Sunday, August 14, 2016

Cardinal Pest Control for Cash Crops

There was a half-dozen or more Northern Cardinals gleening insects from the leaves of my zucchini plant early today.  You should be able to find five in the photo (click the picture to view larger size).  No wonder I haven't had any more pickleworms making their way into the fruits. Wonderful to see IPM in action.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Friends and Nature in 140 Characters or Less

I'm not exactly sure why this never got published back in 2012, but I just found it and figured it still is worth a share, even if it is 3 years later.

I started using twitter back in March 2009 when our local news team was offering free movie tickets to tweeters.  In exploring a practical use for Twitter, I thought that I might be able to incorporate some publicity for our local chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society by setting up an account.

Slowly I began locating tweeters to follow, using search terms that had to do with #environment #ecology #gardening #Florida and the like.  I pretty much followed back anyone who followed me, provided that their avatar wasn't naked or their timeline filled with "just ate a sandwich, it was good" or "damn, the ice tray was empty".  I religiously retweeted environmental article links that I found enlightening and somehow began acquiring a solid following.  I guess my mindless drivel isn't such drivel after all ;)

A fellow tweeter caught my eye because she gives a morning weather report for Long Island, my old stomping ground and still home to my eldest sister.  She also shows a penchant for being environmentally concerned. And I also noted a quick wit imbedded in her 140 characters.  I was headed up to NY in 2010 for a wedding so @gemswinc and I agreed to meet for coffee at the airport.  Let's just say that it is somewhat amazing that either of us is capable of communicating using only 140 characters.  We are both quite chatty.  On that trip Cindy was kind enough to drive me from the airport to my sisters, saving a trip for my brother-in-law and the environment since she drives a Prius ;)

In 2011 she was headed down to Central Florida for a family visit so we agreed to meet for lunch.  I found an "off the beaten track" restaurant on Lake Jessup which was unique and somewhat nature oriented.  

Here we are in 2012.  I was once again headed to Long Island for a wedding so we planned to meet at least for coffee or lunch during my 5-day whirlwind trip.

The week I planned my trip details, I had to update mailing lists for the native plant people.  I noticed a member had a 631 telephone area code. Odd, because that is the area code for my sister on Long Island.  I looked and saw that this member showed an affiliation with "South Fork Natural History Museum" which I had never heard of, and since I lived part of the time on Long Island for 20+ years, my curiosity was piqued.  I ran a search and found that it is located in Bridgehampton, on Long Island's East End and it indicated that it had a nature center and trails. I tweeted @gemswinc to see if she ever heard of it. Nada.
We decided this might be a fun place to investigate for our lunch "tweetup".  Obviously geared toward children, but heck, we're just big kids, so it seemed like the perfect venue and it was.  We headed out and had a quick lunch at "the Pear" in the town of Bridgehampton and then headed off to find the museum.

What a great place! Lindsey ??? greeted us and gave us each a field guide for the inside exhibit. She explained that the tour is set up to get children (and adults) familiar with making use of a field guide. I also learned that the native plant society member is the retired director of the museum and I saw his name on a flier as a scheduled tour guide for the upcoming weekend tour.
Since it was a Monday in off-season, we had the whole place to ourselves and Lindsey was quick to interact and answer our questions.  You open doors, pull out drawers and peer through portholes to learn various aspects of nature.  Cindy and I were discussing whether or not the turtle was alive or animated when Lindsey quickly explained that many of the inside exhibits have a "live" half.  The turtle WAS alive!  We were a lot more vigilant looking for things on the "live" side.

There was a "touch tank" filled with crabs, fish, muscles and other interesting creatures.  We headed out to the trails and saw beautiful butterflies, lots of wildflowers and birds.  A return to center took us up to the observation deck that is equipped with spotting scopes and books of the possible creatures you might find out in "the old field". The director ???? joined us and he spotted an eagle doing acrobatics off in the distance and he positioned the spotting scope so we could enjoy the encounter too.
It was a beautiful fall day. The trails are part of the Long Pond Greenbelt which is public lands, so the museum doesn't have to be open for you to enjoy this aspect, but I highly recommended that you plan a museum visit to see all this little natural wonder has to offer.  Bring the kids if you have them, but don't let not having kids stop you from enjoying this "off the beaten track" gem.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Loret’s Excellent Adventure

So, I spotted a cottonmouth snake a couple of nights ago on the patio, eating a Cuban treefrog.  If not for the dogs this would be a joyous sight.  Anything that eats the invasive frogs is a good thing in my book.  Unfortunately, cottonmouths a.k.a. water moccasins, are venomous snakes of the “get thee immediately to the hospital” venom variety.

