Spring Surprises 2013

This year it was a long, slow spring with a late snow surprising the snowdrops who’d thought it was safe to come up by 21st. Feb.

Snowdrop surviving a late snowfall

Snowdrop surviving a late snowfall

Three days earlier it had been warm enough to lift the lid of my one remaining beehive and see if they were still alive – there they were with stingers extended:

5223 Bee stingers on frame

They were furious that their warm winter blanket had been too soon removed. I was actually delighted (well, almost) to receive my first sting of the season.  Here is the stinger after I pulled it out, under a 50x magnifier:5224 stinger 50x

A month later the crocus was open and the bees started to work, peacefully this time.5574 bee on crocus

Now in the first week of May they are arriving with many different pollen colors:5894 Bees landing wi pollen

They only collect from one flower type at a time. This allows each flower species to be properly pollinated, but to the bee the pollen is only protein and so the pollen is all randomly mixed when they store it in their honeycomb.

Ants and spiders try to enter the hive but few succeed.  The marking on this spider (who was inside the hive)6027 Black Spider

reminds me of the ‘face’ on one I found last year:Skull spider wi dead bee

This white spider appeared to have overcome the bee and was dragging it away.

The Maumee river rose and fell with the rains and the walleye fisherfolk returned:5564 Walleye Fishermen

Obviously pregnant geese5538 Pregnant goose

laid up to 6 eggs at a time, but once again at least 5 eggs were randomly dropped and abandoned around the shore of the small island, surprisingly ignored by birds and  squirrels.5650 Goose plus one lost egg

I’m now told the geese often do this for no apparent reason!

Today (5/8) I saw different families of one, three and twelve goslings each.6118 Two goose famiilies 3 n 12

But on the grass there was a simple pile of down telling of some sinister happening5865 lost down


There is one lively squirrel who repeatedly travels a treetop route every day – too quick to catch in mid-air with my cell phone camera but I keep trying.  Keith at ikedabarry.com kindly morphed my two separate photos, taken seconds apart, into one ‘before and after’, showing the proper gap between the trees – see below:flying sqrl 001

He then offered me the choice of two images of what I saw, or what I thought I saw. They’re both so great I can’t decide between them:

flying sqrl 002
flying sqrl 002
It also eyes the bird feeder and approaches, claw over claw, on the window screening. Alice the cat enthousiastically watches that.5888 Squirrel at feeder

The magnificent Red Trillium is open.

5937 Red Trillium green leaf

Its leaf (Later: I think it is the ‘Sepal’ rather than the leaf) sometimes carries a beautiful blaze of red also

6038 Red veined green leaf T

The flower reportedly has a carrion odor that attracts flies for pollination.

6022 fly on Trillium

To me it smelt more like baked ham. Does anyone know the odor of Ontario’s white Trillium?

For years I’ve pulled dandelions in the front garden.5920 misc dandelion roots

Looking closely I now see where a new leaf and flower stem can readily grow from where the old root snapped during the previous weeding.5921 new D on old root

Ohio State Extension says you need to pull 4 to 6 inches (100 to 150 mm) of root when weeding this alien invasive. They say that even then it might still regrow, in which case they simply recommend pulling it again. Good thing I’m retired and have nothing else to do!

A little further along Water Street, beside the X-Country ski trail, are two “Vernal Pools”6045 Vernal Pool

In Spring they fill with water and teem with life, then dry up in the summer. Not being connected to the river, they have no fish and so a very different ecosystem can flourish. Scooping a small net immediately catches many strange, to me, creatures. They are so small that water to them is viscous and they swim with peculiar, jerking motions. Hard to persuade them to keep still for my simple 50x magnifier photos. The scale is in mm with the bug immediately below being about 2 mm dia.6065 Pregnant Bug

I presume the one below is a just hatched egg from the one above.

Later: Naturalist, Karen S. kindly id’d the one above as a Water Flea, and one of its progony below.

6072 Baby bug

She says the next two are Mosquito larvae.

