Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chickadees at Feeders

Poecile atricapillus

Black-capped chickadees are very common here, winter and summer. Yet I never tire of hearing their song or watching them at the feeders. When I go out to refill the feeders they scold me and fly very close. John tells me they will land on me if they are familiar with me, so I am trying to "train" them to land on my arm.

Posing nicely for me.

Chickadees love sunflower seeds. They will eat a bit of suet and a bit of seed, but sunflowers rule. They grab a seed and take it to a higher branch on the tree. While holding the seed in their toes, they crack the shell with their beak, eat the heart of the seed, and then return for another seed at the feeder.

Each chickadee has a favorite spot in the tree for cracking sunflower seeds. Some face one way all of the time and others face the other way. Sometimes they have little spats about who gets a favored perch on the feeder. They don't mind eating on the ground, whether it be snow-covered  or bare of snow.

I read that chickadees will die if they don't eat within twenty-four hours. They burn up a lot of energy and are small and can't eat that much for the future. Keep your feeders full so that they don't run out of food. Even in bad weather, the chickadees will come for a fill-up.

Another lovely pose.

These particular photographs mark a turning point for me. These were shot in shutter priority. In order to be more versatile (and having bad luck with program mode in the bird tree), I thought it was past time that I learned my camera better.

Also, I am finally learning Photoshop and actually using it. These are the first photos that I edited from raw files, converted to jpeg after editing (the only edit was cropping), tagged, put the GPS data on them and uploaded to Flickr. Learning a new workflow is very uncomfortable for me, but already I have stopped yearning for my old software and am comfortable with Photoshop workflow. I now have the original raw files plus the Photoshop files for future use. I won't ever have to use old, deteriorating jpeg images in the future. I am very pleased with the results! I am also watermarking my photographs on Flickr because of rampant stealing. I forgot to mark these.



Monday, November 29, 2010

Why Cats Hunt Alone (Photo Essay)

Zorro Stole Buddy's Mouse  1
The wait.

Zorro Stole Buddy's Mouse  2
The pounce.

Zorro Stole Buddy's Mouse  5
The catch.

Zorro Stole Buddy's Mouse  9
Zorro, the interloper.

Zorro Stole Buddy's Mouse  10
Buddy stomps off, alone.

Zorro Stole Buddy's Mouse  12
Zorro follows.

Zorro Stole Buddy's Mouse  13
Buddy calmly surrenders his catch.

Zorro Stole Buddy's Mouse  21
Buddy even washes Zorro's face.

Zorro Stole Buddy's Mouse  23
The mouse gives them pause.

Zorro Stole Buddy's Mouse  27
Buddy has forgotten the mouse.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Uh Oh

New shoulder is caving in (1)
Washed-out shoulder on Route 16.

Back when the septic engineer was testing the soil for the new septic system, they were also paving Route 16 here in Barton. They did a great job and even put in new (although very narrow) shoulders). Then we had the torrential rains in early August that caused our flash flood. On the same walk that John and I took when we found the drowning worm, we also walked down our road frontage and found that the shoulder had washed out in several places.

I really should have called the town clerk and told her. If a car had to leave the road because of moose, bear or deer being out there, they could lose an axle or something in those holes. Now that it is winter, the holes will only grow bigger. I guess I'll call in the spring.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

How Butterflies Drink Water

Red admiral  17
Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)

If you follow my butterfly photographs whether here or on my Photo A Day Blog, you have noticed that many of my butterflies are pictured on my driveway. The reason for that is that they are drinking water — tiny, miniscule droplets that are under the bluestone of the driveway after a rainfall. They dip their proboscis into the soil to extract the moisture. But until recently, I never knew what the mouth of a butterfly looked like. After photographing some well focused shots of this Red admiral, I finally saw that their mouth is more like a slit.

If you click on any of these photographs, you will open a new tab (or page) and go to the Flickr page, where you can view a larger version of the photo by clicking the "Actions" drop down menu.

Red admiral  3
You can see the proboscis here.

Red admiral  12
A closer view . . .

Red admiral  9
. . . and the closest view.

You can also see this in beautiful videos I found by jcmegabyte on YouTube. Below, you can view his Purple Hairstreak video that also shows the butterfly mouth. But explore his YouTube channel for other magnificent videos.


