Feeds:
Posts
Comments

While visiting in Southern Maine a few weeks ago we encountered several songbird species that I was able to capture video of.  Included are some birds I don’t often get to see such as Common Yellowthroat, Brown Thrasher and Prairie Warbler.  Hope you enjoy it!

 

As a kid I saw ant hills everywhere, even in cracks in pavement.  Since then my understanding of what a little hole in the sand could be made by has broadened tremendously.  Here are a few examples of different creatures that make holes in the sand.

Antlion Colony

Above are tiny pits in a protected spot under a shed roof.  Other than demonstrating how long ago the rototiller was used, these little pits can lead us to the amazing creature pictured below.

Antlion

Antlions dig their pits as a trap for ants.  They back down into the earth and flick sand up at any ant that enters the pit, making it impossible for the ant to do anything but fall deeper in.  The antlion, waiting at the bottom, then grabs them with those big mandibles and its all over for the ant.  Antlions are the larval form of what are known as lacewings, which somewhat resemble a dragonfly.

Solitary bee

While antions create an inverted version of an ant hill, these next examples do have somewhat of a mound around them. The biggest difference between this and the ants is a much bigger hole which is not always in the center.  Many species of solitary bees and wasps create these holes.  I find these in colonies in open sandy ground without any real protection from disturbance.

In the above picture you can see a bee coming out of the hole.  The below pictured holes are more indicative of the solitary wasps, with the sand pushed out in one direction.

solitary bee or wasp

In this picture a “pathway” was created in front of the hole.

testing depth

We tested the depth of a few of these holes and found them to be around 2 inches deep.  They could of course have changed angle and gone further down.

testing depth

Below is a closeup of one of the suspected wasp holes.

solitary bee or wasp burrow

 

Wolf spider burrow

Many kinds of wolf spiders burrow, some make these turreted holes, using twigs, pebbles and spider silk.  The wolf spider pictured below was walking amongst several of these spider holes which circumstantially indicates it may be of the borrowing wolf spiders (Geolycosa).  It is carrying its young on its back.

Wolf spider with young on it back

 

Tiger Beetle

This beauty is a Six Spotted Tiger Beetle.  Its larval form digs vertical shafted, very clean holes.  The adult form (pictured above) digs this hole below, more of a shallow slot really, as a shelter.

Possibly adult tiger beetle

As a kid I was not much interested in insects and spiders until I learned they could build things.  Turns out they build all sorts of thing including these burrows and tunnels and its was all right under my feet.

Phoebe nest

Earlier this Spring at one of my work locations I noticed Eastern Phoebes hanging around. Sure enough when we looked around for a nest it was tucked up under the deck. I used my camera to see inside and when we looked at the pictures saw something I had not seen before, though recognized right away.

One of the eggs is quite different, bigger, speckled and even a slightly different shape.

cow bird egg

Another bird I had noticed in the area was a singing Cowbird. Brown-Headed Cowbirds have an amazing song with more than one note produced at a time. Though a short song compared to many other birds theirs is quite complex. Look it up if you have a chance, or better yet find a Brown-Headed Cowbird near you and listen in person.

Another amazing thing about cowbirds is how they raise their young. They don’t. They leave it up to other birds by laying their eggs in other birds nests for them to raise. This is a great strategy for a species that once followed buffalo herds.

Often the cowbird baby out competes the host bird’s babies and they perish. So the question before me and my little comrades of the day was what to do about this invading egg. The cowbird baby’s presence might lead to the demise of our beloved Phoebe’s young.

What would you do?

Cowbird egg

Forgot to include this here.  Part 3 of the coiled basket tutorial.

 

Part two of three how to video on make a coiled basket out of grass.  I begin the sides, and even out the shape.  In the third part I will show several ways to make a handle depending on materials, tools and time available.

Basketry is an art form with many variations. One form found in many parts of the world for hundreds and maybe thousands of years is coiled basketry. In this country (the U.S.) the most recognized form would be the pine needle baskets made by Native American groups in the Southeast and possibly elsewhere. Many materials have been used in the past and today.

In this video I demonstrate how to make a simple and expedient coiled basket out of dead grass and string. This will be a three part video so I can show all aspects of the process.  Many other suitable materials could be used in the same way.  This is one of the few basket weaving techniques that could be applied as a survival skill because it is immediate with no need for soaking or lengthy processing of materials (willow shoot weaving would be another).

If you enjoy this video please subscribe to my Youtube channel to be sure to see the next two installments in the coiled basket series.

My family really enjoys make maple syrup right from the trees in the back yard.  We only make a little each year and so do not have any specialized equipment.  This year I employed an expedited version of a rocket stove made from cement blocks to boil the sap.  It was quite efficient.  We did not use much wood and produced something close to a quart of finished syrup.

Nothing I have ever purchased has tasted as good or been as satisfying as what we make in the back yard.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 325 other followers

%d bloggers like this: