Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Nighttime Beauties ~ A Living Cocoon Bouquet

Last September a fellow Lepidoptera enthusiast, Tor, had given me a remarkable gift. Several twigs with Cecropia Moth cocoons attached. When I placed the leaf coated, brown silky cocoons all together in a pewter pitcher, I had a uniquely created cocoon bouquet. Most bouquets quietly die over days or weeks but not this one.

A bouquet of Cecropia cocoons blossom and fly into the night sky. The full story is here.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ephemeral Visitations from Ethereal Nighttime Beauties

We humans are creatures of habitual repetition and it is a reliable assumption that by nightfall most people are indoors with lights on and doors closed to the outside world. When we accidentally or purposefully leave our outside lights on, it is somewhat like fly fishing with the bright light being the lure. Many night beauties will be drawn to the light and will fall into a deep sleep making them vulnerable in the morning.

You can read the entire story here. After you read the story and see more photos I hope your connection to  nighttime beauties will happen often. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Staying Connected

Though I feel like I have walked away from so many contacts I have made here at Blogger, I am committed to staying connected and will use blogspot as a stepping stone to my new website and blog.
I am taking a break due to burn-out from working so hard on the new site. I hope you might check it out by clicking here. There you can see the story that goes with the photo above. It was a precious encounter and there are more photos if you click on the link. Best Wishes for now. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Almost Saying Goodbye to Blogspot

Flower Hill Farm finally has a new website and blog. I hope you will come over and take a scroll around our fifty pages plus. I will not be closing blogspot since my builder has yet to figure out how to transfer the comments from this blog and I so treasure your words. I hope to begin visiting other blogs now and catching up on what you all have been up to. I would so appreciate it if you would leave a comment over at my new blog instead of here. Then I will know if it works or not.

Mystery Bird — Female Magnolia Warbler  or  Female Yellow-throated Vireo


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spring's Resolve Bluebirds and Tree Swallows

Property disputes between bluebirds and tree swallows, and tree swallows and tree swallows seem to be resolved by now and life is very busy with serious nesting preparations here at Flower Hill Farm. 
Today I took my first butterfly photo of 2014 — caught a whisper of light in a Cabbage White while she rested between sips of daffodil nectar. I invite you to scroll through to see the animated birds and a honeybee too. 

Migratory songbirds are showing up daily to claim their territory. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet is displaying his crown while very near the ground. I fear for the hundreds of sleeping pupa and caterpillars hoping for a season to spread their gowns. But I am happy to see these familiar bird friends return.

Everyday, new Iris reticulata stems are breaking earth and pushing their way through last years detritus spreading petals of blues and purples across the garden floor. 

Meanwhile, I am working at the computer most days into nights and often into nearly dawns trying to finish my new website. Gathering and resizing then grouping years of photos of wildlife and gardens, skies and landscapes all arranged on pages that hold this place in pixels. Flower Hill Farm and all her beasties are being catalogued and soon will be presented on my new site 

I will be back here a few more times to invite you to visit. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Snowdrops and Returning Birds Announce Our Real Spring

Spring is finally here in Western Massachusetts! 

Snowdrops are ringing their tiny white bells.

Bees are answering their chimes.  The woodcocks have returned along with the Phoebes and Tree Swallows.  Robins are singing at dusk and dawn.  It is a wonderful season.  I just finished my butterfly page for the new website.  They — the butterflies — apologize for not making an appearance here as well but there is just not enough time to be everywhere.  I look forward to sharing the new site with everyone soon. 


Monday, March 24, 2014

Waiting with Wildlife for Spring's Return

We are all patiently waiting for spring to arrive here in Western Massachusetts.  Flower Hill Farm has no buds a bloom in the trees or scattered about the snow covered grounds, and though I may be a bit weary of this winter, I can see signs of spring in the arrival and behavior of some of our wildlife.  I have seen turkey vultures soaring high over the hills and do note more song filling the rawness of early morning.  Also, sap is flowing within the sugar maples, while stacks from sugar shacks are ushering plumes of sweet steam into the chilly air.

A Red-shouldered Hawk woos me with his strikingly patterned wing span and full tail fan, as he flies from Michael's Black Cherry tree towards the forest below.  More ephemeral than a spring flower but what a warm rush of awe I feel in witnessing this flight.

The bluebirds are ready for spring to finally spread our way too.  I cannot help but think he is trying to tell me something coming in out of the bright sunshine, to perch in the cooler shade closer to my door.

 I am curious why the bluebirds never eat the crabapples, when so many other birds find them tasty.

Cedar Waxwings are seemingly content harvesting American Cranberry bush Viburnum and crabapple fruit.  I am seeing them through a studio sliding door and screen which gives a more pastel feel to the image.  The bright yellow tips of their tails remind me of daffodils that must be stirring a bit beneath the snow.

Waxwings filled the naked trees like large buds.  They will perch for awhile and then suddenly all will dive like a small cloud into the crabapple orchard and feast on the apples.  There is a flock of waxwings out in the crabapple orchard as I write this, but they are mostly still, taking in the warmth of the sun, on this 18 degrees Fahrenheit frigid morn.

