Grass with Dew

BEE a Naturalist

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Anyone can be a naturalist, a person who likes to learn about the natural world. Join author P.K. Butler here for nature photos and links to informational web sites that will start you on a wondrous journey of discovery.

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September 9, 2022

Monarch Caterpillars on My Milkweed Plants

For years, I've been trying to grow milkweed plants to help the Monarch Butterfly, whose population has declined by 80% due to the use of pesticides and other cultural practices that ignore the habitat necessary to support helpful and beautiful insects. 

Can you imagine my surprise when just yesterday, I discovered four Monarch caterpillars on as many plants! 

Having never "hosted" these caterpillars, I was confused by everything I saw, including what looked like "poop" lying on the leaves. I quickly dusted this off for the sake of hygiene and thereafter learned on the web that this is exactly what I should do. I'm totally new to this practice and so am learning as I go. These caterpillars are 'late' in the season as Monarchs begin their migration south in October.

Though I'm not formally raising Monarchs, learn about Monarchs with me on this web site (and many others I'm sure!)

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https://aercmn.com/the-dos-and-donts-of-raising-monarch-caterpillars/

If any of these caterpillars survive to transform into a butterflies, this is what they'll look like.

August 16, 2022

Caught in the Act!

Remember my last post where I posed the question, "Who planted the sunflowers?" The answer then was "seed-eating birds." In case you didn't know, the American Goldfish is just such a seed-eating bird. And here we see him with seed in bill harvesting his crop! But he's not the only one. Below you'll find two Northern Cardinals join him. And let me warn you, the male cardinal is almost a scary sight! Wonder what's "wrong" with him? Read on . . . 

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The quick answer is . . . nothing is "wrong" with the mottled-looking bright red male cardinal on the right (a female with dusty grayish red plumage sits to his left). The male is merely molting, that is, losing his old feathers to grow in new ones. A bird's feathers must be regularly replaced as the wear and tear of flying damage them. And the summer months, after the busy nesting season of spring, is the ideal time to exchange those unsightly old feathers for fresh new ones.

July 20, 2022

A Mystery Question: Who Planted the Sunflowers?

Here's a photo of my backyard with two rows of sunflowers, favorites of seed-eating birds. The strange thing is . . . I didn't plant them! Wonder who did? Here's a hint: Year round I feed black oil sunflower seeds to the birds who visit my yard. And as a 'thank you' to me, these same birds  planted the flowers you see here. How? Well, I had prepared these rows for a vegetable garden, but birds flying over dropped some of their seeds or their "droppings" contained undigested seeds. These seeds then sprouted in the spring! So, now my visiting birds can snack on seeds from the source--sunflowers--which is only fair since they planted them.

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June 16, 2022

Mystical Time on Marsh Creek

Yesterday the dogs and I took a walk down Marsh Creek where we were greeted by a Red-Shouldered Hawk! (The photo presented here is of one across the street from my house.) You can read about the experience in my Bird Blog.

Otherwise, I'm preparing to say goodbye to  spring  and to welcome summer, which arrives on Tuesday, June 21! The first day of summer is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, that is, the day with the longest daylight hours in the Northern Hemisphere. For example, here in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the sun will not set until 8:41 pm, and that's a long day for sure. But summer is about enjoying the outdoors, whether you're picnicking, swimming, or gardening. So here's wishing you a great summer! And I'm sure I'll enjoy many outings on Marsh Creek with my dogs Rosie and Henry.

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May 21, 2022

A Mom and Her Goslings

I love spring, and I love Canada Geese with their springtime brood of goslings. Yesterday I was out walking the dogs when we saw a family of Canada geese—mom, dad, and goslings. Dad, however, would not pose for a photo, being too intent on protecting his family. He quickly swam toward me and the dogs to give us fair warning: Come too close and get a beating. And a Canada goose “beating” is no joke.  A male will give you a good thrashing with his wings 

and even bite you to protect his young. My dogs, recognizing the threat, were eager to move on. Yet I had to linger just long enough to get this perfectly sweet portrait.

April 22, 2022

Celebrate Earth Day by Planting

Mother Earth, like most mothers, enjoys a gift of flowers, so why not give her some? Not the cut flowers you buy in the grocery store, but flowering plants that you put into the earth to grow for the benefit of her many children, including us. Who doesn't like the beautiful colors and sweet smells of flowers? I happen to know that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are a big fan of Bee Balm, or Monarda, a flowering plant in the mint family. 

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Monarda is a perennial, which means that once established, it will grow back each season of its own accord. (Above is a photo of my bed taken today.) And because today is Earth Day, I started a new bed of Monarda (purchased from a nursery) in another location of my yard. Why all the bother? You'll understand why when you see this showy flower in bloom (left). No wonder it's irresistible to hummingbirds.

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March 27, 2022

Day 8 in Spring!

I love the season of Spring so much that I keep track of every passing day so that I don't waste a single one. Luckily, I have two big dogs that demand frequent outings to our favorite place. (To learn more about this place and to see what we did on Day 3 of Spring, see my most recent blog . . . a Blogger Icon in the header of the home page will take you there.) This morning we headed out around 9:30 am and were the only ones about except for the birds and this Great Blue Heron stalking the pond bank in search of a Sunday

mid-morning meal. So as not to disturb him, we took a detour, and he or she was nice enough to pose for this photo. There's only 86 days left to Spring; be sure to get outside as often as possible because you never know who or what you'll see!

March 14, 2022

Spring Equinox Is Coming Soon!

March 20th will usher in the first day of spring, when the length of the day is equal to the length of the night.  Spring is my favorite season because everything is bursting with potential! Today I took my dogs Rosie (a chocolate lab) and Henry (a pointer/border collie mix) out for a walk to one of our favorite places, the site of the Emanuel Harmon Farm in Gettysburg. This is about a 100-acre tract of land with a pond. Willoughby Run (a tributary of Marsh Creek) also runs through this tract of land, which gives the dogs two opportunities to get wet!

Here are two images I took on today's outing. Rosie was checking out the mallards in the pond . . . and thereafter Henry had to wade into Willoughby Run (so did Rosie, but Henry chose a more interesting spot for the camera)! 

Here's hoping the first day of spring is a pleasant one for getting out to enjoy the best season of the year!

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Want to see older posts? Follow this link to archived posting for the year 2021.