Archive for the ‘Critters’ Category

Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. We’ve had some crazy weather this winter. Our snow total so far this year is about a third of normal snow fall for the season and our temperatures have been above normal. This past Sunday our high temperature reached 55°F (about 13°C) and the flowers on our witch hazel burst into bloom.

2123 - Honeybee flying to Witch-Hazel - lr


Along with the beautifully fragrant flowers came the honey bees.

2133 - Honeybee on Witch-Hazel - lr

Look at those packed saddle bags.

Here is a little video clip I took of some of them in action. If you turn your volume up, you can hear the buzz from all the bees.

If you can’t see the video, you can go here to view it.

Those honey bees sure were working hard. It’s too bad somebody hasn’t invented smell-o-vision so I could share the beautiful scent of the witch hazel with all of you.

2160 - Honeybee on Witch-Hazel - lr

I enjoyed watching the bees do their work and hoped they all made it back to the hive before it got too cold.

2173 - Honeybee on Witch-Hazel - lr

The weather has turned much colder and just a couple of days ago we had an ice storm that left over a quarter of an inch of ice covering everything including those beautiful witch hazel blossoms.


We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.


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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. The last time I showed you some of Charlie’s macro pictures with insects on them so this time it will be macro pictures of just dahlias. So sit back, grab a cup of your favorite drink and enjoy the show.

Crimson and yellow dahlia 9-19-21 - lr

Dahlia Webster Arb 10-7-21-2 - lr

Dahlia Webster Arb 10-7-21-4 - lr

Dahlia Webster Arb 10-7-21-5 - lr

Dahlia Webster Arb 10-7-21-6 - lr

Dahlia Webster Arb 10-7-21-7 - lr

Red dahlia 9-25-21 - lr

Yellow and pink dahlia 9-25-21 - lr

Finally here is one last one with a honey bee on a daisy.

Daisy with honeybee 10-14-21-2 - lr

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the beautiful dahlias Charlie photographed with his macro lens. I’m sure the garden at the arboretum will be put to bed soon so we will have to look forward to seeing these beautiful flowers again next year.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. Recently Charlie picked up a new macro lens and has been having fun learning how to use it. The main use for a macro lens is to take extreme close ups of your subject. As a reminder you can click on all the pictures to see a much bigger version.

Bumblebee on red dahlia 9-19-21 - lr

Bumblebee on Red Dahlia

There is a very nice arboretum near us that has some dahlias so Charlie has taken a few trips there when the weather was nice and calm. In order to get sharp pictures there can’t be much movement in the subject. This bumblebee was still waking up from spending the night on this dahlia.

Dahlia Webster Arb 10-7-21-10 - lr

Can you find the hidden bugs on this dahlia?
(clicking on the image to make it bigger will help)

Sometimes the bugs are so small you don’t even see them when you are taking the picture as is the case with the picture above. Here is a hint there is a super tiny bug just left of center and a slightly larger one right of center hiding below the petals.

Hoverfly on potentilla flower 9-23-21 - lr

Hoverfly on Potentilla flower

Right in our own back yard one of Charlie’s favorite subjects has been bugs on the potentilla flowers. Just for reference these flowers are only about 3/4 of an inch (2 cm) in diameter.

Now I think I have to warn anyone that doesn’t like spiders much that the next few pictures might just creep you out a bit.

Crab spider on potentilla flower 9-18-21 - lr

Crab spider on Potentilla flower

The crab spiders like to hide in plants and flowers and ambush their prey. 

Crab spider on potentilla 10-5-21 - lr

Crab spider on Potentilla plant

These small spiders blend into their surroundings very well. One thing that is amazing about these pictures is that to the naked eye you cannot see the tiny hairs all over this little guy.

Crab spider with prey stack 10-6-21 - lr

Crab spider with prey

The crab spider above has captured another spider that is even smaller than it. This last picture was created using a technique called “focus stacking“. There were multiple images taken very quickly at different focal points (the camera does this automatically when you set it up). Then the images are combined to create one image where more of the subject is in focus than would be with just one image.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the creepy little things Charlie has found with his macro lens. It’s amazing to look at these creatures almost as if you had them under a microscope.

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Hi everyone! It’s Walter here. Last time I posted for Nature Friday I showed you some of our butterflies. Today it’s all about the bees!

7357 - Walter - as a Bee - lr

Let’s see what’s buzzing around the yard.

Our dad was taking pictures of the bees for us.

