruner insects. A full-grown twig pruner chews through the wood from the inside out. This leaves a smooth cut on the inside of the twig. The ragged edge results from the twig breaking.

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This broken twig resulted from a female tree girdler chewing a v-shaped groove around the twig. The small larva overwintered in the fallen twig.

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The ones off the redwood tree don’t look like the work of a girdler or a pruner.

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It will probably remain a mystery … unless I find another clue in the future.

 

 

Fascination With Ice

These pictures were taken in 2008 and were put in a blog when I started blogging in 2012.  Obviously, I didn’t post it. Since our winter has been relatively mild, I thought now would be a good time to post it.

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It was a strong snow and ice storm! The weather remained frigid and nothing melted.

I wish I had an explanation of how the ice formed on this coneflower seedhead.

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It was surprising that the rosemary could support the weight of the ice.

Notice in all the pictures at how the ice inverted all the reflections. The red in the left is an upside down reflection of our barn.

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I’m not sure what this plant was. It has the snow in the upper part of the reflections and the sky below.

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Thin stems reflections turned into wavy lines in the ice.

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I still don’t have an explanation for the lumpy shapes lining these stems.

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The whole backyard became a crystal showcase.

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I can’t remember what this was either. It was about waist high and looked similar to corn. I didn’t see how some of the plants could remain standing with all the weight of the ice.

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Red maple branches turned the reflections every which way. The duller red in the top is our barn in an upside position.

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I didn’t want to leave the lichens out,

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or the aster remnants either.

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I’m not sure what tree this was on

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or this one either.

The ice storm was one of those magical times that stays with you for years.

Fox Update

I haven’t smelled the scent foxes use as an deterrent for Buffy and/or me. We went out before supper, walked around, even close to the barn, and no strong fox scent.

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These three pictures were taken last year. I’m hoping they return next month. They breed late January into early February. Gestation lasts 51 days.

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So, my fingers are crossed that they return before the young are born in late March or early April.

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There’s an old strip pit behind our house and it goes east for two miles or so. The road makes two right angle turns before it straightens out. There’s a house on the corner. Late last summer I would see the young foxes out playing when I was on my way to Ingram Hill.

So, I figure they have a den back there too … and maybe that’s where they are now. The den that they rear the young in is usually deeper than the temporary retreats.

So, I plan to keep my fingers crossed and keep a watch out for them. I will know they’re back if I see them or if I smell the strong scent they use as a deterrent to intruders.

A Small Snow Cave

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A small snow cave partially covers ed blister lichen (Physcia stellaris)  growing on a limb in our dawn redwood tree. It’s also called a star rosette lichen. It’s a foliose lichen — a leafy looking lichen (say that three times fast). They reproduce by spores, which is the black in each disc.

Well, Well, Well … Foxes

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 I was about ready to eat lunch, and my husband said, “fox.” To his bow room I went, camera in hand! This was on January 5.

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The visit was short.

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It jumped off the “platform” and trotted to the thicket in the back corner of our yard. There’s an opening under our neighbor’s fence that they use when they come and go.

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Then this afternoon (January 13), with the temperature rising and the snow mostly melted, I headed out for a loop walk of our backyard. I had planned to look for fox prints by the barn. And I actually found one. I snapped four pictures and suddenly there was a strong  nasty smell. A fox was under there, and it wanted me to leave. I did.

(The track is a tad hard to see because of the direction of the light. It’s roughly in the center of the picture.

The next day, Buffy and I were walking a loop around the back back of our yard. Buffy showed a lot of interest along the side of the barn. She went around there two or three times. The fox had about half of the backyard smelling!

As of today, January 23, I haven’t seen the foxes or seen any tracks in the snow. The male’s probably going out in a different direction. I know they’re still under there because they “scent” the backyard every time we’re out there.

 

 

 

Therese, This One’s for You

Buffy and Therese sat on top of the bluff, surrounded on three sides by a horseshoe-shaped lake.

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 The “road” in is an old railroad bed, with a steep hill on the north and a wetland with a creek running through it on the south.

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This was the first view when we reached the pond.

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A redbud tree bloomed at the base of the bluff, and the water lilies were starting to fill in areas of the lake.

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This shows where we started the climb up to the top. The slope seemed steeper than it looks when we climbed it.

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We often saw a pair of turkey vultures perched on the rocks to the right of the redbud tree.

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Obviously, we didn’t get near the edge of the bluff.

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A horseshoe-shaped outcropping paralleled the bluff.

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The whole area was beautiful during every season, especially in the spring when the wildflowers bloomed.

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It wasn’t a place to take young kids.

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Therese, I hope you enjoyed your hike.

Kathy

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