Some Are More Welcome Than Others

At present, we have two folks of the buzzing kind to observe.

Living in the woods means living with wildlife.  Some critters are more welcome than others, naturally, primarily because some are more dangerous to us than others.  At present, we have two folks of the buzzing kind living on the premises:

A folk of honey bees, and…

bee folk moving in featured2

… a bald-faced hornet‘s nest in the make.  Surely you can imagine which of the two we prefer, but then again, they all have their place and purpose in the large scope of things.

hornets building

Here’s to bees and such!

bee folk moving in featured




Good luck to you, bees!

In the middle of happy gardening yesterday morning, there arose a humming and buzzing that made us look up in surprise.  Lo and behold!, the air was full of bees.  Bees, bees, and more bees buzzing around and around over the yard, without any apparent aim or order.  So we all stood and watched, glad that they were busy buzzing a couple of feet over our heads, and not further down.

Shortly thereafter, the buzzing grew faint.  But it did not take long to figure out what was happening:  About 70 feet off the ground, in the top branches of a tall maple tree, the bees had all gathered for a break.  There they hung, in a cluster of bees that bent the branch, with some of them still swarming around as if on guard while the majority of them was resting.

swarm insta

Not sure what they were up to, but we figured they were looking for a new home.  After about an hour and a half, they had disappeared.  I guess the real-estate agent they were waiting for had finally shown up to take them to their new domicile.

Good luck to you, bees!

Goofy and Majestic

Animals are so very interesting…

Animals are so very interesting.  Some are majestic, like the elk in the featured image.  Some act like your pooch at home: all tail-wagging curiosity.  But Mom and Dad are wolves, and so is their cub.

wolf cub

Some eye visitors with more suspicion, and can look positively creepy, as this eagle owl did.

eagle owl

And then there are some that are just plain ol’ goofy…


All pictures were taken at the local Deer Park.

Fun Time

Fun time at the local Deer Park

We happen to like the local Deer Park a lot.  So many pretty animals to feed (including deer! see featured), and pet, and ride, and have fun with!  Such a lot of great stuff to do!  So many happy faces!  So many pictures to take!

This is a domestic swan goose, native to eastern Eurasia, and sometimes called a Chinese goose.  It varies from wild type coloring (mostly gray with a dark line down the back of the otherwise white neck) to pure white.  This one was awfully forward.


And here we have a crested porcupine.  It’s a rodent, actually, but I doubt it can climb like its North American cousin.  We saw one of those as well, and climb it did!  No picture of the event, though, so you might doubt it actually happened.  😐

poky pig

Lastly another rodent: a prairie dog, a black-tailed one, I should think.  Cute critters!

prairy dog

But you better not run afoul of the park authorities!

steckbriefe feaured

More pictures to come as time allows.


Speedy Animals: Peregrine Falcon

The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal  ever!

The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal  ever with a top speed of 200mph!  It hunts by diving at high speed and striking its prey in midair.  The prey is thus stunned, or killed immediately.  Then the peregrine falcon carries it to the nest, or scrape, and eats it there.


And there is a peregrine falcon in the book “My Side of the Mountain” called Frightful.  The book was written by Jean Craighead George.  It’s a great book!

Young peregrine falcons, or eyasses, learn to hunt by pretending that one is the bird or bat and the other chases the other one. But they are very careful that they do not hurt each other.  They eat birds and bats.and live everywhere except in Antarctica.

Sometimes I think I see one in the sky.


Steve Jenkins: Speediest!  19 Very Fast Animals.  New York, NY 2018
Jean Craighead George: My Side of the Mountain. 1959; On the Far Side of the Mountain.  1990; Frightful’s Mountain. 1999.

June 2018

Summer approacheth.

It is the time when the roses are blossoming…  Not much sun these days, but they are beautiful anyway.  The blueberries are looking good, too.


I am sure this fat little fellow is eyeing the blueberries greedily already!  Shall see if we get some blueberries this yeas as well, or if he and his (large) family will eat them all before they are even ripe.



Hungry Visitors

It’s been snowing, so we get a chance to observe some local wildlife.

It’s been snowing, so we get a chance to observe some local wildlife.  I didn’t get a shot of the deer that strayed into the yard the other day, but around the bird feeders it is easier to document some of the more common visitors:


gold finch female

Red Cardinal

father cardinal2



Tufted Titmouse peeking

tufted titmouse peeking

And the sparrow that is also featured, here in all his puffed-up roundness.

sparrow hogger

Deserted Summer Homes

With the leaves gone, we spotted some deserted summer homes around the yard.

cardinal nest from dog hair

With the leaves gone, we spotted some deserted homes around the yard.

The construction on the left, material sponsored by our German Shepherd dog, served to raise baby cardinals earlier this year.  Now it sports a snow hat bigger than itself.

Featured you can see the summer abode of bald-faced hornets.  It is hanging from a tulip poplar branch about 25 ft off the ground, and looks quite battered by now.

The picture beneath shows what is supposed to be a nice condo for birds, but in fact, the chipmunks have used it as a store room for years now.  Maybe next spring we will clean out the thousands of acorn shells and make it available on the bird housing market again.

store room

Visitors in the Apple Tree

When have you last seen a European hornet (Vespa crabro) close up?

When have you last seen a European hornet (Vespa crabro) close up?

European hornet1

Vespa crabro is an introduced species here in the US, first reported in 1840 in New York, and the only true hornet around here:  The bald faced hornet is, in fact, a kind of yellow jacket.  A colony of European hornets will usually contain 300 or more workers, and they can forage at night, preying upon live insects as well as eating fruit.  In Germany, they are a protected species, so don’t kill one unless you have up to 50,000 Euro “auf der hohen Kante”.

At this time of year, Vespa crabro workers are thick around our apple tree in the back yard.  Beautiful insects, really, and they are 25-35mm long – that’s between 0.9 and 1.3 inches.  Quite the critter!  Thankfully, they are not aggressive, but you don’t want to step on one either.

European hornet2

There were a few yellow jackets flying around in the apple tree at the same time, but I couldn’t get a European hornet and a yellow jacket together on one picture.  Would have been nice for a size comparison, but alas!, man kann nicht alles haben.

Here is the best “mug shot” I could get:

European hornet face

See how they have hollowed out the apple?  There are three of them in the same apple at the same time.

European hornet3

Fairy Flies and Misty Sun

Wolly alder aphids they are called, but really, fairy flies is a much nicer name…

woolly aphids cropFeatured and left:  “Wooly aphids (family Aphididae, subfamily Eriosomatinae) are spectacular when sitting on twigs in large assemblages, and startling as individuals”, the Bug Lady writes at the Riveredge Nature Center Bug o’the Week, and right she is!  We have seen these little suckers out and about in the yard, particularly under the biggest maple around, dubbing them “fairy flies” because they look like little blue-ish white fairies when they are on the wing.  This colony we found in the woods behind the house, on an alder tree.  Truth be told, we think they look like tiny scorpions, but legs # 7 and 8 are just their feelers.  Lots more info to be found if you follow the link above.

misty sun featured2

Mist in the trees:  The woods are waving “Farewell Summer”…

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