A Small White Butterfly
A small white butterfly was dancing all around me one day last week. I watched it and tried to photograph it (an impossible task!). In doing so I realized that what it was doing was laying eggs in the weeds of my yard. Now we can’t mow that section of grass for a while.
I looked online and identified the butterfly as a cabbage white. On further reading, I learned that this species is considered invasive. Why is it considered invasive? What plant or animal did it displace? Or is it just because we humans don’t like to see holes in our cabbage?
I will leave it be anyway. I am not trying to grow a vegetable garden and the caterpillars will be good for our neighborhood birds. Besides, I like butterflies.
And for what it’s worth, I don’t mind eating cabbage with holes in it.
Right now my window is open and I am hearing a symphony of bird sounds.
My thoughts, go on and on and on and on and my head is a beautiful place to be inside of.
There is a bit of orange and pink and purple in the sky close to the horizon.
Hello from Above
I heard bird sounds as I was walking through the woods the other day. It began just as I was passing by and so I thought it might be referring to me. It sounded like it was right there behind me, so I stopped and turned to look. At first there was all sound and no bird. I kept looking and finally I saw.
There was a bird head, watching me from the hole of a dead tree! It was a pileated woodpecker. I took a photo, but it was too far to be clear. So I moved in closer, but then the bird head disappeared. I’ll just have to save it in my memory.
One day this spring, Millie and I were walking along through the woods and I stopped to look at this ball that was growing on an oak stem. It was just smaller than a golf ball, but it was fuzzy, like it was made of fluff through and through. I found it very interesting so I took a photo. I stayed and took a few more photos because sometimes I find out later that I didn’t get a clear shot.
Well this flying insect came after me and Millie, buzzed us a little too close and we got the heck out of there! We were moving along at a good pace but the bug kept after us, buzzing around swooping, warning us. Chasing us. Frightening us! We were a good enough way down the path, and we were moving along, but every time we slowed down it would swoop down and buzz us again!
I believe it was some kind of wasp?! We would have been stung for sure if we hadn’t hightailed it out of there. I recognize this as the mother bear instinct to protect her young. We stuck around too long snooping around her fluff ball. She taught us well. We will never do that again!
Muddy Slider Turtle
One day a few weeks ago, I was on my way to Durham when I came across a turtle in the road. I usually don’t stop for turtles because it’s dangerous, but there was very little traffic at the time so I stopped.
She was a slider turtle, at least that’s what I call them. They’re the ones I see sitting on a log in streams and lakes and just about the minute I see them and start to say to myself, “hey, a turtle!” They slide right off the log, right into the water before I even get to the second syllable.
This one was covered in mud and seemed to be just sunning herself. I explained to her how dangerous it is to be in the road. And if she absolutely must cross the road do it as quickly as possible in order to enjoy a long life.
"Who Cooks for You?!"
Lately, I’ve been hearing owls. Night before last they were really loud, like they get when they sound like a pack of wild monkeys.
These are barred owls.
Usually it’s “who cooks for YOU, who cooks for YOU, who cooks for YOU!?”
Only this time it sounded more like a heated discussion. Very enthusiastic! Perhaps they were happy to see each other.
My most recent idea that I am excited about is returning the land of my property to the wild. To me that means as it was before Europeans came to this continent.
We know that before it was deforested the land around here was covered with extremely large trees. That’s obvious. What I’m thinking of now though is not only that, but what was it like on the forest floor?
I have heard stories of midwives going into the woods to find the medicinal herbs that they were looking for. I have a relative in my own ancestry known as Granny Betsy, who did just that on horseback. It must’ve been abundant with herbs! There are still a few herbs present. I am sure that as soon as the trees were cut down, the bright sunlight had a very tragic effect on all of the shade loving plants at the time. And what we have now is a fraction of the botanicals living in the wild that would’ve been there. So yes, I want to know as accurately as possible, what would the forest floor have looked like before deforestation.
Not just the plant life either, when I think back to what it would’ve been like, I think of the soil. It must’ve been rich with probiotics and a world of micro nutrients!
Can we achieve this again?
In our lifetime?
I’d like to try.
I do not make a habit of picking up the turtles that I see on my walks. I believe they would run away like the deer if they could when they see humans. They don’t like these interactions. I want them to know that I am a friend and they can trust me. So I refrain from handling them. You would not put your hands on a friend in order to examine them, would you? Especially when you just met! I will greet a turtle - or any other animal I come across for that matter - and then take my photos and say goodbye. That’s just being polite. I don’t otherwise take photos of potential friends that I’ve just met, but I am a turtle enthusiast and advocate in addition to being a turtle friend.
Since the pandemic, I’ve been keeping a record of all the box turtles that I see in my neighborhood and there have been many. When I see one, I compare it with the photos I’ve already taken, and often I realize that we’ve met before. You see, each eastern box turtle has unique markings on its shell, kind of like a fingerprint. When I realized this, I began to photograph them straight from the top of the shell. This makes accurate identification easier. So far I have seen four turtles this year, three repeats and one new one!
Please remember, if you are going to be more like a scientist and handle the turtles, be sure to wash your hands, they really do carry salmonella. And always put them back exactly where you found them.
Alice Turtle part two
Yesterday I went for my usual walk, hoping to come across Alice turtle and who do you think I saw along the path? Well, I couldn’t believe it. There she was. It was as if she was waiting for me. So I greeted her and I explained that I had to pick her up and turn her over and take photos of her underside, and that no harm would come to her. I told her that I had been in contact with someone at the Turtle Rescue Team (at NC State) and they asked me to do this in order to gather information so that they might advise me as to what is causing her condition and whether anything can be done to improve it. After telling her what I was going to do I followed through as stated. Then I said, “I’m going to put you down now” and so I did and after one more photo I said goodbye to Alice turtle and continued my walk with Millie, who has come to expect delays like this.
A Turtle Called Alice
There is a turtle who lives near me whom I call Alice. I’m not sure if Alice is male or female, but she is the only turtle that I have named so far and I have met many. Alice the turtle has condition or something. Some of her scutes are chipped, and one or two are missing altogether. I messaged someone at the turtle rescue at NC State. They said it may be a fungus. They want me to send them a photo of her underbelly so they can know for sure.
Okay I can do that. I’ll do it next time I see Alice turtle. Though I have no idea when that might be. I see her when I see her. Usually on the morning after a good rain, especially on a day that it’s going to be hot. That’s the best time to see a box turtle. I believe they are going around looking for water. They also love it a few days after a good rain, when the mushrooms come out.
Turtles love mushrooms!