Wednesday, July 26, 2023


On the edge of a long-abandoned field grows a batch of wild bergamot, the lavender-colored relative of the more well known bee-balm.

Wild bergamot’s a mint, with the nectar-filled tubular flowers typical of members of the mint family. Those flowers attract the insects that possess the ability to access nectar deep in the flowers as well as ruby-throated hummingbirds.

As I walked the old road that follows the edge of the field a hummingbird clearwing moth flew from flower to flower with its long proboscis loosely coiled–

It would test a few individual florets before finding one that had enough nectar to warrant spending some time feeding –

Hummingbird clearwing moths are day-flying moths that feed on flowers’ nectar as adults and help pollinate the flowers in the process, the larvae (caterpillars) eat the leaves of hawthorn, dogbane and various honeysuckles.

These moths are often mistaken for hummingbirds or huge bees as they feed in old fields or suburban gardens –

The moth fed for a while and off it went in search of other flowers and I headed on down the road.

A quarter mile further down the road a large fallen log beckoned as a great place to sit and have a snack and some water. Finished, I put my pack on, picked up the camera and glanced down the road. And what should I see, but a young black bear ambling down the road. It wandered from side to side, sat down to scratch and slowly kept coming.













I was leaving anyway, didn’t want to disturb the youngster and we were headed in the same direction so I went on down the road.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

In a Patch of Daisies

Near here there’s an old field now planted to switchgrass, one of the warm season grasses, that grows best in the hot summer weather. On the edge of the field is a patch of ox-eye daisies that measures about 15 feet long and ten feet wide. Ox-eye daisies aren’t a native species (the species is native to Europe) but it’s widespread, growing in fields, pastures and disturbed sites where the flowers produce large quantities of pollen making them very attractive to most pollinating insects. They also attract insects that feed on nectar and insects that eat other insects.

On a summer morning I spent about a half hour watching and photographing the insects that visited this patch of daisies. Here they are:

Soon the daisy flowers will be finished blooming and they'll go to seed – the insects will have to find pollen elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Spring at the Cave

Just below the rim of the Allegheny Plateau is a small cave where one of my camera traps has been located for five years. The spot has provided many videos of wildlife, especially bobcats –

Recently I planned to change the camera’s memory card and headed through the woods to accomplish that task. Although the card had fewer videos than earlier in the year, here are the videos the camera acquired in March, April and May –

Unfortunately, as I walked to the camera’s location it became quite apparent that the deer trail that I’d always walked to check the camera was about to be converted to a trail for humans – hikers, runners, skiers and mountain bikers. That trail is less than 200 feet from the cave, although neither the cave nor the camera are visible from the trail. Research has shown that many species of wildlife limit their use of areas that are within 500 feet of a heavily used trail.

So it was time to bring the camera back and abandon the site – the camera might be found and taken, but if wildlife abandoned the cave there would be no point in leaving it there anyway.

Fifty years ago I was a proponent of hiking and skiing trails. However times have changed as more and more people spend time in the woods, not to see and enjoy what’s there but to exercise or use the latest technological gadget – but that’s a rant for another post at another time.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The Box on the Snag - a sequel

As of April 30 it appeared that the pair of eastern bluebirds that had begun building a nest in the box on the snag had given up and gone elsewhere – the account was posted here.

It wasn’t long after the bluebirds moved on that a male house wren began singing from the top of the snag – it was May 10 to be exact.


He also began taking twigs and sticks into the box. Within a week a female house wren showed up and began examining the interior of the box –













A few more days passed before she started to bring dry grasses and take them into the box –

Were they actually going to raise a brood in the box? One can but hope.

I waited until I thought eggs would have been laid and then put a dental mirror through the entrance hole – nothing to be seen other than dried grass.

The wrens seemed to disappear for a while and then, all of a sudden the male reappeared to sing on the snag and repeatedly enter the box. Hmm says I, maybe I missed the eggs. When the bird’s activity continued for a few days and it looked like food was being taken into the box it was time to take out the dental mirror again, put it in the entrance hole and look around. Nothing to be seen again, our hopes for a brood of young wrens were dashed once more.

And then on June 19 the head of a nestling appeared in the entrance hole. It’s good I don’t have to use a dental mirror on a regular basis –

Now the adults were frequently bringing food –

Occasionally two nestlings could be seen at the entrance –

The young ones were now loud enough that they could be heard through our open kitchen window –

Until the adults brought more food –

The next day all was quiet at the box, the young had fledged, entered the wider world and left the box on the snag behind.