Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Northern Water Snake

April 23, 2013

Cleaning brush along our creek I had this guy strike and bite, just got the pants and broke no skin. The snake was quite aggravated and aggressive. At first I thought it was a copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), but after review I decided it was a Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon).


A few days later I came across two of them in the same location. One was brighter than the other and both were about the same size. Guess I better keep the grandkids out of that area.


Active Little Ruffians

April 10, 2011

I spent some time today watching the birdfeeder. The camera was mounted on a tripod and I was ready. The Red-Breasted Nuthatches (Sitta canadensis) were quite busy grabbing food and defending THEIR feeder.

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Whenever other birds approached the feeder the nuthatches were quite diligent in chasing them away. They especially had a thing about the chicadees and chased them back into the nearby forest. I also had a nuthatch leave the feeder and circle my head a couple of times when I walked too close. While at the feeder, the nuthatches sent seed flying while searching for a special morsel.

Nuthatch sending seed flying

It usually did not take long for the nuthatches to find the particular seed they sought. This particular fellow chose a sunflower seed. He flew off with it to a nearby hickory where he broke into the seed – yummm!

Nuthatch with a sunflower seed

The birds that seemed to be most successful with the nuthatches were the Chipping Sparrows (Spizella passerina). The sparrows would move in quickly while the nuthatches flew off with their seeds, quickly grabbed a seed, and took off before attack ensued. The sparrows also discovered the treasure trove of seed on the ground. The Dark-Eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis) seemed willing to share the grounded seeds as long as the sparrows kept their distance.

Chipping Sparrow


September 25, 2009

It is a lazy, rainy day at the cabin. A barred owl visited around noon. It sat in the shagbark hickory next to Backyard Run and overlooking the bird feeder. We are wondering if it is the reason we have been observing fewer birds and squirrels at the feeder lately. The owl left before we could get a picture. Luckily, it returned to the hemlock overlooking the pool in Backyard Run (the creek behind our cabin has no names associated with it on any of the maps we have seen so I named it Backyard Run). I managed a few pictures from the back door with the camera lens fully extended. After a few minutes and pictures, it flew down into Backyard Run where we could not see it. Following a 10 to 20 second wait the owl came out of the creek with some critter hanging from its talons and it flew off into the forest. The picture of it and its catch did not focus.BarredOwl1

Don’t Worry – Just an Orb Weaver

September 22, 2009
I found this Mottled Orb Weaver (Araneus marmoreus) in the shed eaves at the cabin. Not knowing what kind of spider it was, I bravely approached with camera in hand. I had little worry since my U. S. Government Health Care Plan provides me with top-notch medical care (the same one enjoyed by conservative congressmen and Senators while denying the same to those without – seriously!). I have since found out that it’s venom is of little concern to humans.
I think all would agree it is a colorful, cute creature. It eats bugs too!

Smorgasbord Will be Served Soon

April 5, 2009
It is getting kind of ridiculous. The deer visiting us have invited some more family and friends. Now we have six of the critters visiting us every evening. Pickings are a bit limited right now. But, they need not worry as our flowers and vegetables will be ready for their dining pleasure soon. Damned deer! 

Six White-Tailed Deer

Red Heads

March 22, 2009
Some of our favorite redheads have been visiting lately. True to stereotype, they tend to be a bit feisty. The first, a red-headed woodepecker, visits our suet feeder and then heads to the birdbath for liquid refreshment. The other, a pileated woodpecker, has been busy tearing up our apple tree, and as shown in this picture, the sassafras trees behind the shop. We are always happy for visits from these redheads.

Red-Headed Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

That’s Using the Old Noggin

February 7, 2009
I was out measuring streamflow today in Greenbrier County with a coworker and a WVU geology graduate student when we ran into a need for something to hold our measuring tape in place out of the stream. A deer skull lying on the stream bank proved to be just the thing.



Don’t Worry – Nap

November 11, 2008
While driving home from the cabin today Susan and I happened upon these sleeping pigs. The temperature had reached 18 degrees F this morning and it was not much above freezing when we took this picture. The sun was out and they seemed quite comfortable on their mud beds. I guess all is well as long as one ear points to the sky!

Thinking Through My Office Window

September 23, 2008

Today, while staring out my office window and pondering thoughtful comments regarding a paper I am reviewing for a scientific journal, I noticed the spooky arrangement that stares back at me every day. Disregard the dirty window – my office window is about 20 feet off of the ground and the janitor is afraid of heights so it has not been cleaned in some time. The spider web is a recent addition and grows daily. The deer skull (the one with antlers!) was found several years ago while I was tramping about the woods in Greenbrier County, WV looking for karst features. The antlers were entwined in a woven wire fence and the deer had rotted away long before my arrival. It must have been an agonizing death. The larger skull, on the left, with the dark brown teeth, belonged to a beaver. I found that one a few years ago in the bed of the Greenbrier River in West Virginia. That portion of the river flows across cavernous limestone and during that severly dry year the river disappeared underground for about a mile and a half. The skull lay among the rocks along the channel bottom. The smaller skull sitting on the beaver skull belonged to a very common species – the road kill groundhog.

Ok, back to work on the paper review.

Slug Feast

August 7, 2008
This mushroom has been providing fodder for a number of slugs. This slug was chowing down with a great deal of determination. Close examination reveals another slug almost entirely inside the base of the mushroom.