Friday, February 20, 2009


How I managed to live (mumble, mumble) years being unaware of sundogs, I'm not sure.

It's been two years since I first saw one (and wrote about it), and I've seen dozens since.

But I still haven't managed to get a good photo of one.

I see them more often in winter, especially when driving south late in the afternoon. (AL-75S gives great sundog.)

No use trying to race them home, though. They're slithery, and don't hang around for portraits.

Here's a nice, simple page with a good sundog photo, as well as other atmospheric phenomena. Here is the definitive page on the science behind the "why" of all the optics.


The latest I and the Bird is up over at The Birder's Report. Go see!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How to mesmerize a cat

I'm not sure if it's the groovy screensaver, the Grateful Dead, or the combo.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Early bloomer

Cherry Japanese Apricot blossoms...

... at the in-laws' this past weekend.

I haven't seen cherry trees blooming around here, and the inlaws are north of here, so I guess this one's just an early bloomer.


My sister-in-law emailed to tell me that the reason this is blooming before other cherry trees, is that it isn't a cherry tree! It's a Japanese Apricot. (The bark looks just like that of a cherry.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Major award

The leg lamp from the movie A Christmas Story is so well known, that when someone speaks of a major award, you think they're kidding.

My nephew really won a major award, though.

A "What do you mean, I have to pay taxes on it?!" MAJOR Major Award.

My sister-in-law told me that he's actually the third person in the family to have won something this substantial... an aunt and an uncle, on separate sides of the family, have both won cars.

Our nephew is back stateside now, having finally finished his tour in Iraq. And you may remember that he previously served in Afghanistan.

Hubby says this bike may be more dangerous than either of those.

He had to try it out too, though.

I can't help myself, I just love a man on a motorcycle!

Monday, February 16, 2009

I feel famous now

The Nature Blog Network interviewed me (here)!

That first link takes you to their list of nature blogs, which numbers almost 700 now. I'd encourage you to sign up, if your blog's a fit.

I'm hoping that in the future they'll consider listing by geographic area too. I'd love to be able to click over to, say, a "Canada" tab, then select by province. Because I frequently find myself wondering, "What's shaking in Nova Scotia right now?"

Thanks so much to Wren for interviewing me, and to Pablo for suggesting me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Coming attractions

Many have risen...

... but few have budded.

(Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virginica.)

Shy ones have been spotted, but their lips are sealed.

(Trailing Trillium, Trillium decumbens.)

Mouthy little things, they'll soon be chewing the scenery everywhere you look.

(Toothwort, Cardamine sp.)

Tired of worn winter clothing, some are already sprouting new duds.

(Stoneseed, Lithospermum tuberosa.)

Still sleeping, but last year's faded poster marks the spot of exciting future installments.

(Foamflower, Tiarella cordifolia.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chipping sparrow

Poor little stunned Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina).

Birds do still occasionally fly into our windows, dirty as they are.

I found a sheltered spot in the woods and left him there to recover on his own. Later I googled, and it suggested that we should have kept the bird in a towel-lined, dark shoebox for an hour or two.


Don't forget to visit the Friday Ark.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Squirrels have their own ideas about what makes a good stumpery. "Feeding platforms, a must-have!"

This is what remains of our old falling tree problem.

Turkey-tailish fungi march up one side and down the next.

Flamboyant fungus.


I only learned about stumperies earlier this week, when a friend sent me an article about the one on Vashon Island. (Pat Riehl, the owner of that one, will be speaking at the B'ham Fern Society lecture in May.)


Trying to google images of stumperies brought me to an interesting blog, the Folly Fancier, who had featured this stumpish superstructure.

I saw that FF had also written about the Lupercale grotto, another coincidence, since of course Lupercalia starts tomorrow.


And a dog nicknamed Stump just won the Westminster dog show.

Monday, February 09, 2009

There should be a word for it

It happens a lot... you learn something new, then you start to encounter it everywhere.

After learning about Swamp rabbits recently, I thought this log cried out for closer inspection.

Decaying log - check.
Swampy area - check.
Lack of other suitable latrines (elevated flat surfaces) in area - check.


This surface really isn't flat at all, but I've been noticing that flat isn't nearly as important as elevated, to a Swamp rabbit.

Decaying isn't that important either - closer to our house (where there are mostly cedars), they almost always use mossy rocks, or rocks where leaf litter collects naturally.

If you become tired while walking through the woods, and think, "There's a good place to sit," well, chances are, a Swamp rabbit has thought that too.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

What madness

My Mom's old neighbor had a beautiful wall-trained Pyracantha espalier.

Some strain of madness* evidently struck the new occupant. He cut it all down, while it was full of berries.

Mom rescued a few branches for display.


*Rhodophobia, the fear of the color red?


This is not the first time I've wished for a Big Book of Phobias. The internet can't find me a word that means fear of berries. Or fear of thorns, though I'm almost certain those words must exist.


P.S. Go visit the Festival of the Trees, if you haven't already.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Armchair birding

Female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), eating berries from an Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana).

As seen from our living room sofa.

Please excuse the dirty window glass. I don't wash the windows, so that the birds won't fly into them. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

I didn't actually know that Sapsuckers ate berries, until I saw this one doing it.