6070 Bug no 46067 Bug no 36066 Bug no 2

And the last Spring Surprise shows a good reason to keep your meadow grass short and your feet shod, though lacking a rattle tail I doubt it was dangerous. At about 30 inches (750 mm) long I could not immediately identify it on-line. Any suggestions?

Later: Nat S. says it’s a Garter Snake, paler than usual because it might be preparing to shed it’s skin – Thanks Nat.6091 2pt5 ft snake

6097 Snake Head

This one was more anxious to hide in the shrubbery than to attempt to eat the photographer.

A Santa Spotter

Santa should arrive tomorrow, (if you’ve been good?), 4 days after last week’s Winter Solstice. The sun arcs across the sky on a different path every day for 6 months (from solstice to solstice) so when sunrise this morning came wavily through the old sheet glass and shone on a south facing wall

Sunrise spot on wall_4811

I put a small mirror on it with Silicone and tape so I could get just the right angle.

Santa Spotter Mirror_4820

On the opposite wall I placed a Santa image.

Santa waiting_4823

So set one up and tell your would-be astronomer kids .  When the the sun spot first shines on Santa there are 8 days to go. When the sun lights him up again it should be Xmas Day.  You can set it up for any time of day that sunlight shines into your house. Sunrise, midday or Sunset are perhaps more interesting times at which to observe the seasonal changes of the sun’s position.

Santa Spotted_4812

If the distance is good, and the mirror is flat (I still have a few 25 mm squares if you’d like one?) then the sun’s path across the wall should be different every day.  Perhaps John M. can show me how to take a pinhole camera image of the tracks?

Meanwhile, down by the cold Maumee River one of our two Bald Eagles waded in for a drink and waited in vain for a foolish fish to swim by.

 Eagle in water 092

 Two weeks ago (Dec. 15) it got to 56 F (13 C) on a sunny day and the bees came back to life. Some even brought in some yellow pollen from I don’t know where.

Bee with pollen 118

The  harvest is all in. Pounds of honey poured.

Honey pour  027

Pumpkins gathered from the fields.

Pumpkins 1664

And Ohio grain is trucked to the silos by the I75 bridge

Trucks 1773

where I see it shipped to the world. A moving image in today’s  turbulent times.

Grain Freighter 062

Finally a present to you from Santa: A frost-free windshield. If you park your car outside at night be sure the windshield (windscreen) faces dense trees or a house wall so you don’t get frost and ice on it. 

No ice on front facing house 058

When the back window ‘sees’ a very cold (perhaps -100 C or less) clear night sky, the glass can cool (losing heat by radiation) to 3 or 4 degrees C below air temperature. This easily creates dew on the glass which turns to ice if the air temperature is near freezing.

Ice on back window facing sky 057

Very Best of Seasons Greetings and Happy Solstice to All, Everywhere.




A Perrysburg Wedding

In a quiet and eloquent little ceremony performed by Judge Osterud, Susan & Chris were married (again), on a warm and sunny Friday last week in Perrysburg.  

 The imprint is from an olive tree leaf.

They both swore to “keep” each other.  By the time they got around the corner to Stella’s to celebrate, it was already public news at Mills’ Hardware store and downtown.

A brief two day honeymoon in Cincinnati took in the large Museum of Art, with a modern (2000) Kyoto Globular Vase by Kitamura Junko:

Harvey Littleton glass
 and an Eva Zeisel tea set.

 Overnight was spent in the charming art deco Nederland Plaza
Next day a visit to the highly recommended bug house in the Cinci zoo, where it was warm enough for honey bees to be seen outside upon the November Asters.
 Beautiful red roses arrived just after they got back home to Perrysburg – to be color matched by a happily lunching Red-Bellied Woodpecker.

The bees were huddling for winter warmth and, on inspection, they unequivocally said (by hurling themselves at the photographer – note the large blurry one near the middle of the photo) that they did not want to be disturbed – so their covers were quickly replaced.
And out back, on the little “Garden Island” in the Maumee River, it seems that two bald eagles are also settling in, hopefully for the winter.