Natural History Notes

Monday, January 24, 2011

winter, birdfeeder, bees, etc.

Saturday January 22 -- Two nights ago it was in the teens after a bitter, windy day. Today, with almost no wind and no clouds at all it got up to sixty! The bees were out in same force. They continue to show up with frequent loads of the mystery orange pollen, as well as the yellow that I suppose is dandelion, and pale yellow/dirty white -- winter honeysuckle? Perhaps the orange is cedar, though those trees i have looked at are not flowering. Hmm, the Illustrated Flora doesn’t give a bloom season for junipers.

Cats went out today for three or four hours and seem to have tired themselves out. I got home an hour and a half ago, and they didn’t move from their napping spot together on the wicker chair; they’re still there.

Sunday morning -- goldfinches dave discovered the feeder! Must refill today. Also the suet cake, nasty-freezer-tasting as it may be, is mostly gone. Carolina wren has a lot to do with that. I bought a couple of new fresh ones.

Chilly cloudy gray day today, unlike yesterday. 2pm and it is barely up to 47°. (Forty-seven! Degrees! Rah! --Pomona College in-joke) That may be why there is much more activity at the feeder today.

Agate had another run-in with the black-and-white tuxie cat that lives around here somewhere. I felt all over him and couldn’t find any sore places. Sure hope there is no hidden bite that will abscess; I feel we have been there, done that.

I didn't even see this cardinal in my viewfinder -- he showed up in the annoying interval between button-push and shutter-click. I put it up on Facebook captioned
Cardinal one: "Outa my way!" Cardinal two: "I'm gone, man."

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Monday, January 10, 2011

winter weather!

Saturday was a splendid, cloudless, windless day in the fifties. Eddie and Stephen refilled my woodshed.

I took a walk in the west forty and photographed grasses and tracks by the pond.

Overnight it started raining. Sunday morning was a steady cold drizzle. Feline disgust.

About 11am or so it changed to heavy sleet and then snow, which came pouring down in thick huge flakes. Within half an hour the ground was covered. I refilled the bird-feeder and enjoyed watching much activity.

I think I counted nine male cardinals at once, certainly eight. The two towhees are here, and white-throats and Harris sparrows.

Early Monday morning I saw a kinglet sitting on the top of the fan housing outside the upstairs landing window, fluffed out round. What do they EAT? I put out a suet-cake, but it has been in the freezer for a very long time, and I haven’t seen anyone interested in at.

I have burned up a good deal of the guys’ work.

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mystery tree (solved)

Last May, when I was taking pictures of the wonderful vine(s) of dewberries I found under the oak halfway to the gate, I discovered a little tree that I didn’t recognize, next to and among the dewberries, with small white flowers in clusters. Of course I tried to make it out to be a persimmon tree, but it wouldn’t go there. Then I more or less forgot about it.

Last Sunday (January2), as I set off for a walk, I thought of it, and went to see what sort of fruit it had made, if any remained on the branches. There were a few last hangers-on of black berries. I photographed the twigs and berries, and tried to key the tree out in the Key to Families in the Flora of North Central Texas. No luck. In frustration I wrote to Becky Bender and Mike Mizell.

Becky replied that it was probably a Carolina Buckthorn, Frangula caroliniana . Sure enough, it fits that description to a T, as well as matching the photos produced by Google image. So there is a nice new species for the Ridge. But I STILL can’t get it to the Rhamnaceae in the family key!

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