Monthly Archives: October 2011

Migrant Season

By | Birds | 3 Comments

I love fall migration. Black-thr0ated Green Warbler in one of the cedar trees out back! (Not a lifer, but a nice little bird, and a new one for the yard list.)

The vast majority of the birding I do is out my window—I keep my binoculars on the windowsill, atop my dog-eared Sibley. It always astounds me the sheer number of birds that come through the tiny vistas seen through the windows. While the odds are skewed somewhat by the fact that my yard is generally pretty darn bird friendly—tall trees, lots of water, heavy on the bugs and birdseed, light on the predators and pesticide—there still must be just an unbelievable number of birds streaming south for any given migrant to show up in my little patch. Even my super-casual birding out the window generally turns up two or three new birds a year. (This year it’s the Black-and-white and the Black-throated Green, last year it was the Red-Eyed Vireo and the rather late Yellow-Billed Cuckoo.)

Haven’t seen the vulture for awhile. Wherever he is, I wish him good health and many tasty road-killed deer. I did encounter a massive family flock of black vultures gathered around an ex-deer on the roadside yesterday, so maybe it was a teenage rebellious phase and he went back to his family.

There was a shed snakeskin in one of the flowerbeds yesterday. I’d judge that the owner was about as thick around as a sharpie. The skin was about a foot long, but the head had shredded off or wasn’t attached, so I’m not sure exactly how large he was. At a guess, probably one of the little brown snakes that love flowerbeds.

Meanwhile, it’s raining, the windows are open, things are cool and damp and smell lovely, and I have a check and sales statement from Penguin informing me that Dragonbreath 1 has sold a smidge over 75K books. Even though I pretty much just get to wave at this check before sending it to the IRS, life is good.

Carolina Mantis

By | Insects | 3 Comments

Found this lovely lady on the lid of the trash can when I was checking the mail. She’s a female Carolina mantis, Stagmomantis carolina. She’s a native and a voracious predator, and yes, one of those types of mantis that do eat their mates given half a chance. While she won’t overwinter, odds are good there’s an egg-case somewhere with her name on it, although the odds of my spotting it are nearly nonexistent—Carolina mantis egg-cases look like odd bits of tree bark and unless she actually cemented it to the trash can, I won’t find it.

Quit chasing me around with that cameraphone, mammal! I took out my last four husbands, I'll take you down too!