Friday, June 27, 2014

Come see a few mammals:>)

A Few Mammals Just For Fun

It's been a busy week:>)

A mammal is one type of animal among thousands.  In regular language, mammals are animals that have bodies either covered with or partly covered with hair.  They have an internal skeletal system with a spine,   and they feed their babies on milk.  The word mammal is taken from the Latin word for breast, "mamma".  

Mammals are warm-blooded which means they don't need to lay in the sun, like lizards, to warm their bodies; the blood that circulates through the body is warm.  Most have four limbs (legs, arms).  The vast majority give birth to live babies.

As with absolutely everything in nature, there are exceptions.  Whales and dolphins are mammals, for example. The platypus and the echidnas lay eggs!  These strange mammals are called Monotremes, and I believe only Australia and New Guinea have these wonderful, unusual creatures.

Beneath the pictures is a more formal definition of mammal.

Today you are seeing only a few backyard mammals that were languishing in the picture folder.  We've been consumed with socializing, consoling, pampering, and just generally spending time with our new, feral kitten (a mammal, by the way).  He's named "Spot" and you will meet him here soon.  I'll give the long story of how he came to be ours and the trials, failures, successes, and finally the joy of having a feral baby cat.

Today, however, I'm taking the easy way out because Spot will soon be awake and needing attention.  Enjoy the pictures and forgive me for the quick post:>)

Last year a Mommy groundhog brought her babies out onto our lawn.  I hoped to get a couple pictures by sneaking out the kitchen door and quietly circling the apple tree and grabbing a photo through the branches.  As luck would have it, the Mom was off a little way and the babies were consumed with consuming - I guess the grass was so tender and sweet they didn't notice me and were walking around within a couple feet of my legs.  Mom suddenly saw them so near to me, raised her tail and waved it like a flag.  I don't remember if she made a sound (probably did), but the little ones saw the flag and went running to their mother:>)

Chipmunks are beloved by all - such characters, so cute!  They are busy all the time gathering food by stuffing their cheek pouches full to bursting then running underground to their storage room and emptying out the bounty.  These little ground squirrels have a literal labyrinth of tunnels and rooms - bedrooms, bathrooms, storerooms - very clean animals.  They can also have as many as 30 entrances to their underground home.

This crafty chipmunk learned there were sunflower seeds in the feeder we hang outside the front window.  He (she?) learned to climb to the windowsill then jump up on the feeder.  We figure if he's that intelligent, he deserves the seeds:>)

Did you say you're bringing more sunflower seeds?

Hard work - leaning on a rock while I steal a snack is kinda nice:>)

We have a couple resident raccoon families.  They are wild and don't like us to be near them - that's a good thing - but they also know we put out suet for the birds.  If I forget to bring it in early in the evening, it is GONE!  Here is one of the culprits.  This bandit has her mask on so we won't recognize her.
The Eastern Gray Squirrel (a tree squirrel) is the aerial acrobat of the forest.  They can leap long distances from branch to branch, and they climb up and down trees as if walking on a flat floor.  They are also the bane of any person who feed birds as there are few feeders made that can deter a Gray Squirrel from raiding the birdseed.  They are SMART!  They think and plan.  They also can get really tame, which I don't recommend people try to do.  Wild animals are unknown quantities and we don't know what may scare or anger them.  Anyway, our squirrels love un-shelled peanuts; I buy them in the winter to feed a number of kinds of birds, but I always plan on having enough to feed squirrels as well.  Even if I didn't want to feed squirrels, they would make sure they got their share.  If you can't lick 'em, join 'em:>)

Thank goodness for claws to dig with.  There's food under all this snow.
Brrr - Winter sure is a long time going!
I wish I'd worn my mittens!

Our local greenhouse has a constant population of lovely, friendly cats.                     

Deer are regular visitors to our yard at any season of the year.  I keep our lilies, hostas, and many other plants out of the deer buffet by spraying with Liquid Fence.  It also works on bunnies and groundhogs.  

This is my better side:>)

You can make use of the information below if you wish.

Thank you, as always, for making the time to visit and read the blog.  See you again next Friday!

