July 31, 2016
While outside yesterday, I noticed a very large wasp sitting on the edge of the 4 wheel dump cart (the first pic taken by my pohone, the second by my camera which I had to go get)
Turns out that is a Giant Ichneumon Wasp. This particular one is a female and her body was about 2" long with the ovipositor a little longer. I never found a statement on Google that anyone had ever been stung - although supposedly they are capable if they feel threatened. This one was very docile as I got in close to get a good picture using the micro function of my camera. The reason I even noticed the wasp was because I was moving the cart back and forth, using it as a step stool (good thing I wasn't at work OSHA would have had a heart attack). The wasp never even moved or even seemed agitated. She may have been newly pupated and drying her wings (even though she moved them a bit, they never seemed to fully unfold, so may have still been damp).
The adults don't eat but the female lays an egg in the burrow of a wood wasp larva and the Gian Ichneumon larva uses that as its meal all winter long. There are several large, old and decaying tree stumps about 15 feet from where I found her, so maybe that will be her final destination. That mean looking ovipositor is used to drill into the wood for the egg laying and they listen for specific sounds the wood wasp larva makes in order to find the perfect place to drill. It is incredible to think that they can determine the type of larva in the tree just by listening! After the GI larva pupates, the adult emerges between June and September.
Although not rare, they live in woody areas from Canada down to Mexico, I don't remember seeing one before, so I'm guessing they aren't "common", as one usually thinks of the word.
July 24, 2016
I pass Deering's "View" every day and it is always pretty, but I had to turn around to take pictures one evening.
Oh, and the video catches the music from my MP3 player - although a rock song, I thought it kind of went with the view.
May 01, 2016
My Town Makes a Funny
Alright, this is funny right here
A "Slow Down / Safe Speed" sign.
This showed up in my yard sometime between 5:30 pm and 10:15 pm Tuesday evening. It wasn't there when I left for work, but was there when I came back.
What is so funny is that it is sitting about 150 feet from a T intersection with a stop sign. I will admit, since this road is a shortcut between Antrim and E. Hillsboro/W. Henniker, there are a lot of speeders. However, as far as I know, there has never been an accident because someone failed to make the stop (I have seen people pull out in front of traffic after stopping - sightline is not very good).
It only operates during daylight hours, so I didn't get to see it in action until I left for work Friday evening (I usually go the other way in the evening and leave way too early in the morning for it to be on). I backed out of the driveway, put the car in first and eased out the clutch, and the sign told me "Safe Speed", then "Thank You".
Thinking that this is not the best placement for the sign on this road, no kids in area and the stop signe right there. Plus, I kind of think it makes it look as if I have been complaining about speeders (I haven't). Hopefully it will disappear sometime next week.
April 10, 2016
Wacky NH Weather
In this winter of El Nino, NH weather has made some records and distinctions this year; This was winter that wasn't, being somewhere between the 2nd and 4th warmest winter ever recorded (I have forgotten which and my Google-fu isn't getting the info I'm looking for).
Snow fall was at the least amount ever recorder until last week's snow - and I'm unsure where we sit now, but it is very low on the list. Last week Concord, NH (where official temps are recorded for the state) recorded the coldest April low temp ever at 4 degrees. The next day they set a record for the coldest low temp for that date.
Naturally, since I brought the bike home over a week ago, it has either been cold (high temp 20's) or warm with spring showers (AKA - severe thunderstorms, there has been nothing gentle about this week's showers). With the snow in the middle of the week, the roads are covered in mounds of salt/sand since the wise people of DOT failed to plow the 5-6" of snow we received. Instead they elected to use the melty and grippy stuff. Even the heavy rains on Thursday didn't budge the piles of sand in the corners of the road I drive to work.
Looks like at least another week before I can ride the bike, which means I get to listen to it putt in the garage as I need to charge the battery that is slowly being drained by the security system.
March 19, 2016
Birds are Arriving Ahead of the Storm
Saw my first robins for the season last Sunday. Just two, but that is 2 more than I've seen since last fall. Then I saw two geese in a swamp a couple of miles from home yesterday afternoon.
Just opened the back door to let Fuzzy in and heard a cacophony of birds that I hadn't heard lately. I believe they are redwinged blackbirds but since I can't see them, can't be positive. The confusion arises because the calls aren't their territorial calls, which are easy to identify - but seem to be just the last syllable of the call. I'll have to keep an eye on the bird feeders and see if they come in so I can confirm, or deny, my identification.
Have a Nor'Easter coming in tomorrow evening and lasting thru Monday morning. They started out predicting up to a foot of snow. Last night they said 3-5". This morning the forecast was down to and inch +/-. It all depends on where the track takes the turn at. We'll know for sure by Monday evening :)
Update at 5:35: Just looked out and there are about 15 redwinged blackbirds in the trees immediately behind the house. Opened the door and heard the same bird calls - so my earlier ID was correct.
February 14, 2016
Baby it's Cold Outside
Yesterday was cold with brutal windchills. This morning is the coldest morning I remember - definitely the coldest since I've been at this house at -21 degrees
By 2 pm, with a cloudless, sunny sky it had climbed to the high for the day at +4 degrees. It is all downhill from there.
