Saturday, August 15, 2009

Red Tomatoes!!

In the past my attempts to grow tomatoes on my mostly shady deck haven't been very successful. The best I've gotten is either a small handful of cherry tomatoes or a couple of big, hard green ones around the end of August. This year I planted a "Bush Champion" that is supposed to mature at 65 days, the shortest time I could find. And now that the weather has turned hot again....they're ripening!!! I can't wait to pick the first one.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Neighborhood Crows

I've been noticing a small flock of half a dozen or so crows roosting in the trees around my garden since we got back from vacation. They've been so quiet you wouldn't know they were there unless you noticed them flying in or specifically looked for them. The one on the right here must be a juvenile because it looked like the other one was feeding it something just before I took this image.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What Big Eyes You Have!

We had a little visitor at one of our campsites last week. To mimic some semblance of civilization through running water we hang a Camelback water pouch on a tree. When the Co-conspirator was going for an evening toothbrushing we discovered this nocturnal forest dweller clinging to the strap.

It's a Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus.) It's a completely nocturnal rodent that few people see. I believe I've seen the southern species in our neighborhood briefly silhouetted against the light as it leapt from one branch to another. It's shape is distinctive looking sort of like a square kite with squirrel limbs, tail and head. Flying squirrels don't actually fly, but rather glide on the folds of skin that run between their front and hind limbs.

This one was so intent on licking the strap it didn't seem to mind us standing right near it and talking about it. We think it was drawn to the salt on the fabric. It didn't leave until I tripped on a root and made a sudden move.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's Boreal, not Boring!

Last week's camping trip took me to a really special biome, the boreal forest. It's a band of temperate forest just a few hours north of here and you can tell you're getting there when you start seeing fewer deciduous trees and more conifers. What's fun about entering a completely different biome is that you start to see different wildlife, too. For example, one encounters more species of warblers, only a few of which nest around my home. The Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotita varia), however, moves farther north in the summer and I normally only see them when they migrate through in spring and fall.

Around where I live we have mostly White-breasted Nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) but in the boreal forest one sees more Red-breasted Nuthatches (S. canadensis) as well.

More boreal beauty to come!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Now that I'm back home from a week camping in the northwoods I really miss being outside all the time. Maybe some pics will come later, but for now here is a list of the cool mammals and birds I encountered:

Red Squirrel
River Otter
Flying Squirrel
White-tailed Deer
Black Bear
Black Squirrel

Olive-sided Flycatcher
Black-capped Chickadee
Cedar Waxwing
American Robin
White-throated Sparrow
Bald Eagle
Common Tern
Common Loon
Ring-billed Gull
Red-breasted Merganser
Gray Catbird
American Goldfinch
American Crow
Blue Jay
American Redstart
Downy Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Northern Flicker
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Canada Warbler
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Norther Harrier
Mourning Dove
Red-winged Blackbird
Indigo Bunting
Least Sandpiper
American Woodcock
Red-eyed Vireo
Barred Owl (Heard)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Pine Warbler
Wild Turkey
Hermit Thrush
Eastern Wood Peewee
Barn Swallow
Eastern Kingbird
Canada Goose
Connecticut Warbler
Great Blue Heron
Marsh Wren
Black-and-white Warbler
Brown Thrasher
Double-crested Cormorant
Song Sparrow
Hairy Woodpecker
Common Raven
White-winged Crossbill (Unsure)
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Common Yellowthroat