Visit these site for more information:>)

The definitions below come from the Merriam-Webster on line concise dictionary found here:

Full Definition of MAMMAL

:  any of a class (Mammalia) of warm-blooded higher vertebrates (as placentals, marsupials, or monotremes) that nourish their young with milk secreted by mammary glands, have the skin usually more or less covered with hair, and include humans
mam·ma·li·an adjective or noun
Any member of the class (Mammalia) of warm-blooded vertebrates having four limbs (except for some aquatic species) and distinguished from other chordate classes by the female's milk-secreting glands and the presence of hair at some stage of development. Other unique characteristics include a jaw hinged directly to the skull, hearing through bones in the middle ear, a muscular diaphragm separating the pectoral and abdominal cavities, and nonnucleated mature red blood cells. Mammals range in size from tiny bats and shrews to the enormous blue whale. Monotremes (platypus and echidna) lay eggs; all other mammals bear live young. Marsupial newborns complete their development outside the womb, sometimes in a pouchlike structure. Placental mammals (see placenta) are born at a relatively advanced stage of development. The earliest mammals date from the late Triassic Period (which ended 206 million years ago); their immediate ancestors were the reptilian therapsids. For 70 million years mammals have been the dominant animals in terrestrial ecosystems, a consequence of two principal factors: the great behavioral adaptability provided by the ability of mammalian young to learn from their elders (a consequence of their dependence on their mothers for nourishment) and the physical adaptability to a wide range of climates and conditions provided by their warm-bloodedness.

Vertebrates have an internal skeleton formed of cartilage, bone, or both. The skeleton consists of a backbone (vertebral column), which partly encloses a spinal cord; a skull, which encloses the brain; and usually two pairs of limbs. Nerves extending from the spinal cord and brain permeate the skin, muscles, and internal organs. The muscular system consists primarily of bilaterally paired masses attached to bones or cartilage. Skin and scales, feathers, fur, or hair cover the outer surface.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pampered Flowers

Flowers Of The Cultivated Kind

Fed, Groomed, and Fussed Over

Here on the East Coast of the USA, summer is upon us.  Gardens are beginning to show off their colors and textures, and we are enjoying the fruits of our early springtime labors in the dirt.

This post is just to give some lovely blossoms some face time:>)  We can never have too many flowers!  There are two pictures of cacti which, technically, aren't flowers but they are handsome.

Let's celebrate summer!
Have a wonderful weekend and we'll meet again next Friday:>)  Thank you for making time to visit.

Friday, June 13, 2014

An Eclectic Mix Of Spring Things

A Seasonal Mix Of All Kinds Of Stuff

Springtime-ish Photographs

Redbud Tree

Here is a jumble of a few visions of spring.  This will be a simple blog post and I won't talk much - "what a relief!", you say - LOL.

Bleeding Heart

This looks like a member of the Reduviid family - Wheel bugs are a member and you may be familiar with them.

Bright blue damselfly.  The wings are folded above the back unlike those of dragonflies which are
normally help straight out or downward.  Damselflies are also much smaller and their eyes are like
bubbles on the side of their head.  

This is a fungus that lives inside dead and dying trees and branches.  What we see on the outside (this picture)
is called a fruiting body - it produces the spores which, like seeds, will spread the fungus.  A common name
is shelf fungus, or sometimes bracket or plate fungus.  This is also called "Hen Of The Woods".

Japanese Iris are small and elegant.  They have no
"beard" like the larger, more showy irises.  These
grow in clumps and bloom in a mass of this
gorgeous purple/blue color.

This is one of a very few daffodil plants that grow in our yard.  They were here when we
moved in over 46 years ago, and they are lovely!  It is an old-fashioned
kind of daffodil that we love.

Baby groundhogs (woodchucks, grundsows, whistle pigs) out for a walk with Mom.  They were right near my feet
and totally unafraid.

We are seeing more baby toads this year than we have for a few years.  That's good!  They eat bugs:>)

The daddy goose (gander) is on the left and carefully watching me and all else that is near to the goslings.   Both he
and Mom would attack if their personal space was invaded and they perceived danger to the little ones.  I stayed well
back.  These are not tame geese, not the non-migratory kind that tolerate people.  These are wild.

We have Baltimore Orioles in our woods every year but they stay in the canopy of the trees and are hard to spot.  This female was in the apple tree (probably finding bugs) and hopping about so quickly I couldn't line up a decent photo.
Just before she flew of she did this.  I swear she was "Flippin' the bird" at me and laughing:>)

The Unami Creek

This is a darker morel mushroom.  Morels can vary
to some degree in color and shape

This is a light colored Morel mushroom.  Both
examples grow right near our house in Spring.