LOL Cat Bible: Lectionary Readings for the First Sunday of Advent, November 28, 2010

First Sunday of Advent
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:36-44


Isaiah 2:1-5

Ceiling Cat Has Hims a Mowntin
1 Ok so dis am wot Isaiah heerd bout Judah and Jerusalem.
2 Ceiling Cat will to havs teh bigest mowntin cuz him r kinng of awl.
3 Lotsa peeps will b liek, 'O wao, dats a sweet crib, letz to goe der.' An dey will an dey will b liek, 'Kewl.'
4 Ceiling Cat will juge betwn teh nayshunz, and for lotz of peepz; dey will beet thair saurds intwo plaushairs, and thair speers intwo prooning hookz; nayshun wont be liftin up saurd to uhther nayshun, no mawr will dey be learnin bout war.


Psalm 122

1 I go rejoicez with those who sayz 2 me, "Lets go 2 teh house of teh Lord!"
2 Are feet r standing in ur gates, o Jerusalem!
3 Jerusalem is builded like a city that is dense, man.
4 Thats where teh tribes go up— the tribes of teh Lord— 2 praise teh Name of teh LORD according 2 teh statute given 2 Israel.
5 Their stand teh thrones for judgment, teh thrones of teh house of David.
6 Plz pray for teh peace of Jerusalem: "May those who love u be secures.
7 May there b peace in ur walls and security in ur citadels."
8 4 teh sake of ma homies and of all teh peeplez, I will say, "Peace be in u!"
9 For teh sake of teh house of the Lord, I will seek ur prosperity.

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Romans 13:11-14

11 Naow gitcher lazy cat butt azz up outa yer comfy chair, cuz youse gunna salivate onna fast fud cheezebrgrz.
12 Lazy azz cat, nyte tyme dun; wakey wakey. You nawt prwl in dark alleyz no mor but ware shiny wyte furz.
13 Be reeeeel niec catz, nawt hav orgy anna booz anna sleep inna puke, nawt hav buttseckz an nawt do doggie styl, srsly.
14 Sted, put kittn Lard Jebus Krisps PJz onya, an nawt tink bout handjobz, buttseckz, jynaseckz or uddr stuffz. Iz frickin srsly tell youse Perv catz.

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Matthew 24:36-44

Teh dai an hour unknown!
36 "but bout dat dai or hour no wan knows, not even teh angels in heaven, nor teh son, [e] but only teh fathr.
37 as it wuz in da dais ov noah, so it will be at teh comin ov teh son ov man.
38 4 in da dais before teh flood, peeps wuz eatin an drinkin, marryin an givin in marriage, up 2 teh dai noah enterd teh ark;
39 an they knew nothin bout wut wud happen til teh flood came an took them all away. Dat iz how it will be at teh comin ov teh son ov man.
40 2 doodz will be in da field; wan will be taken an teh othr left.
41 2 women will be grindin wif hand mill; wan will be taken an teh othr left.
42 "therefore keep watch, cuz u do not knoe on wut dai ur lord will come.
43 but understand dis: if teh ownr ov teh houz had known at wut tiem ov nite teh thief wuz comin, he wud has kept watch an wud not has let his houz be brokd into.44 so u also must be ready, cuz teh son ov man will come at an hour when u do not expect him.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Deer Mouse or White-footed Mouse?

Deer mouse (13)
Deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus)

On a sunny August morning, a deer mouse suddenly appeared on the outside of the porch screen! The cats knew it was there before we did. We don't know why it was there. But we speculate that it was simply using the screen as a way to get from one place to another and the cats startled and panicked it. And then I, with my camera, scared it some more. She (it's a girl) quickly found a way down that kept her a good distance from me and the cats and slipped inside the porch wall. She was living there until recently, when I think she was caught in a trap inside the house. We use traps because the cats are sort of useless as hunters inside the house.

How do I know she was a deer mouse and not a white-footed mouse? Her tail. You can see how the color is distinctly different on the top and bottom of her tail. Deer mice and white-footed mice look nearly identical except for the tail. A white-footed mouse tail also has two colors but they are not as distinct as this.

By the way, deer mice and white-footed mice, which are both native to Vermont, are known to carry the hanta virus (or, hantavirus). In fact, people in Vermont have become sickened with the virus. So be careful — be strict in your homes about keeping the mice out. We are renovating our house so soon they won't be able to get into the walls. Be sure to read this page from the Vermont Department of Health.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Are Cats Cruel Hunters or Are They Reacting to Defensive Behaviors?

