Monday, November 30, 2009

Handiwork of the Carpenter Bee

I'd walked by this White Pine many a time over the past year and sometimes stopped to ponder the perfectly round holes. Too perfect for a bird, almost like a power drill, the answer came from articles in Val Littlewood's Pencil and Leaf blog. Thanks Val! :-) Do check out her wonderful and growing series of bees!

Don't the Carpenters perform a fine job? Notice how they work through each annual ring, through the harder and softer parts of each year's growth.

Just to give an idea of actual size...

Here's a bit of frass left over after construction. What didn't come through that well was a whitish material that I suspect was blocking off some inner chambers. (It shows up rather fuzzy here.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I nearly passed by these whitish lichens growing on Swamp Maple as I placed most interest on the blues and greens. Pulling in closely revealed something like a moonscape of tiny growths and craters. It's not clear to me how many different species might be included here.

Here are the lichens that originally captured my eye. I particularly wanted this shot as it showed at least two species. I noticed how not only the coloring differed but the leaf-like growth structures as well.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Leaf Fossils

Well, not exactly fossils, but that's what they remind me of. The fallen leaves on my little dirt road, after repeatedly being rain-soaked and then run down by the local traffic, are well flattened and skeletonized.

Friday, November 27, 2009


With recent warm nights, the moths have been out in force. That is all I know about them. During a Thanksgiving afternoon stroll, I came upon this little one who paused in its fluttering long enough for a few poses. It seems to prefer the upside down hang.

In my cursory review of moths, I found that one can set a moth trap to harmlessly collect species for study and photos. Wheels within wheels...

Tomorrow I will try something a bit different. It's my first try at "Leaf Fossils" so it's more like the sketching stage but I'd like to be a bit daring and just put it out there.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

My Google Analytics statistics tell me that Nuncketest is quite suddenly attracting a strong international readership. So today as I wish all a Happy Thanksgiving, I must be sensitive to that fact. Thanksgiving, its origin, development, and conflict, is well documented on the web.

But when Americans speak of Thanksgiving, the question that always comes up is "Where are you going?" This is raised as an assurance that each person has friends and/or family to spend time with on this holiday. It's a time to express warmth and love. It's a time to give thanks for all we have. It's a holiday that brings out the best in people.

It is in this spirit that I extend my Happy Thanksgiving wish to you. May you have extra peace, warmth, and love in your life today.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Climbing False Buckwheat

Like many recent posts, Climbing False Buckwheat has made a previous appearance. It's probably one of the few remaining species holding some late color.

From The Wayside Flowers of Summer:

"A conspicuous weed climbing that has found the modern wire fence admirably adapted to its needs and shares it with the Wild Morning-Glory. It is, moreover, capable of shouldering its way through the bushes of a thicket and displaying its flowering racemes in profusion in the sunlight at the top. When no other support offers, it spreads itself over a square rod or so of ground and holds up its fruiting racemes to light and air. It is a capable, efficient, and successful weed. The leaves are usually halberd-shaped, the points of base and apex making an attractive form; the racemes are rather more conspicuous in fruit than in flower, and the bright, shining, Buckwheat-like seeds are full of food for the birds. They remain on the stems until cold weather comes or the birds remove them."

Keeler, Harriet Louise. The Wayside Flowers of Summer. New York, 1917. 39-40. Web. Google Book Search. 24 Nov 2009.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bird's Nest and Egg

For a while now I have been collecting birds' nests photos. (It's getting much easier now with the bare trees!) I mentioned this to a friend and was encouraged into the treetops for those top down shots. Being rather jittery with heights and averse to sudden crashes through the branches, I thought I'd stay put on the ground and do my best from there.

Lo and behold, my wish (or was that hers?) was answered. Laying on the ground right in front of me on my way home path was this beautiful little nest, complete with egg!

Not until I pick up a copy of Petersons Eastern Birds' Nests will I have an ID. That is, unless someone can help out here? The egg is 3/4" long by 1/2" wide. It's white and it's not clear to me if there is some dark brown speckling or if it's dirt. If it is speckling, it's neither prominent nor plentiful. I was unable to scrape it off--the delicate shell was crumbling under even a light touch.

Monday, November 23, 2009


You know those days when you just feel chilled? With sundown coming so early, I don't get out for after-work shooting. So although that does put the pressure on to get out on weekends, this chilly Sunday I opted for a short ride to the back of the lake for a bit of Meadowsweet.

First a couple of shots for that chilled mood...

I was so pleased to find Meadowsweet still holding leaves and the seed pods in various states of change, and glad I made the effort, even though I could have been content to stay in, warm and cozy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mullein Gone By

This Mullein plant has completed its two year cycle. There are lots of these standing dried spikes around the lake. The first year basal leaves are already beginning to take on their faded green color. More on them another time.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tree Fungus

This fungus grows on a standing stump, all that is left of a rotted oak that blew over last year. No identification at this time. I tried poking about the web without results and my library doesn't get into fungi, not yet anyway. Ah yes, another good reason for a new book. :-)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Herring Gull

I found it a bit unusual the way this Herring Gull, Larus argentatus, kept circling in close until...

... it got scared off on its first landing...

... but scored nicely on the second try.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Black Locust

Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, stands in a few locations around the lake. As we move into bare tree seasons, I'm hoping to spend some time with bark, twigs, and buds. Guides using only these properties express great confidence with identifications. I will be taking the opportunity to work with lighting to better express depth and hopefully offer uncommon perspectives.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Swamp Rose

Here's Swamp Rose, Rosa palustris. I think this is the same plant from earlier this year. I am pleased to say that unlike R. multiflora, this species is not on the Massachusetts Invasive Plant List. :-)

Commenters will notice a change. Instead of the on page comment window, a popup window will now open. I have been experiencing many instances when my comments do not save, disappearing into nothingness with no message at all. It appears to be based in using the Firefox browser to comment, although comment failure is not consistent. Each time I've had trouble, Goggle Chrome came through just fine.

I had earlier reports of comment failure but couldn't research a problem that I couldn't reproduce. I've since found reports that indicate that Firefox can be the problem. Also reports that in line Blogger comments can be a problem.

If anyone has any comment troubles, please email me and I'll get back on this. My apologies for the inconvenience.