Saturday, February 22, 2014


A warm and light-filled February afternoon (we usually get at least one a year) being thoroughly enjoyed by a Mourning Dove... Alas, I was stuck inside at work. (Perhaps a good thing; no reason to get my hopes up that spring is near. ;o) )

Friday, February 21, 2014

"What's the green one?"

A customer was looking out the window across the store, studying the bird feeders and talking to the sales manager about what they were seeing. "What's the green one?" Despite a species list of over 400, unless someone's pet parrot has escaped, southernmost New Jersey doesn't have many green birds. But there had been (at least) one hanging out nearby off and on this past winter. Could it have found the feeders here at work?

Yup. Painted Bunting, possibly a young male given the strong, saturated color and tinge of blue. (Unnoticeable in this shot, alas, but I'm happy that I was able to get this one-off.)

(Of course I Photoshopped-out the twig!)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Random Subject: Fungi.

Despite a good-intentioned resolution to do better at posting to this blog, you will notice a scarcity of recent material. Ah, well. Would have been nice to capture this Real Actual Winter in pixels, but it's been too durn cold to take the camera out... And for everyone buried in snow and ice and slush, lush photos of summer that never made it here at the time would be terribly unfair; cabin fever is running rampant enough.

Then the idea of posting pics of the fabulous mushrooms I encountered during the cool, wet spring we had last year (anything in 2013 can be called last year, yes?) bubbled to the top of my brain while my body was in its usual early-morning, semi-subconcious state...

So, shrooms:

This gorgeous thing had me just about jumping up and down with glee when I discovered it alongside one of the main roads through Belleplain State Forest. (And when I pulled over to check out the clump of orange I had spotted as I drove by, I found that there were more than just this one. That black circle is my camera's approximately 2" wide lens cap; these things were huge. The photos don't do them justice.)

"Small" one.

A little mushroom alongside the stairs to work... Love the way the cap split.

Wee itty bitty teensie tiny mushrooms right in the path
at Eldora Preserve, The Nature Conservancy.

More from along the main path at the Eldora Preserve:

 Waiting for a fairie to arrive!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Serendipity is...

Glancing out the window at work while in the middle of a discussion about bird feeding and seeing this:

The less dramatic but non-seasickness-inducing version:

I have seen far more dead River Otter in Cape May County than live otter. The peninsula isn't, or wasn't, ever truly solid ground; many creeks crossed and criss-crossed the land and in some places they still do. Unfortunately, highways now cross the creeks, and otter are only one of the many victims.

So when I looked out the window and saw a live otter, I perhaps screamed a bit. Not too loudly (I'm trying). I knew this oversized pond had otter although this isn't where I had my one live sighting. But to learn the lake also had American Eel was icing on the cake. (A frantic rush to Wikipedia jogged loose what I had learned a long time ago about eels: I knew that for some part of their life cycle they lived in fresh water and headed out to sea the other half but I couldn't remember which way they went. Adults in fresh; spawn in salt. Catadromous, if you wish to get technical about it.)

We used to occasionally catch small eels in our minnow trap off our dock in Avalon, about a foot long and maybe half an inch in diameter and I remember my great uncle used to catch and eat (blech!) much larger ones. I watched a Double-crested Cormorant swallow an eel about the size of this one (couple of feet and inches around) just a year or so ago, but those eels were all in the brackish tidal zone of the back bay salt marshes, not an apparently land-locked little city lake... Wow.

Apologies for the shaking video (iMovie actually was able to stabilize it a bit) and grainy photos (which I had to screen-capture).