Wood orchids opening

Some close-ups of the unassuming wood orchids, growing about 30m (=yards) from my house

They are just starting to open.  Luckily, I found a few growing just 30m from the house, along with some of the Indian Pipe I showed last week.  Here is a view of a couple of the plants, followed by some close-ups.  They are nothing special until you get close.  The “whole plant” shot is hard to make out the plant at all – I made several attempts before I got one where you could make out the whole plant against the green background of the pines but once close up, you see the flowers that attracted several insects in the few minutes it took me to take the pictures.  I had to use my new tripod as the light is not good in the forest.

Wood orchid
Wood orchid – whole plants
Wood orchid closeup 1
Wood orchid closeup 1
Wood orchid closeup 2
Wood orchid closeup 2

 

 

How do you measure the temperature inside a slice of bacon?

I couldn’t figure out how to get my meat thermometer probes inside a slice of bacon to measure the internal temperature.

I just happened to glance at the instructions on my packet of bacon this morning and it advised me to “Cook Thoroughly To An Internal Temperature of 165ºF (74ºC)”

Somehow I couldn’t figure out how to get my meat thermometer probes inside a slice of bacon, so the instructions weren’t too useful:

Bacon
Bacon with meat thermometer

A walk in the woods

A walk in the woods with flowers (parasitic and otherwise) a butterfly and other interesting arthropods.

I went for a walk in the woods yesterday.  Here are some pictures from along the way.

For Laurie’s benefit, since she hasn’t been able to get across the two logs I use for a bridge, for several years, here is what it looks like now. (Much the same but quite a few trees blown down).

Cedar woods
Cedar woods

These are mostly new-growth Eastern Red Cedar.  There are a few much bigger ones and the clearings are starting to show some hardwood.

There are lots of woodpeckers around. Most of the evidence (apart from the living woodpeckers) comes from round holes in rotting trees. But this tree is still alive and got square holes:

Square holes
Square holes

As the dead trees rot, the fungus start to turn them back to usable soil.  These have a gruesome name:

Dead man's fingers
Dead man’s fingers

These flowers (not open yet, I’ll look again later) manage to reverse the parasitism – they take nourishment from the fungi and so don’t need chlorophyll to get energy from light.

Indian Pipe
Indian Pipe

They are members of the heather family.

I was looking for these to be in flower – they looked almost ready last week.  I’ll have to wait again.  They are like the Indian Pipe in shape, and grow in almost the same place, but seem able to get energy from light.

Small woodland orchid
Small woodland orchid

In the wild-flower meadows on the other side of the forest, I found this fearsome predator hiding under a leaf, presumably hiding from me.

Comb-legged spider
Comb-legged spider : Enoplognatha ovata

In the picture above, it had just started coming out of hiding (pressed up against the leaf).  It continued down its web:

Comb-legged spider
Comb-legged spider : Enoplognatha ovata

Also in the meadow was this White Admiral, looking a bit the worse for wear, though it is probably bird damage or storm damage – it is too big for this small spider.

White Admiral butterfly
White Admiral butterfly

 

Grackle flock

Flocks of grackles from Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and mother woodpecker feeding peanuts to baby

We have had a few grackles, in family groups, in our garden recently.  I posted some pictures recently.  In the last few days, they have started flocking.  They cleaned out all the food in our feeders in a few minutes.  It looked like a scene from Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.

Grackles
Grackles flocking on our lawn

Fortunately, they fly away when disturbed.  There must have been several hundred in the maple tree opposite our dining room window.

The woodpeckers have not yet got to the stage where the young are independent.  Although this “baby” is as big as its mother, it does not yet have the skill to land easily on the peanut feeder (though it can do it easily enough on a tree branch) and even when it does succeed, it can’t get peanuts out by itself.  So it perches on top and begs until mother reaches up and hands it one (or “beaks” it one).

Woodpecker feeding juvenile
Woodpecker feeding juvenile

 

Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed as one of these – nor Lady Gaga

These lilies work pretty hard to get their glory

The bible quotation of course is about ‘the lilies of the field’ which really just referred to flowers. But here are some real lilies from my garden:

Day lilies
Day lilies
Asiatic lilies
Asiatic lilies

Although we have had a few lily beetles, so far they have not destroyed the lilies; I’ve been able to control them by picking them off and squishing them.

Although the biblical quotation includes the text “they toil not, neither do they spin”, they have to work hard to fight off pests, usually by stepping up their production of toxins when they are bitten and it takes them lots of energy to generate those beautiful flowers.  If you take a closer look at their cells and meristems, you will see lots of work going on.