Mouser Buddy (7)
Buddy brings his mouse home.
One night this past summer I happened to be outside trying to photograph hummingbirds when Buddy, who had been sitting quietly at the edge of the field, suddenly pounced on a mouse and brought it back to the house. I guess you'd call Buddy a passive hunter, except Zorro hunts the same way. They both wait in a good mouse habitat (field or woods edge) and listen for mouse sounds. Zorro, though, will lie in a crouching position, so perhaps he is more passive than Buddy. When they hear a mouse and if it is in a good position for catching, they will jump straight in the air, land on the mouse, capture it and bring it where it is safest to eat it.  The mouse head is always carried in the cat’s mouth.
Mouser Buddy (9)
Buddy looks back to make sure nothing is following him and trying to steal his kill.
Mouser Buddy (11)
Once he reaches a place for eating, Buddy will drop his mouse.
Mouser Buddy (12)
Did the mouse bite Buddy in the mouth?
During the entire mouse catching and eating time on this summer evening, Buddy made the same painful looking grimace three different times. I never knew this happened to him while eating a mouse. I am wondering if the mouse, whose head was in Buddy's mouth, was able to bite Buddy defensively, causing Buddy to drop the mouse. Cats always carry the head in their mouth to protect themselves from bites on their face, chest and legs. A mouse carried with its head free would bite any part of the cat it could reach.
Mouser Buddy (22)
Immediately after dropping the mouse (after the grimace),
Buddy would play with the mouse.
After each painful grimace and dropping of the mouse to the ground, Buddy would play with the mouse's body. This is the part of cat behavior that humans frequently call "cruel." I myself have described this playing with mice as cruel. But perhaps it is a reaction to the mouse's defensive behavior in the cat's mouth.
Mouser Buddy (24)
Playing with the mouse.
Mouser Buddy (32)
Buddy finally, after three attempts, settles down and eats the mouse.
Buddy did eat the mouse after the third grimace-dropping-playing sequence with the mouse. My theory that cats play with their prey in reaction to defensive mouse behavior is untested. I need to observe all my cats when they hunt. That, as we know, is difficult. But the summers are blessedly long and I look forward to the observations. You can view the entire mouse kill in my Flickr set "Buddy Catches a Mouse."

The Invasive Drowning Earthworm

The worm was drowning in the brook after the flood. We pulled him out and he crawled away.
The earthworm in the flood-swollen brook.

The day after the flash flood, John and I walked around the fields and brooks to view the damage. We came upon this earthworm drowning in the brook. John picked it up and put it in the nearby mud, where it quickly crawled away (see photo below).

After we had done our good deed, we got to talking about worms and remembered the new research that says that worms are invasive to North American forests. They were introduced here from Asia and Europe. In the forests where they live, they eat the forest floor that is created by falling leaves and trees. "In forests of the glaciated Northeast, earthworms are now considered an invasive pest. " (source: Darwin Only Knew Half the Story on Earthworms by Kent McFarland. April 22, 2010, Northern Woodlands Magazine. There were exactly no earthworms here 12,000 years ago. Now there are at least 15 Asian and European species of worms here. McFarland writes, "What’s happening is that worms are eating fallen leaves that otherwise would turn into the spongy, nutrient-rich layer of material known as “duff.” Native forest plants are sustained by this leaf litter as are a whole host of fungi, bacteria and other detritivores." I strongly suggest that you click the link above and read this article.

The worm was drowning in the brook after the flood. We pulled him out and he crawled away.
The rescued worm crawls away.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Larvae Match-up Part 5

European Skipper Butterfly
Thymelicus lineola

Larva (photo: bugguide.net)

Adult (photo: Summer 2007)

European Skipper butterflies (Thymelicus lineola) - 13

One-eyed Sphinx Moth
Smerinthus cerisyi

Larva (photo: bugguide.net)

Adult (photo: May 2010)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth

Splendid Palpita Moth
Palpita magniferalis

Larva (photo: bugguide.net)

Adult (photo: May 2010)

Splendid palpita moth (Palpita magniferalis)

Hobomok Skipper Butterfly
Poanes hobomok

Larva (photo: bugguide.net)

Adult (photo: this past summer)

Hobomok Skipper

Question Mark Butterfly
Polygonia interrogationis

Larva (photo: bugguide.net)

Adult (photo: this past summer)

Question Mark Butterfly (45)

Virginia Tiger Moth
Spilosoma virginica

Larva: Yellow woolly bear caterpillar (photo: this past summer)

Yellow woolly bear caterpillar

Adult (photo: bugguide.net)

Rosy Maple Moth
Dryocampa rubicunda

Larva (photo: bugguide.net)

Adult (photo: July 2007)

Rosy Maple Moth - 18

That is all for now!
No more species left at this time!


