When we show our respect for the other living things, they respond with respect for us.----Arapaho Proverb

Monday, August 30, 2010


Throughout the warmer weather, moths congregate outside my kitchen door, attracted by the porch light. (It stays on all night for my geese, who don't see very well in the dark and become frightened without it). Being an early riser, I am fortunate to be able to photograph many of these moths while they rest after a long night of fluttering around the bulb.  Most mornings I am dazzled by at least one or two of these beautiful and very diversified little creatures that are either new to me or merely stand out from the more commonplace
ones. Over time,  I have compiled quite a library of pictures of them. And today, I would like to share SOME of them with you. This WILL be my most lengthy post yet, so you just might want to grab a cuppa and settle down when you have the time to really enjoy these amazing fellows.

It has been my personal observation that moths fall into various categories.  There are those that resemble tiny aircraft so closely that I have to wonder if NASA has also been checking them out and incorporating them into their own designs.

See what I mean?  Doesn't that last one look like something out of Star Wars?  And then there are those moths that look plain and rather uninteresting with their wings closed.......

....only to open up to reveal some very lovely color and texture combos underneath! Yes it IS the same moth!

This next guy shows just a hint of what he might be hiding under his outer wings, but he became annoyed with me trying to get him to spread them open for me and took off. Darn!

Some moths are masters of deception which serves them very well.  If you look unappetizing, no one is going to bother with you.  Hence, if you resemble bird poop, its a pretty good bet that predators will pass you up for something much more palatable looking.

There are moths that resemble dead leaves as THEIR camouflage.

Now I ask you, who would want to eat dead leaves for lunch?  Works for me!  When a predator thinks that its prey is looking at him, it doesn't pay to expend the energy to try to make a meal of it, so many times it will be passed by in place of some other tasty morsel he can catch off guard.  So here's looking at you!

This one has not only eyes but a full face.Can you make it out? (HINT: the eyes are about half way down
the wings).

And I've got to wonder how many predators would even attempt to tackle THIS fellow with his prehistoric looking armor plated feet?  Looks like a tough guy to me!

I've saved some of the most beautiful ones for last.  They need no introduction.  So just enjoy!

This one reminds me of mother of pearl.  Can you make out all the pinks and lavenders?

Well, I do hope you have enjoyed seeing some of my moth pictures.  Just about every day I get some more, so we will have to do this again some other time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Although we only own 8 acres of land ourselves, we have the good fortune of having open space all around us. Across the street, in front of the house, are 25 acres worked by a local farmer who grows feed corn and soybeans.  And both behind us and off to the side are 250 acres of woods and meadows.  A most pleasant place to spend a few minutes or a few hours in peace and solitude.  I never know what marvelous discoveries I will make on one of my walks, but there is ALWAYS so much to delight me.

And so I would like to invite you to kick back, put your feet up, and come with me for a virtual walk in the woods.  Welcome to one of my favorite playgrounds.

It's such a lovely place. There is beauty here no matter which way you turn!

Or which direction you happen to look in!

I find such interesting things along the way, too.  Like this piece of tree root  that looks like a turkey foot. This little treasure came home with me.  It now resides on the screen porch.

In the woods, the unusual abounds.  Have you ever seen a tree complete with antlers before?

I came upon a large fallen tree that was hollowed out so perfectly it was almost a ready made dugout canoe! It's difficult to see the size of it in these photos, but it was quite big.  I could easily  imagine 3 or 4 petite native men taking it for a ride down the river, like a scene from a National Geographic documentary..

There are plenty of tiny delights to be discovered as well!  Like this nibbled mushroom.  I wonder who it was that dined upon it so daintily!

As a matter of fact, there are some pretty amazing varieties of fungi in these woods.  


And one day I will share with you some pictures of exotic mushrooms and other fungi I have seen over the years.  But for now I will 'leave' you with this one last photo. I hope you enjoyed this little virtual walk in the woods.


Monday, August 16, 2010


What an absolutely delightful season it has been here on my own little nature preserve.  Even though the weather has been very difficult, what with super high temperatures and humidity most of the time, still all of the natural world has thrived as usual.  We have been privileged to host so many of our wild neighbors and their offspring. And each one has been a joy, each in their own special way. 