Pellet stoves have done a wonderful job of keeping it warm in the house. Did have a brief scare with power flickers, but thank goodness nothing permanent.
By middle of the week we will be back in the 40's or 50's - I can live with that :)
September 13, 2015
Finally - Glorious Rain
My little section of the world has been very far behind on rainfall. In a 3 week timespan, we got maybe 1/2" of rain. Funny as it sounds, I regularly drove/rode thru rain, and one night there were flash flood warnings for every town surrounding mine - but not mine (because the storms were going to either side). Other towns were dealing with cleaning up overrun culverts and drainage ditches alongside the roads, and I was watering my vegies and new plantings 4-5 times per week. I even had to water new plantings in the no-mow zone; which is a place that has always been damp. I water by hand as I find it very wasteful to water areas outside my gardens. And, I am not encouraging the grass/weeds to grow by giving them moisture. Fortunately watering is soothing, calming and lets me take the time to inspect for weeds infiltrating the mulch.
Well, Thursday into Friday we got a long drawn out rain. Probably only got 1-1.5 inches, but it was nice and slow so soaked in. Today it has been drizzly most of the day, and rain is expected tonight (assuming it doesn't go around us).
An extra 30-40 minutes per day gained in not watering is great!
September 06, 2015
I've had a couple of small projects that I wanted to get done, but had more pressing things to do. I finally found time to do them last weekend while I was feeling lazy.
The first project was to move one of the fence gates. Whe the EX put up the fence, one gate was placed at the corner of the house that is directly next to the lowest end of the ramp. At the time that made sense as it was protected by the eave of the house, so the gate entrance wouldn't get muddy. However, since having the standing seam roof put on last fall, I found the placement just didn't work anymore. The problem is from the roof dumping the snow, which is normally a good thing. The dumped snow compacts to a very hard mound and I was having trouble trying to keep a path from the yard to the gate open. The snow blower was not effective, so I had to chop and shovel.
Well, the obvious solution was to place the gate at the section directly across from the ramp. This improves the situation two ways; the gate is outside the area where the snow dumps, and it makes it more convenient to snow blow from the propane tank into the pen and up to the ramp. Of course the project took way longer than it should have because I went thru every socket I had to try to loosen the nuts on the bolts, then finally had to go buy a deep socket to reach - but at least the job got done. The first picture is the section placed where the gate used to be and the 2nd picture is of the gate's new location.
Another project that came to fruition was staining the landscape timbers to the front gardens. I had to wait for the pressure treatment to dry out enough for staining, and it was finally time. I think the stain helps distinguish the garden are from the house nicely. Also seems to help the plants look more "green" for some reason (all to the good of course).
And then the town almost completed a project; on the 28th I rode home from work and was delighted that they had laid some asphalt! I think they still have one more layer to go, but this is a vast improvement over the previous pavement and the dirt after it was torn up. When I rode in on the 27th, it was mud as apparently they had either oiled or watered the dirt (it hadn't rained) and that was a bit scary feeling the bike slither around. Anyway, I am quite happy with what is there now - and there is no big sinkhole directly in front of my driveway!
February 21, 2015
Record Year for Birds
This winter, both the NH Audubon Society Winter Bird Survey, and the Cornell / Audubon Back Yard Bird Count were on the same weekend. This pleased me as I had a record number of species to report (for me) and I could use that for both counts. There were also sparrows that I wasn't confident of the identification, and some I couldn't even guess or find in a book to my satisfaction. Without further ado, here is my list for this year:
- Blue Jay - 2
- Crow - 2
- Goldfinch - 16
- Chickadee - 2
- Cardinal - 3 (1M & 2F
- Purple Finch - 12 (Cornell tells me that is an unusually high number, but I am positive they were purple, not house finches)
- WB Nuthatch - 1 (too bad I didn't see both of them that are usually around)
- Pine Siskin - 4
- Junco - 2 (a really low number as far as I am concerned)
- Starling - 1 (first one I have seen in NH and was thumbing thru my bird book when I looked up saw the bird on the railing, looked down and I was on that page in the book - funny how that worked out)
- Tufted Titmouse - 2 (usually have 3)
- Downey Woodpecker -1 male
- Mourning Dove - 4
- Pileated Woodpecker - 1 (seen pounding on a dead tree in the empty lot/swamp next door. Was super excited to see it!)
- Sparrows of indeterminate species - around 20
I reported today on the Cornell BYBC site, and will mail in my list to the NH Audubon on Monday
February 16, 2015
Snow, Yeah We Got That
Cop Car asked if we were getting any of the blizzards that have hit the area. Technically we haven't, although we have had plenty of snow and wind. We've had major storms in each of the last 4 weeks, along with minor storms in between.
A few pictures from Sunday when there was 14-15" of snow on the railing of the ramp:
I was actually somewhat happy about the high wind on Sunday as it helped throw the snow over the banks. We have been lucky, parts of MA and the seacoast of NH have gotten hammered worse than this area so far this season.