7335 - Millie Walter - Charlie photographing flowers - lr

Are you sure you have the right f-stop dad?
Millie, you have to be wearing bee camouflage to get this close!

That sister of mine almost scared away the bees!

Bumblebee on sedum 9-2-21 - lr

Bumblebee on Sedum

7338 - Walter - Charlie photographing flowers - lr

The bees feel safer now that Millie is gone.

Bumblebee on sedum2 9-2-21 - lr

Another Bumblebee on the Sedum

There still is quite a few flowers in bloom in our yard and the pollinators just love it.

Bumblebee on turtle head flower 9-2-21 - lr

Bumblebee on Turtle Head

Carpenter bee on caryopteris 9-2-21 - lr

Carpenter bee on Caryopteris

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

7373 - Walter - as a Bee - lr

Thanks for buzzing around the yard with me today.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the bees we have visiting our yard right now.

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Hi everyone! It’s Walter here. Last week Millie showed you all some of the snakes we have in our yard and today I want to show you some of the beautiful butterflies we have.

6813 - Walter laying in grass - lr

I love watching all the butterflies in our perennial garden.

Our perennial garden is a butterfly paradise. We have all shapes and sizes. First lets look at one of the smallest.

Silver spotted skipper on clematis flower 8-4-21 - lr

Silver Spotted Skipper on Clematis

The next largest is the cabbage butterfly. On any given day we can have at least a dozen of them flitting from one flower to the next.

Cabbage butterfly on lythrum 7-16-21 - lr

Cabbage Butterfly on Lythrum

The Painted Lady is slightly larger than the Cabbage butterfly and this one had some company while it worked on one of our cone flowers.

Painted lady and skiippers on coneflower 8-3-21 - lr

Painted Lady butterfly and Zabulon skippers on Pink Coneflower

Those skippers are actually smaller than the silver spotted skipper I showed you first. It was nice of the painted lady to share the coneflower with them.

Last but not least is our largest butterfly appropriately named the Giant Swallowtail.

Giant swallowtail on agastache 7-25-21 - lr

Giant Swallowtail on Agastache

The Giant Swallowtail looks very different on the top than it does on the underside. You get a good look at what the top side looks like in the above picture. The back lighting lets the top kind of shine through. They are mostly black with lines of yellow on top while the underside has a yellow background with a multicolored pattern like you see in the picture below.

Giant swallowtail on clematis 8-19-21 - lr

Giant Swallowtail on Clematis

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the butterflies we have visiting our yard this year. Next week we might show you some different ones so stay tuned.

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Hi everyone! It’s Millie here. Today I want to introduce you to some of our slithering friends around our yard.

Millie on the patio 7-19-21 - lr

My best imitation of a snake

It’s been too hot to spend much time outside lately but we enjoy watching our garter snake friends when we can. I like to try to sniff them but mom always calls me off before they can strike at my nose. Don’t worry they are basically harmless and probably wouldn’t even connect if they tried to strike me.

6686 - 2 Snakes on ground - lr

A couple of different colored garter snakes.

We’re lucky to live in an area where there are no poisonous snakes.

6691 - Colorful Snake on ground - lr

This snake has beautiful markings

Our snakes spend the night under the upper (raised) portion of our patio. In the morning they make there way out. Sometimes we can see them just sticking their heads out of a crack under the steps.

6743 - Snake coming out at down spout - lr

This snake always comes out near the down spout.

The same snake that you see above always comes out near the down spout and makes its way across the lower patio to some vegetation to hang out for the day. Here is a video that shows the snake making its way.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

6752 - Snake moving under door - lr

Always watch your step going in our out of the garage.

Here is a wide view of the snake’s path.

7271 - Patio where snake moves from drain - annotated

(Click on the image to make it bigger)

Occasionally the snake will hang out under the bench in the above picture.

Backyard garter snake 7-16-21 - lr

All curled up under the bench

Backyard garter snake 7-19-21 - lr

Maybe I should save this picture for Selfie Sunday.

These snakes do a great job of keeping small pests away from the house. They like to eat slugs which is great for the hosta on the patio. I hope you enjoyed seeing some of our snakes today.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. Lately my Nature Friday posts have been all about the birds and this weeks is no exception. Don’t worry, Millie and Walter are doing well and will be back soon.

Charlie has been working hard in his wood shop this winter to get some new feeders ready for the return of our feathered friends this spring. The first thing he did was work on a new suet feeder.

