Sunrise on the Maumee

Sunrise on the Maumee

Friday, August 31, 2012

Still Life

     The buckeye nuts have started to drop.  They are a beautiful, rich chestnut color when they first come out of their husk.  They are also satiny smooth and irresistible to rub and hold.  It takes only a day or so for them to begin to turn dark and dull and dry.  

     I suppose they are named for the resemblance to deer eyes.  I've never noticed a difference between the eyes of male and female deer, so I wonder why they are not called "deer eye" or "doe eyes"?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sleeping Giant?

     You can tell this bumble bee is sleeping because he is on the leaf, not the flower (and on the underside, at that).  
     Bumble bees are one of the few insects you could see being made as a stuffed animal.  They are cute and furry, and normally mind their own business, collecting pollen and nectar.
     A few weeks ago, however, I was accosted by one.  On my way down the hill, I paused to pull some weeds from the rock 'garden' (more of a weed garden, really).  A bumble bee landed on my garden glove.  I shooed it away, but it repeatedly landed on me.  Finally, I realized it was trying to sting me, but the stinger couldn't reach my skin through the loose clothing.  I decided to take refuge in the house (before it figured out where my head was), where I did a little research into what I thought was bizarre behavior.  
     Bumble bees make nests in the ground and commonly take over abandoned chipmunk holes - which are abundant in the rock garden.  I must have inadvertently threatened the nest.  In addition to physically threatening them, this is the only other time they will try to sting.  Unlike honey bees, they are able to sting repeatedly.
     Looks like I have a good excuse for having a weedy rock garden.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Joe Pye Weed

     "There are two versions of how the joe-pye weed got its name. The most common one traces it to a 18th Century Native American medicine man named Joe Pye, who traveled the length of New England treating fevers — typhoid fever in particular — with an infusion made from the plant’s leaves. The other story asserts that joe-pye is a corruption of the Native American word for typhoid, jopi". (From The Field Notebook:

     Joe Pye Weed prefers more moisture than my garden normally provides, so I have "cheated" a bit by placing it next to my neighbors sprinkling system (located on the other side of the fence).  This is the third location I have tried with this particular plant, and it seems to be happy.  It is about 4 feet tall here.  It can grow several feet taller in the wild.

It is a great favorite with insects.  I'm awaiting an identification of this beautiful beetle from  

More on the bumblebee to follow!

Monday, August 13, 2012


     Five or six years ago, our next door neighbors put in a dock.  I was not happy about it at the time because it shattered my illusion of living in the wilderness.  

     It didn't take long for waterfowl to move in.  Mallards come and go, enjoying both the shelter underneath and the dry surface above.  This year we have had three bachelor Mallards since spring.

One or two Great Blue Herons are there almost every morning.

The river is shallow enough on our side for water plants to grow, so I suspect many of these birds have always been there foraging and fishing behind the foliage, just out of view.  The dock has made it easier for us to see them from our hillside perch.

I now look forward to it's arrival each spring. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012


     It's that time of year again - Cicadas are flying and Hudson is crunching.  He has plenty of competition, though.  
     I am not especially fond of House Sparrows (mostly because they eat my house and nest under my roof tiles), but it is really quite amazing to see them chase and capture a Cicada.
     Cicada Killer Wasps take their share of Cicadas as well.  Yesterday, while monitoring, we saw a veritable colony on the Girdham Road Dunes at Oak Openings Metropark.  Above is a female with a paralyzed Cicada (upside down, under her) trying to decide where she left the entrance to her nest.  She will lay her eggs in the Cicada, which will provide food.

     It was impressive to see how much dirt these large wasps can remove.  The entrance to the holes are up to two inches in diameter and the excavated sand trails off eight to ten inches.  
     I have never seen so many at the dunes.  There must have been over 100 nests.  Perhaps the dry summer has made the dunes especially tempting. 
     The males have no stinger and the females were seemingly oblivious to our traipsing around.

Flowering Spurge - one of my favorite natives

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eight Spotted Forester

     Google this name and you will find I am one of many bloggers who felt this moth merited a post.  In addition to it's striking appearance, it is an example of the fuzzy line between butterflies and moths because it feeds during the daytime.  I love the orange socks on the fore-legs. 
The caterpillar of this species feeds on grape plants and Virginia creeper. 
This adult was visiting my lavender.