Shelter From the Rain

Heavy rain on Tues. evening, with showers and thunderstorms into the morning.  But then came the clearing and the sunshine – and the discovery of what some critters do to seek shelter from the rain.

Cecropia moth

Just outside my studio there is a shagbark hickory tree, with large, wide leaves.  As it turns out – a perfect hiding place from the rain.

A Cecropia moth, our largest native moth, clings to the underside of one of the leaves.  Wings folded, this moth was not disturbed by my attempts to photograph it, which proved extremely difficult.  The breeze kept the leaves in constant motion,  and I had to point the camera up toward the now-bright sky.  So, the photos are not great, but enough to show you what I found.

At one point I did try to hold the leaf still with one hand, while attempting to work the camera with the other.  When I did that, the moth opened his wings – possibly to scare me off with those spots!  They look like holes in his wings in this picture, but they are just its spots.  Not wanting to disturb the moth any further, I gave up and left it alone.

There were several black beetles clustered around the leaf stems, just a few leaves away from the moth.  I haven’t taken the time to identify them yet, but one of the scarab or stag beetles, I think.  There were at least half a dozen.  Again, very difficult to get a decent photo with the leaves swaying in the breeze.

And finally, right under the window frame, another huge spider.  What is it with spiders and my studio building? I’m not sure what species this one is either – have to hit the books and find out.  It should be fairly easy to find, given the striping and size – and I’ll post it back here when I do.   Until then, I’m with Ron in Harry Potter – “Why couldn’t it be butterflies?”

Added  Note:  I took the time to research this and I think the spider is a six-spotted fishing spider.  It says I can tell also by the “undersurface paler, except for six black spots between leg bases.”  So I’m supposed to turn this thing over and have a look at its belly?  Seriously?

Seriously Creeped Out

Fishing Spider

This is NOT what I wanted to see on my studio window screen this morning!  The window was open, but at first glance I couldn’t tell whether this way-too-big-to-be-comfortable-with-it spider was on the inside of my studio, or outside, where it belonged.  Closer – albeit careful – inspection revealed it to be clinging to the outside of the window screen, so that was permissible.

Admittedly, spiders are not among my favorite forms of wildlife.  I do try to capture and release indoor trespassers before I resort to squashing or vacuuming, though that thought always crosses my mind.   Spiders that are outside my buildings are in their own habitat and  I respect that, and their right to be there.  It’s only the ones that come indoors that I have issues with.

Anyway, this one is called a fishing spider.  I’m not sure what he’s fishing for on my screen, but they do like trees and woods and there’s plenty of both here.  In fact, my guess is that it came off, or was heading for, the shagbark hickory that is only inches from the window.

As spiders go…a beauty, I suppose.  Though I think there should be a size-limit on spiders.  Things like insects and spiders tend to get creepier as they get larger.


So Wrong…But So Nice

January Dandelion

This is so wrong – but so nice.  I dislike winter  and so there is no complaining coming from me about this unusual weather.  But I do wonder about the consequences.  For instance, will we have enough water this spring – without the snowmelt?  I don’t pretend to know all of the effects this non-winter may have on the environment,  but I’m certain there will some side effects.  I’m guessing we’re going to have a heavy bug season this spring and summer.

January Daffodils

My daffodils should be hibernating in the dirt under last fall’s leaf litter, instead of pushing up through, about ready to bloom.  It’s a little weird.  But nice.

Garden Dreaming

This is Milo (the kitten in this post). What can I say?  He’s a little strange….but very adaptable.  And yes, he does have a nice, comfortable bed.

Cats, Snakes, and Trash Cans

So last night I’m working peacefully on my laptop on the bed before calling it a night.  My hubs is working in the music studio so I’m alone in the house and everything is quiet – except for my two cats, Claudia and Max, who are softly playing with something in the kitchen. .probably one of their toys.  After a few minutes I realize they’ve walked their toy into the bedroom and are sitting in the doorway, staring intently at the floor.  Then it hits me – they don’t actually have any toys.  I can’t see the floor for the edge of the bed..but I figure I probably should check this out. Whatever it is, it’s probably not good.  Claudia has a litter of kittens in the laundry room, and she probably has brought them a mouse.  Probably.

I don’t want a poor mutilated mouse in the bedroom.  So I get up and walk around the edge of the bed to see what’s so interesting and … SNAKE!  The freakin’ cats are toying with a live, slitherin’ snake!

Photo Courtesy LearnNC site; and The Beach Ranch Post, Texas

Good thing I’m the naturalist-type and not a screamer.  Closer inspection revealed it was a harmless ring-necked snake, but since my naturalist tendencies end at picking up snakes, I opted for the bathroom trash can and a wooden spatula.  Of course, while I was fetching the utensils of release, Claudia chased the thing under the bed, which then required moving furniture around at midnight to find it.  I was at last able to scoop the snake into the can and take it outside, where I released it into the cover of the rose bushes.  It seemed grateful.

No pictures of course – never even crossed my mind at that hour, but in searching for a photo with permission to use, I found this one on the Learn NC website, which actually looked like a pretty cool site and I’ll have to check it out another time.  The snake in the photo may not be the exact type of ring neck, but you get the idea.

Anyway, I officially dislike cats now – at least for a while.  Except for maybe kittens.

Fall Colors

Blogging, Excuses, Life, and Contractors

You know, sometimes you’re just going along having a good time blogging and writing and taking  pictures and networking and then something, or some things happen and Life just gets in the way.  And don’t you hate that excuse?  I sure do, but it’s all I have so I’m sticking to it.  And then one day you realize that folks out there are still finding your blog, still leaving comments, and gee, it was a lot of fun when you wrote every day or a couple of times a week at least…and you say to yourself,  Self, why don’t you take up blogging Natural Notes again?  And so you write a few posts and in spite of all good intentions, you are side-tracked again by numerous goings on until one day you just throw up your hands and say “That’s IT!  I’m blogging again and that’s that!”  And so it is.

So one of my better excuses for not blogging all summer is that we are remodeling our house and it has truly been an interesting experience, to say the least.

This is what is left of our backyard…where we fed the deer last winter is just to the left of the trailer, under that pile of rubble.  Our contractor is a bit messy.  The front yard doesn’t look much better.

We’re pleased with the work so far inside the house – we added 8 feet to the back for the full 50′ length and wrapped the whole thing in hemlock boards, which now need to be chinked before the cold weather sets in. I’ve relocated the bird feeders and we’re hoping the deer will return once all the banging sawing and hammering is over.  Should be done in the next two weeks or so.  They say.

In other news, although running a bit late as usual, the banding lanes were cut yesterday and the nets are going up.  Rained out this morning, but we’ll see what the weather has in mind for tomorrow.   I should finish getting set up and be banding by the weekend.

And of course, I will probably be refreshing this site a bit, and making time to visit the blogs I enjoy reading.  No, really.

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