On the ground there are hundreds of animal tracks crisscrossing around the snowy gardens and fields.  Here a white-tailed doe gracefully displays her namesake as she walks through the middle garden mirroring the white landscape.

 In the crabapple orchard, could they be munching on the tiny fallen fruit.  It has been a very long winter and all the wildlife must be longing for a heartier meal.

I startle the deer, when I open the door to have a closer look and they quickly flee into the north field.

I have always wanted horses and find them beautiful to see out in fields.  Seeing deer bounding through the snow covered scenery adds cheer to the still clinging winter day.

White-tailed Deer do very little damage here but this critter is an entirely different matter.  She chomps off-shoots of shrubberies as if they were celery sticks.  Clearly some beasts are more compatible for waiting out spring's return.  To be fair to the Eastern Cottontail, I could add that most shrubs do recover from this pruning.

Wild turkeys, however, bring such fun into the gardens.  When they fill the scene their liveliness is so comical and uplifting.  I sense they are very winter weary too, as they literally leap and lift themselves up into the trees.  This hen is not leaping for joy here but for the tiny crabapples that are abundant in the canopies of the small trees.

A hen harvests apples from up in the crabapple tree, while a few toms skid and slip about below picking up what she drops in the slippery snow. 

Sunlight is perfect lighting — illustrating the bronze-green iridescent wild turkey plumage.  This male displays his long beard or tuft of hair.  I have yet to find an explanation for this odd detail that only males don.

Such colors brighten spirits still longing for spring.  All these visits come within a day except for the Red-shouldered Hawk, who visited one day earlier.  These beautiful creatures simply take each day as it comes and in observing their grace and patience, this human can bear the wait for spring's return with gratitude and good faith too.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Bestiary ~ Warblers ~ Northern Parula

Over two years have passed since my monthly posts featuring Warblers began over at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens.  The next to the last warbler in the series, and as always sighted in the gardens at Flower Hill Farm, is presented this month in 'A Bestiary — Tales from a Wildlife Garden.'  The Northern Parula perches in an old apple tree and darts about searching for insects inside flower buds as I capture photos.  If you would like to see more images and learn about these unique, small warblers please do visit — A Bestiary.

The feisty Redstart will be the last of this series of Warblers and then onto other songbirds that share this land and habitat. I so look forward to their return this spring.  It has been a joy to recall the numerous encounters I have had over the years through writing the Bestiary.  I hope to sight more species here this coming season. 

Perhaps you can match the names to the bouquet of birds above  — Yellow Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat, Chestnut Sided Warblers, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Palm Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Nashville Warbler. There is a Redstart there too. 

I am still working hard on my new website, and missing posting here. I will hopefully have it going by April. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Monarch Migration Milkweed & Monsanto

It is hard to imagine that the words Monarch, Migration and Milkweed would have anything in common with a multinational chemical and biotech corporation like Monsanto. To see and hear the word Monsanto conjures up images of poisons, lies, manipulation, and now the possible loss of a momentous migration is added to the list of onslaughts to our environment, personal health and sacred connections to nature.  

Monarch Butterfies are just one of the insects that fall prey to Monsanto made pesticides and herbicides. Many other important and treasured pollinators are killed as well.  Consider a diverse community of wildlife living within a stand of milkweed. 

It is sad to visualize a dense wet toxic veil of poison stealing across huge swaths of wildlife habitat growing alongside mono gmo crops and highways. Hundreds of species of milkweed have been killed by the insidious manipulations of Monsanto. For years farmer's allowed native plants to grow along corridors bordering their crop fields, but things have changed. GMO crops need more and more sprayings (where they promised there would be less need) and are threatening one of the wonders of our natural world. Droughts and cold fronts play a role in the demise of the Monarch Butterfly migration too. Monsanto carries most all of the blame for the killing of the essential host plants — milkweed.

Fragile life is wiped out or not ever allowed to begin when their host plant milkweed is absent.

Caterpillars never become instars or butterflies without milkweed.

Milkweed is more than just a host plant for the Monarch Butterfly. The dainty falling florets are important sources of nectar for the monarch and many other creatures. We need to recreate the lost habitat for all the life that depends on milkweed, and for the rights of the plants to live as well.

Hummingbirds are great pollinators too. Milkweed is ever giving.

Let's all plant more milkweed by all means, but also we need to call, write and sign petitions to our representatives in Congress and the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, demanding they stop supporting gmo crops and the outrageous use of poisons poured and sprayed over our food and  landscapes.

Perhaps even more importantly, we could act against giants like Monsanto in how we spend our dollars in our daily lives. By asking questions and following our convictions in what we purchase, we can make changes one dollar at a time. One person at a time eventually adds up to millions of dollars not supporting harmful chemical corporations.

I hope we heed this warning of our beloved Monarch Butterflies, and that the decline that has been happening over the last decade will see a turnaround soon. I am fearful, but will persist in hoping that children and adults alike, along the migration route, continue to enjoy observing both the joyous metamorphosis and the incredible migration of the Monarch Butterflies.

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