Tufted Titmouse clings to the side of the old suet feeder

The previous suet feeder, seen above, was just a suet cage attached to a piece of wood and hung from a crook. The feeder was getting old and cracked and needed an upgrade. One thing we wanted to do was cut down on some of the “bully” birds that were able to access this feeder. The new suet feeder now has four sides so only birds that can cling to the bottom such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, tufted titmice and chickadees can use it. Other birds like starlings and grackles aren’t able to hang upside down and won’t be able to use it.

Upside down suet feeder

Since the crook was still in the ground we were able to hang this feeder right away. At first the birds seemed a bit hesitant to use it even though it’s in the same place as the previous one was but after a few days the realized that it contained the same suet they all love. The good thing is that the birds that can’t hang upside down, like cardinals and sparrows,  still get to benefit by hanging out under the feeder to pick up whatever is dropped.

A trio of new feeders – (left to right)
Platform Mealworm Feeder, Double Suet Feeder, Gilbertson Style Mealworm Feeder

Charlie also made a double sized suet feeder. You can see it in the middle above.

Underneath the double suet feeder

This feeder holds two suet cakes at a time and also has sides to prevent the non-clinging birds from being able to use it. The hope is that we will finally be able to attract a Pileated Woodpecker to our feeder. We have seen pileated woodpeckers around our yard but they are too big to use the smaller feeder.

Chickadee on Mealworm Feeder

The other two feeders that Charlie made are mealworm feeders. Our old platform mealworm feeder (above) was about 10 years old and needed to be replaced. The main difference with the new feeder is that now it will be attached to a 1¼” conduit with a strap instead of the wooden bracket you see on the old feeder.

Bottom of Platform Mealworm Feeder

The holes you see are for drainage and don’t really allow the mealworms to fall out. That happens well enough when a blue jay lands in it an starts flinging the mealworms around.

The other mealworm feeder Charlie made is a Gilbertson Style Mealworm Feeder.

Gilbertson Style Mealworm Feeder

Charlie’s version doesn’t follow the plan exactly. His is slightly larger with smaller posts in the corners to allow more room in the interior areas and he uses the same mounting method as the platform feeder above. As you can see this feeder has a cup inside where the mealworms will be placed. It also has metal rods running between the posts on all four sides. This prevents larger birds like starlings, mockingbirds, robins and blue jays from entering while allowing the smaller bluebirds, wrens, chickadees and tufted titmouse access.

How to access feed cup

In order to access the cup for refilling you are able to remove one of the metal rods. On the right, in the first picture of this feeder, you can see that one of the metal rods is bent with a small stop block keeping it in place. When it’s time to refill the feeder you just unlatch the rod and slide it out so you can reach in to remove the cup, which in this case is just a ½ cup measure with the handle cut off.

Once the ground thaws out (in a couple of months) we will be able to put up a new crook for the double suet feeder and put the conduit in the ground and mount our new mealworm feeders to them. The mealworm feeders will also be fitted with squirrel baffles to keep those pesky chipmunks and squirrels from pigging out on mealworms. In case you were wondering we feed dried mealworms which I buy in bulk from Critter Boutique. That is not an affiliate link. I am providing it since I think they have the best price for bulk dried mealworms in case you want to try using them. The suet feeders don’t need squirrel baffles since I only feed C & S Hot Pepper Delight Suet cakes. The birds don’t mind the hot pepper but the squirrels and chipmunks sure don’t like it and never try it twice.

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Hi everyone! It’s Millie & Walter here. Sometimes we let our parents leave home without us to take pictures.

Here is a great picture of us.
We don’t know why our parents want to take pictures of anything else.

Mom and dad went to one of their favorite spots for photography recently and dad got these shots.

Autumn Color Reflection

These pictures are so cool. They look like an impressionist painting.

These trees are just starting to turn color

You may be wondering how does our dad get these pictures. Keep scrolling and we will reveal his secret.

Fall Trees Reflection

Here is one last picture before we show you how it’s done.

Reflection of a Girl Reading With Her Dog

All of the pictures above were taken of just the reflection of the subject in the water. When our dad processes them he flips them so they look like they are right side up. Here is that same scene from above shown the right way up.

Here is the picture taken normally.

If you look closely (or click on the image to make it bigger) you can see that the young woman was hanging out on the bench with her dog reading a book. What a wonderful way to soak up nature with your best friend along.

We hope you enjoyed a look at some of our dad’s cool reflection pictures this week.

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