Same Road, Different Snake

In just a few minutes Treebeard and I are heading off to the city to see our "baby" -- all 6'3" of him ;) It's hard to believe that our little Flamebrain turns 25 today. Where does time go?

Before we go I wanted to share a few images of another snake I saw this past week in the work swamp. It was on the same road as the rattler -- the work swamp is a snaky place, doncha know :) This one is an eastern kingsnake. When I saw it, it was quite busy pushing its way into a turtle nest to get the eggs.



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Have a terrific Friday.


Snake Crossing

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When patrolling the swamp I always keep an eye out for pedestrians. This particular one took its own sweet time crossing the road but I certainly didn't mind. I think rattlesnakes are quite beautiful and I enjoyed having the opportunity to watch it for a minute or two.

Click to enlarge the photo and see if you can spot the bear tracks...

a little post script...

As Hugh pointed out in the comments section, this snake had quite a rattle:
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The Frustration of Fungi

I would very much like to have a mycologist at my beck and call. Fungi are so very cool and so massively frustrating to identify. For example, each year I find a particular bolete, bright yellow with cinnamon pores and olive spores. You'd think such a distinctive mushroom would be easily IDed, even by a rank amateur such as myself. But no, I can't find it anywhere. ARGH.

Below are photos of some of the fungi I found while out late this afternoon. Sure, I have a guess as to what each one is...but a guess is a dangerous thing when IDing mushrooms ;) Well, no matter the species, I found them all to be interesting to look at.



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Throwing Pots

Wasps are fascinating. I love to watch them at work building their nests, whether they be paper or mud or a hole in the ground. Unfortunately, I don't always get to see the building part. Case in point, the mud pots below. I found them as they are, fastened to a small tree in the parking lot at work. The top pot is complete and sealed up, probably with a few small, smooth-skinned caterpillars inside - along with an egg. The lower pot will probably be full soon and capped. If the female is successful, then her offspring will emerge in the course of time. But, there is always the chance that another species will emerge instead -- the world is full of parasites and squatters ;)

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Pots of a potter wasp, perhaps in the genus Eumenes


Bee Condo



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We are always eager to find ways to encourage native bees to take up residence in our yard. We have plenty of unmowed areas and a few dead snags, but we wanted to get these little pollinators closer to the garden. Treebeard made a couple of bee condos and drilled holes of various diameters. As you can see from the third photo, we already have tenants!

Next we plan to make a sand mound for ground nesting bees/wasps. We had a bunch of residents last year when the house was under construction so I expect we will be successful.

Tread lightly and share your space :)


Early Morning

In the damp of the early morning I prowl the yard, one eye on the tree line. I know I'll have to go in once the sun creeps up over the tulip poplars, but until then I have some freedom.

First I check the prothonotary nest box - all is well. Mama prothonotary is tucked away inside and Papa is making the rounds, singing for all he's worth. Next, the wren's nest under the porch. Her babies have hatched and it's driving my indoor cats crazy. Somewhere out in the wild fringe of the yard we also have nesting indigo buntings and blue grosbeaks. Just across the road I can see the summer tanagers. We haven't pinpointed their nest yet. Treebeard carefully checks on the bluebirds -- one egg so far in their second brood of the year. The wood thrush that wakes us each morning in just out of sight singing its song. Mama turkey has her babies out in the tall grass somewhere. All seems well with the avian crew that calls our property home.

On to the garden, quickly now the sun is getting higher. In the garden all the insects are drowsy. A pollen covered bumblebee slowly stirs after spending the night in a squash blossom. And a yellow bear (Spilosoma virginica) is suffering from bed head following its most recent molt.

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Sun's all the way up now and I have to leave for work. Sigh. I'm already looking forward to sunset. Seems I have become crepuscular ;)


Down, But Not Out

A dastardly tick has laid me low. After several days of fever, headache, chills, joint pain and fatigue I finally realized I was sick (I just kept working along, thinking I must be a little dehydrated...duh, did I mention confusion was another symptom :p ) A trip to the doctor with tick log in hand seemed in order. Since I almost never run a fever I was pretty sure I had managed to get some tick-borne illness. I immediately suspected the tick that had managed to escape my regular checks by hiding at the base of my ponytail. (All that hair is gone now -- a tick will be hard pressed to hide in what I have left!)

Most likely diagnosis: Ehrlichiosis. I should get the results of the blood tests back early this week. Meanwhile I am taking doxycycline - the first antibiotic that has entered my body in the past 18 or 20 years. The good news is that I feel much better, not 100%, but better. The bad news is that I have to stay inside for the full course of the antibiotic -- 20 DAYS!!! The antibiotic makes me more sensitive to the sun and since I'm a redhead (strawberry blonde variety), I'm already prone to burn :(

Anyway, I just wanted to touch base and let you know why I haven't been answering your comments or posting anything new. Hope to be back soon. Meanwhile, y'all have fun out there and don't forget to check for ticks!