We’ve had a bunch of rain storms, and some scattered nice sunny days, and some gloom but dry days.  That’s helping along the spring progression.

Here’s some pictures of stuff we’ve gotten up to (ending a sentence with a preposition…or a noun).  I re-plastic-ed the evaporation green house, it was getting a bit tatty.  I know it’s not super fashionable, but it is functional, done solo, and of course, a sprinkle was threatening me to keep my timing quick.

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I don’t plan to make posthumous bird pictures a habit, but a few days ago, I was down stairs, and I heard that familiar and horrible “thwungp” (somewhere between “whang” and “thump”) that many people who love birds and have windows recognize.  It’s a sound that precipitates a feeling of dread and sorrow… and for me, guilt.  In part, I caused there to be a window there… and now, some bird has mis-seen what was there, and confidently flown into what they saw as safe airspace, instead of a reflective or transparent but very much solid object.  After running outside and looking on the roof of the porch (wishing so hard it would have been a glancing impact, and I would either see a bird a bit dazedly flying away, or nobody there at all), I discovered the very still body of of a female Cardinal.  After balancing on the ladder to recover her, I decided I’d get a few pictures of her close-up, because I’d never get any on a live one.  It may sound bizarre or morbid, but I’d rather at least have some silver lining to something like that, and I would feel guilty if I just quickly chucked the body in the woods like it never happened. So, here are a couple pictures of her.  I like the feathers in her crest, and the sort of creamy blended way the orange in her wing merges to the grey.  Male cardinals get a lot of the glory, but she’s just as beautiful, even if she’s a bit more subtle about it.

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Here are some pictures from the jog with Kyle on the 28th.  We had some pretty ominous clouds both north and south of us, but we just got a few light sprinkles on the jog.  It cleared up a bit right as we got home.  The slideshow also includes a picture of that tube around the neighborhood’s internet cable… one day I will see if there are sea monkies or some other non-copyrighted small invertebrates living in there, it’s always full of water!

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And of course, if you have rainbows, you in theory have treasure at the end, so Ryan, these are for you.

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I promise you, Kyle used up all that treasure at the end of the rainbow.

And yesterday night, after the thunderstorm scared the bejebers out of Kyle, and then continued on its way, Kyle braved the outdoors again.  And he found something interesting in the grass.  I went and checked, and this is what I found.  The black case next to it is for my camera, which is essentially the same size as Ryan’s one (mine is an earlier model).  I’m glad Kyle decided to leave it alone, as one that size could probably gotten him sick if he did try to eat it.

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I’m pretty sure it’s an American Toad (formerly Bufo americanus, but since science is not static, it’s been moved to a different genus since I got my zoology degree and took the Herpetology class.  It’s now Anaxyrus americanus).  I have heard a lot of them in the area in the previous years calling for mates, and this year on a few warmer days I heard a few already. They make a sorta wooden ball in a wooden hamster wheel sound… or a “woooooo” but with a yodel or “dlodlodlodlo” to it too..  I’ve not heard any Fowler’s Toads that I remember …or if I have, it’s not been often enough to remember.  I think the Fowler’s Toad (formerly B. Fowleri, now A. fowleri). likes it a bit drier than our yard area, too.  The Fowler’s guys make a sort of nasal “WHAAAAaaaaaaaa!!!” call… Also, the guy (or gal? I think it might be a gal). in the photo is trying to mess with me… most of the dark spots on her (because of the large size, I’m guessing female) back have 1 bump (“wart”), but the largest dark spot has a bunch of bumps, 3 I think, and the second largest spot has 2.  Fowler’s toads tend to have 3-5 bumps, American has 1-2… and I didn’t get a good look at the chest/belly, which would have helped settle the question.  From the pictures I do have, I think there might be some spots on the chest, which would be more American than Fowler’s toad. Whatever the name, it was really cool to see this toad, I love their eyes!

And adding a last few pictures from today’s evening jog, these critters have been infrequently on the roads after rains in warm weather.  I’m pretty sure it’s the Red Eft life stage (kind of like a teenager newt, not quite adult, and not a larva…tadpole-ish) of the Red Spotted Newt.  Newts are basically a sort of special set of salamanders..but I totally love seeing either, because there are so many more here in Pennsylvania than there were in northern Wisconsin where I grew up, or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  So here we go, these are the best I could get. Isn’t it cute!??!

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