Little Wood Satyr butterfly
These are small, inconspicuous butterflies that flit around at the edge of the woods enjoying the dappled sunshine.
They rarely sit still, but when they do land it's generally in a sunny spot.
I just took this picture a couple days ago and haven't ID'd either the bug or the fungus that appears to be responsible for the gall on this plant.  It's a bug I haven't noticed before - colorful, eh?
The Eastern Chipmunk is a ground squirrel. They are, perhaps, one
of the most recognized wild animals in our area.  Always perky, always
moving, they are a favorite:>)
Common Snapping Turtle
These guys have a lousy reputation but are, in fact, not that bad although I wouldn't mess with them.  In the water they are not aggressive, but on land, where they feel vulnerable, they are dangerous.  That neck can stretch all the way to their hind feet and the strength of those jaws can take off a finger.  When it's time to lay eggs or go find new territory, you can see them crossing roads.  People seem to either try to hit them (NO!) or try to help them (NO!).  If you attempt to pick it up you can be badly bitten.  If you get it to bite on a stick and drag it to safety, that dragging action can scrape them and open areas for deadly infections to sicken the animal.  Either shepherd it across the road or leave it alone but be safe, whatever you do.  They are opportunistic eaters and will dine on carrion and various living things, like fish.  They lay in the mud on the bottom waiting for unsuspecting prey to come by then -- SNAP!  Breathing is easy - just stretch that loooong neck up to the surface of the water and stick out your nose:>)  This old mossy-back shows how algae grows on their shells.
Woodland snail
Bird seed thief!  Also suet thief and peanut thief!  She is hungry because she has a family to feed.
Raccoons are excellent mothers:>)  This one was really relaxing during this meal.

The Six-spotted Tiger Beetle is a fierce hunter - BIG JAWS for grabbing and holding on to their prey.  The iridescent
color is gorgeous!  Most appear green with white spots and a blue-ish underside.  The angle of light made this guy look amazingly blue.

Jewelweed is a wildflower that LOVES wet soil but can grow where it is only moderately damp.  They are related to our garden Impatiens, grow a couple feet high, and form clusters of plants with these pretty green leaves with the orchid-like flowers.  There is mountain lore that says if you rub this plant on your skin when you've been exposed to Poison Ivy it will make the rash less severe.  I've tried it and cannot verify that this is true.  That being said, if you are out in the woods with no other option - rub the plant on your skin if you're exposed.  It won't hurt and who knows??? It may help.

Lichen on a fallen log

Hostas grow well in our locale.  They like the rich, moist soil and light shade in our yard, and the flowers are lovely.  Most people grow hostas for their leaves and the leaves are wonderful.  Some varieties have immense leaves, some look almost blue, some are variegated.  If you have a kind of shady spot that seems to be a problem - try hostas:>)  One caveat - deer consider hostas to be fine dining.  I spray with Liquid Fence to save them and it works.

This is one of many beetle types called a "Blister Beetle".  If handled they can exude a substance that gives some people blisters.  Most are flower-eaters.

Ailanthus webworm moth on Ironweed

Above - Falcate Orange Tip Butterfly.  They fly in May and then are gone until next year.

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly on Buttonbush.

Slime molds are amazing things and they are more like amoebas (simple, one-celled animals) or protoplasm (the clear, almost jelly-like living substance in cells) than fungi.  They can move and find food.  They have a chemical way of calling a bunch of slime milds together to be fruitful and multiply, and they look very different at different stages of development.

Chocolate Slime Mold in Fruiting stage

Close Up of Chocolate Slime Mold in Fruiting Stage

These bracket fungi are sometimes called Dryad's Saddle.  The one on the right is more than a foot across.

Apple Blossoms

Hypericum Hidcote

 This is a flowering Multiflora Rose, an invasive species that is everywhere.  They are lovely, smell wonderful, but take over an area before you can blink.

Spirea with a golden bug:>)

A farm down the road has a mixture of milk cows and beeves.  I love seeing them so happy in the tall grasses
of their field; they look so content:>)  They are my BFFs (beef friends forever)

Male Indigo Bunting - glorious color!  

Down another road is a wooded area that once was a farm.  Nothing is left of the old homestead except pieces of stone walls and wisteria - that's right, wisteria.  This is what happens when the vine is left to it's own devices and left to grow unchecked.  The beauty of the plant is undeniable, and the perfume it releases onto each breeze is heavenly, but it is EVERYWHERE!

I haven't run out of photos yet, and I'm a lifetime away from running out of words, so we'll meet again next Friday.

As always, I thank you for making time to visit and read the blog:>)  Have a great week!