Comet Pan-STARRS from Ontario

I almost froze my fingers getting this picture of the first naked-eye comet of 2013; Pan-STARRS.  It’s only -6°C outside but a nasty north wind with it.  It wasn’t quite dark enough, so not a great shot, but a few minutes later a solitary cloud came and hid it.  The sky was clear except for a thin band of cloud on the horizon and no time to go far enough to get the cloud out of line-of-sight before the comet followed the setting sun below the horizon.  Just a few more days and it won’t be visible again from earth for 10,000 years.

Comet Pan-STARRs
Comet Pan-STARRs

Let’s hope that ISON gives us a good show in November and that we get good viewing weather.

Always wear a mask in dusty workplaces

Like this Hairy Woodpecker, who filters out the sawdust when hammering at trees.

Hairy Woodpecker head
Hairy Woodpecker head

I forgot to provide napkins, which is why he hasn’t wiped the suet crumb from his beak.

Although we’re getting a few days of warmer temperatures during the day, we’re still getting frost at night.  I caught this shot of one of our crab apples just before the sun burned off the frost.

Frosty crab apple
Frosty crab apple

 

Turkey movie

We have been putting food on the ground for the juncoes and other ground feeders.  Since we’ve been getting a fair bit of snow, it kept getting covered up so I would put out some more.  Today we got a flock of twenty turkeys (all female at this time of year), who are big enough to dig through the layers and clean it all out.  I thought I’d try my hand at video – hand-held since I was afraid if I took the time to set up a tripod, they would be gone. Click the link to launch.

Turkeys in Motion

Turkey
Turkey
Turkey
Turkeys
Iridescent turkey
Iridescent turkey
Turkeys
Turkeys
Turkey
Turkey

It’s a long time to Thanksgiving so these guys are relatively safe except that I heard the coyotes singing on Sunday night and Carol saw a wolf today.

P.S. to Hibiscus Study

The pale hibiscus which I showed, that hadn’t opened for several weeks, finally opened.  I had to cut it to be able to take the picture so that must have triggered the belated opening.  It opened quite slowly, so I was also able to get this picture and unlike most hibiscus flowers which usually last 24 to 48 hours, this one has lasted three days already and showing no signs of fading.

Hibiscus unfurling
Hibiscus unfurling

Tiny Domestic Animals

Not domesticated – just found in the house and not all welcome guests.

Some animals were harmed during this photo-shoot!

I was not the only one hunting insects on this safari.  This ladybird (ladybug for North Americans) is of course not a bird or a bug, but a beetle.

Ladybird
Ladybird

It was presumably hunting for one of these pests, though too dumb to look on the plants.

Aphids on Taro
Aphids on Taro
Mealy bug
Mealy bug with fluffy nest

The fluffy nest hides them from predators – otherwise they are soft and slow and an easy meal.

I had these scale insects, below, on one orchid plant for years and didn’t even know they were insects – just brown lumps on the leaves and they never moved or multiplied.  But two years ago, they started breeding and now I have to spend a lot of time killing them because otherwise they just cover and kill entire plants in a few weeks.  The large brown one is a mature insect and would probably never have moved again (if I hadn’t squished it).  The small ones crawl off to another spot and then grow the hard, waxy protective shell.

Scale insect on orchid
Scale insect on orchid

There are a few more predators around.  This assassin bug has a sharp beak that it uses to pierce its victim.  They’re stinky if you scare them or squish them.  It is a “true bug” in entomology – as are the aphids, scales and mealy bugs, so this was a family photo-shoot (technically, “Order shoot”, since the bugs are members of the Order Hemiptera), except for the beetle (Order Coleoptera, God’s favourite according to Haldane).

Assassin bug
Assassin bug

The last “bug” I found today was from a completely different Phylum.

Daddy-long-legs spider
Daddy-long-legs spider

Just hangin’ out, waiting for dinner to serve itself.