Friday, November 19, 2010

LOL Cat Bible: Lectionary Readings for Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jeremiah 23:1-6
Luke 1:68-79
Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 46
Colossians 1:11-20
Luke 23:33-43

Jeremiah 23:1-6


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Luke 1:68-79

Zechariah's Song

67 Hovr Cat wuz in Zechariah, makin him tell teh fyoochr.
68 "Good for u Ceiling Cat, u maed thingz bettr for Israel.
69 U pickted up a trumpit for us.
70 Liek teh profetz sed u wud.
71 U protectided us from all teh bulliez.
72 U wuz niec to our daddiz an remembrd dey hadded a deel wif u.
73 Teh deal u maded wif Abraham,
74 to protect us, n let us work for u wifout fear
75 n be good all our lievz.
76 Mai kittn, peeplz wil call u Ceiling Cat's profet
becz us wil get evrithin reddi for him,
77 so dat peeplz Invisible Errors will be forgivn,
78 bcz Ceiling Cat iz niec, liek teh sun
79 dat shienz an liets teh wai."

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Psalm 46

A Mightee Hidey Place is Our Ceiling Cat

1 Ceiling Cat iz our hidey place and our strenf, he iz dere for all timez we sez, "hlep!"
2 We iz not teh skered, even if the Urf eated itself and mountinz fallz down into oshun
3 Even if waterz go RAWR and mountains go RAWR
4 Dere is river wif streamz that make Ceiling Cat's citee pleased, is holy place where only holyist can sit and lick harblz.
5 Ceiling Cat iz inside her, she is not fall down. Ceiling Cat wakez her up with gentul pawslap to faec.
6 Nationz iz angry, kingdoms fallz, Ceiling Cat meowz loud and Urf turnz to smoosh liek wet fud.
7 CEILING CAT IS WIF US, the Cat of Jakob is our hidey place.
8 Come and seez the wurks of the CEILING CAT, the mightee scratchez he haz maded on the Urf.
9 He makez warz stop to the endz of da Urf; he breakz the claws and shatterz the teef, he burninates the kitty carriers wif fire.
10 "Make quietz, and seez I am Ceiling Cat; I am bestest in ur cuntrees, everyone is want wurship me on Urf."
11 Celing Cat Almightee is wif us; the Cat of Jakob is our hidey place.

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Colossians 1:11-20

11 b'ing stronged wif all da base laik he wanz so'z u may haz loong napz 'n pacient wait 4 cheezbrgr, 'n hapi
12 givin' thanx to da Dadz whu maik u valid 4 inheritunz ov All Saints 'n deir tunez. (r'ly! wan sentincz!)
13 4 He iz da wan who savez uz fron lotz ov darkniss (4 He is Cat and seez) 'n gived us dem ginkdom ov theez Son he <3 luvz <3,
14 whom wif we haz redempschun, da forgez ov sinz.

The Supremacy of Christ
15 'e is de imigz ov da invisibl Ceiling Cat, da furst cat ovr dem rest.
16 4 he maded all stufz: stufz in da hoodz ov da Ceiling Cat 'n stufz on dis planit, visibl an' invisibl, if they iz seatz ov base or bossmen or bossmen ov bossmen, he maded dem 4 himselfz!
17 He iz wat iz befor all stufz, and he maik all stufz b.
18 He iz da 'ead ov da body, da churchz!: he is da begining and teh furst cat from da zombicatz, so whatevir iz he iz bossman!
19 4 de Ceiling Cat was hapi to haf everithin in 'im,
20 'n be also da settlimnt-maker ov all playces, even if iz in da hoodz ov da Ceiling Cat or on dis planit, so he go to da X and bleedz.

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Luke 23:33-43

23 But evribodi wuz all "CROSS NOW"
24 so Pilate sed "k."
25 He let teh othr d00d go an gaev Jesus to teh pplz.

Teh Cross
26 Whiel dey wuz draggin him awai dey seed Simon from Cyrene an maed him carri teh cross.
27 Lotz of peepl wuz dere, includin sum ladiez who wuz cryin.
28 Jesus wuz liek "U shudnt crai for me. U shud crai for urselvz an ur kittnz.
29 Bcz teh tiem wil com when u wil wish u nevr hadded eni kittnz at all.
30 Den " 'u will be liek Mountinz, fall on us!"
an hillz, covr us!" '
31 If peepl do dis when there is cheezeburger, what thei do when thei can no has cheezeburger?"
32 Two othr d00dz wuz dere to be eksekutid. Dey wuz criminalz k.33 Dey caem to dis plaec called teh Skull (rock!) an crucified Jesus betwin teh criminalz.

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