It always amazes me how trusting the animals become over the course of time.  The deer no longer back off and hide when we fill the corn pan or do ANY other chores around the property for that matter.  I have been close enough to reach out and touch them on many occasions but would never want to abuse their trust.  And where once the mother deer were very protective of their fawns when we appeared,  now they merely glance up and go back to munching away. I am happy to report they continue to be regulars here, noshing on the cracked corn, goose feed and bountiful crab apples from the tree off  the kitchen porch.  The various water containers and large kiddie wading pool have made it a little easier for ALL the animals to find water during the intense heat and dryness of this Summer too.

One of my favorite pastimes is to watch all the wild turkey heads bobbing up and down comically in the tall grasses, heading for the bird seeds beneath the feeder and more recently, actually eating out of the large cracked corn pan that once intimidated them so.  Many a mealtime have we shared with these beautiful birds eating right on the other side of the screen, as we also sat enjoying our meal.  Some of them will even talk back to me as I imitate their feeding call.  It's as if I am a part of the flock.  Now what kind of honor is that?  I have been gifted with many of their feathers throughout the season, both large ones and small, strewn about the back 'yard' from their vigorous preening sessions. They now stand in a place of honor in a vase in the library, a tribute to the months we have spent most pleasantly in each others company.

Since the bear incident, when he ripped the sunflower feeder out of the ground to better reach all the goodies inside, our resident raccoon family has only made occasional visits to the goose feeder.  I AM glad that they remember how to survive without it! Together with the two fox kits harassing them, I can understand how that big old bear must have been the last straw for mom. I am happy to report there are still four young ones and mom, so the little family is still intact, with no casualties.  And yet, even though they were literally eating us out of house and home, I do miss them.  They were most entertaining and the little chortling sounds they made filled my heart with joy!!

The wild birds and all their offspring have positively exploded at the feeders!  At times all the chatter is deafening!  Fights are always breaking out over space at the feeders and suet.  We have been 'blessed' (and I use the term loosely) with SO MANY blue jays this year that all the various woodpeckers are finding it hard to get a turn at the suet cake.  But they all go through an entire cake a day ($$), so they will just have to sort it out amongst themselves, and make due. I love to see the immature males of all the various species as they are starting to come into their adult plumage.  How comical they look, like little Frankensteins, with their mismatched parts and blotchy coloring. 

The chipmunks are busy storing away seeds for the Winter.  Sometimes we watch them pouch up so full we wonder how they can walk away under the load let alone make it down their burrow holes!  They are so adorable!  AND rather fearless too, as they are SO SMALL compared to the turkeys that loom above them, or even their much bigger relations, the squirrels!  And yet they stand there underneath these giants; most amazing!!!  You would think they would be afraid of being trampled underfoot if nothing else!

And all the bunnies are busy being bunnies.  They are having a very prolific season!  There are usually a few about out back taking dust baths and cooling their bellies in the shady spots.  It's so funny the way they just jump and flop, flattening themselves like little bunny pancakes!  It makes us crack up every single time!!

We still hear coyotes off in the distance every now and then, but luckily they haven't ventured close enough to make a meal out of any of my geese!  I do love to hear them howling away in the darkness though!  Such a wild and haunting sound!  If they continue to keep their distance, all will be well!

Two baby skunks have suddenly appeared out of nowhere, noshing bird seed under the feeder.  They sent us scurrying inside one night, marching right up to the feeder to eat while we sat just a few feet away enjoying a fire and toasting giant marshmallows.  Even though they didn't seem to mind us in the very least, those little tails were at half mast menacingly, and we were just too nervous, starring up those tails waiting for them to fire away.  And I am not at all certain they have developed discrimination yet at their early age!  I was reminded of the two little ones a few years back that met under the same feeder every night, and sat noshing back to back with their tails held up high, as if each daring the other to make a wrong move. It was quite hysterical!!! But neither Frank nor I had any intention of tempting fate that night and WE left with OUR TAILS between our legs!

So, as you can readily see, all is well here on my very own little nature preserve.  And as this season slowly continues to wind down, I am reminded to savor every moment among these my special friends and neighbors, before all the young ones begin to disperse, each to seek his/her own territory and begin life as an adult.