Most snakes move on in good time, but Chili encountered the snake the other morning, luckily with no serious repercussions.  Again, snakey had a frog in its mouth so couldn’t bite her.  He did, however regurgitate the frog by the time I ushered the dog into the house, so he was getting ready to feast on the larger, more annoying Irish Setter prey.  Thankfully tragedy was avoided.

Today, Elliot, Chili and I were out wandering around and I decided to go inside for a bit.  Down on the patio below an opening in the brick lattice was the cottonmouth. AGAIN!

Obviously the snake was not going to move on so I checked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission website for a snake relocation service.  I was happy to find one just a few streets over from me.

Meet Sonny and Greg of Sonny's Unwanted Adventures…snake handlers extraordinaire.  They arrived in less than 20 minutes with their fancy equipment consisting of a golf club (I think a 3-iron) and a white plastic bag.  The snake had moved but was still visible and they dispatched him into the bag in short order. 

“What do I owe you?” I asked.  “Ten dollars”, Sonny announced.  I was stunned by the low amount and I guess my face showed it because as I opened the door to go inside, Sonny sheepishly said, “Well, I’d take $20 since I have a helper”.  I reached into my purse and grabbed $25.00. At that moment I heard some conversation from the two gentlemen.  “I’ve got it”, one said.  “Check under there, there must be a nest”, the other reported.

I stuck my head out and they were adding a second snake to the Hefty kitchen bag.  They moved the lawnmower and the rubber mat and cleaned out under them.  They looked around a bit and said they would come back if I found any additional visitors.  I reached into my purse and exchanged the $5.00 for a second $20.00. 

Sonny thanked me profusely and reminded me that I now had a credit for a few more catches, to call any time.  I pooh-poohed him and said I’d pay his regular rates for return visits, just knowing that he was close by was worth it to me.

What a relief.  I’m glad I called in the professionals. I might have thought a 9-iron would do the job, and I’d have come up very short!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Life beyond the corral

I let Elliot out after dinner one evening this week and I glanced out at the roadway.  I did a double take, for there, on my street, was a herd of goats. Just munching along the culvert like they belonged there.  They probably live on the next block, I can hear goat sounds every now and again. They must have broken down a fence and meandered through the empty lot across the way.  Ahhhhhhh Country Living, it never is boring.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Elliot Before and After

Well, Elliot lives here for a little over 3 months and what a difference.  His coat has thickened up so that the skin doesn't show through any longer.  His eyes have cleared.  He is a happy, healthy, sweet boy. We are glad that he came into our life where he will stay forever. 
Welcome Home, Elliot!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Arnold surfs the windshield

I was riding home from the grocery the other day, doing my usual 60 in a 55-mile zone. Suddenly, from out of the hood crawled a green anole.

He hung out behind the wipers, tail flapping in the breeze.

We reached a speed limit change so I cranked it up to 65 for the 60-mile speed limit. Arnold (as I named him) didn't seem distressed and I thought of pulling over to let him off, but I know that some of the anoles hang out in my car engine. I figured it might be crueler to drop him off in parts unknown, rather than return him home to his friends. I have a healthy population of green anoles, the only anole native to Florida.

Arnold seemed to get bolder as we rode along. He moved up slightly and firmly planted his feet on a low part of the windshield, but up above the wipers. Now he was surfing. Head turned, smile on his face, he seemed to be enjoying the breeze. I kept an eye on him, for if at any time he looked like he was losing a grip in any way, I would have rescued him, but he held tight.

He got a slight reprieve as we approached the only traffic signal on the 13-mile journey home. He seemed to let up the grip for a moment and I thought he might jump off, but once again he hunkered down as we smoothly transitioned from the stop to 70mph. He actually appeared gleeful with the freedom of the wind in his scales. I gave him the countdown....8 more miles, 7 more miles.....two more blocks...we're nearly there Arnold HANG ONNNNNN!!!!

You may think this borders on reptile cruelty, but if I tried to remove him, my fear was that he would run for cover under the hood and maybe get fried on a hot engine part.

Even with a full stop at the mailbox he didn't look to jump off the car. We drove the next two blocks home and when I pulled into the carport and shut down the engine, he looked around as if to say, "oh, finally we are home".

It wasn't long until he wondered over the top of the car and leaped onto the post that holds up the carport. "Home to my favorite spot, at last!"

I think perhaps I need to do a public service video of the car grill covered in bug wings to show the potential dangers. Something along the lines of "Car surfing can have deadly results".

Photo depicts another of the native anoles that rode home on the sideview mirror from the mailbox recently; they are an adventurous bunch. Arnold was nowhere to be found when I returned with the camera...probably went to take a nap.

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