Tag Archives: Nature

Toady, quite Toady

This is the second of two toads I’ve managed to “save” from my basement window wells in the last two days. Yesterday’s toad was quite large, bigger than the palm of my hand, but this guy seems to be a bit of a youngster:

I’ll be checking the window wells on a daily basis to avoid any toad deaths.

I’m delighted that we have toads in our little garden 🙂

Projects and Little Critters

I’ve commenced with the annual task of sanding down the table that is on my porch. Every year, there’s quite a difference between the aged, weathered surface and the lovely wood hiding underneath.

Now, yesterday, I discovered an entire “clump” of freshly hatched, teensy tiny spiders in one of my geranium boxes:

And thanks to all of the sanding dust I created, I discovered a very intricate, very tiny spider web created on the other side of the porch by one of those very tiny spiders:

It’s the little discoveries in life that make me happy.

Things in the Woods

I went to a place yesterday where I often go, when looking for butterflies and other insects and crawly things. It’s basically a very small meadow with lots of wild flowers, located in the midst of a large forest. I used to go there often, but the few times I did make it up there last year, it made me cry, because it’s one of the many “Tobi places”.

The trip yesterday was worth it. There were hardly any insects (there aren’t very many insects anymore). When I think about how my windshield USED to look after a longer drive and how it looks now, I think I could drive to Hamburg and back and maybe have three dead flies on the windshield upon coming home. Thank you pesticides and thank you herbicides, decimating the desperately needed variety of plants to sustain life, insects and birds, whose populations have also been decimated here in the last 15 years or so.

There were also few butterflies, probably because there are hardly any flowering plants this early in the year.

But I did see this:

Blindschleiche (Angius fragilis)


It looks like an itty bitty tiny little snake, but it isn’t. It’s a wonderful little (about 50 cm long) lizard that happens to be without limbs. It’s called a “Slow worm” or “Blind worm” and the Wikipedia article about it can be found here.

It’s native to Eurasia only, and it’s the first time I’ve seen a live one. I was quite excited. They have teensy tiny little scales and are wonderfully smooth to touch.

We got this little guy off of the logging road where he was sunning himself and back into the grassy meadow, where he won’t get runover.

Oh Marten

There have always been martens on and around the property, and though I am fully aware that they like the taste of some rubber automotive parts, they’ve never touched one of my cars. So, when I checked the fluid levels this morning, I made a suprising finding.

On the underside of the hood, there is a mat attached, for thermoprotective purposes, I guess. There have been holes in it before, which I’ve always contributed to mice in the past.

This morning, the holes were a bit larger and there was a huge hose laying in there:


It’s about 35 cm long and I looked and looked, but have no idea where it is supposed to go. The engine ran fine for my small trip to the grocery store, the heating worked (thank goodness, we had 14F this morning).

Here’s the hose in its entirety.

I was able to do a internet search on the part number, but all that told me that its a “hose”. Duh. Looking through most of the 700 page repair manual for my car also revealed nothing. So, I’m off to my trusty mechanic on Monday.

Martens, sheesh.

Things in the Woods

that I saw today. No mushrooms though. We got the necessary rain over the entire weekend, but I think especially the plunge of our night time temperatures has slimmed the chance of any more mushrooms.

The beautiful base of a beech tree.
A very large frog - as large as my hand. He peed on me when I picked him up.
A very large frog – as large as my hand.
He peed on me when I picked him up.

PSA: Birds Flying Into Panes

I feed the birds in the yard all year round, and so there are a lot of blackbirds, chickadees, and tons of sparrows in the yard at any given time.

Sometimes they get confused and fly into a window pane. They can obviously break their necks doing that, but mostly they are just stunned and after taking a short break, recover enough to continue on.

Because of where the bird feeding place is located, the birds are most likely to (and most often did) fly into my dining room window on the north side. I discovered a very simple way to stop them doing that. Just put a couple of PostIts on the outside of the pane, and they realize that there is a pane there and stop flying into it. It’s simple, and it works.

If you’re having a particularly boring day, you can play “find Karen in the picture”. 😉

Since I’ve put those there, not a single bird has flown into the pane.

Small tip: if a bird does fly into your window pane and is very rattled or stunned, place a towel inside a cardboard box, but the bird in it, and cover it with a towel to darken the box. Place the box in a dark and quiet corner of a room and wait 30-60 minutes. It will give the bird a chance to calm down. Usually after this time, the bird will be ok to be released back into the wild.

This post has been inspired by Maribeth, who sent me some awesome pictures and a really cool story about a cooper’s hawk that crashed into her window this weekend, and was kind enough to spend time on the A/C unit, posing for pictures, before he flew off again. Maybe she’ll post those pictures.

It’s Mushroom Time

That means spending lots of time wandering around in the woods. I did 5 km worth of that yesterday, and netted enough for a decent meal for three persons.

Why do I bother? Because forest mushrooms have a taste way beyond anything of those which are available for purchase in a grocery store.

Even if I don’t find anything, I enjoy being in the woods. I love the smells, the way the sunlight finds its way through the trees, and the feeling of soft, mossy forest floor under my feet.

I went out this morning to do a quick check of another spot in the woods, and on the way home, I encountered these.

I’ve no idea what’s up with these cows. They’re funny.cows

Gonepteryx rhamni

(known as the common brimstone) is a butterfly of the Pieridae family. It lives in Europe, North Africa and Asia. Across much of its range, it is the only species of its genus, and is therefore simply known locally as the brimstone. The name “butterfly” is believed to have originated from the brimstone — which was called the butter-coloured fly by early British naturalists. (Source: Wikipedia)

Common Brimstone

C’est la vie

I was just taking a tea break in the sun by the pond, when a lot of commotion broke out in the large fig tree that is adjacent to the pond.

I didn’t pay much attention, figuring that a couple of sparrows or chickadees were fighting (which occurs, on occasion). When I turned to have a good look, a sparrow hawk emerged from the fig, sat in the grass for a moment, grasping what appeared to be a sparrow in his claws and then swiftly took flight.

A year ago, I would have been angry about this. Meanwhile, I’ve rethought my position. First of all, I’d rather a hungry sparrow hawk gets one of the birds in the garden than an overfed housecat who is just looking for the fun of the kill; second, it’s just the way of nature.