Friday, November 12, 2010

Meadow Management!

This lower meadow has been in place for over 5 years providing a rich habitat for numerous birds, insects, rabbits and deer as well as the predators, such as the red-tailed hawks, crows and fox that frequent the area. Its lies next to a wetlands area and consists largely of goldenrod, multiflora rose, grasses and some fern on the outer edges. It is a dynamic space, beautiful to observe and enjoy. To maintain it as a meadow and not to allow it to succeed to a forest, it needs to be mowed or bushwacked periodically, but when? 

After a call to Laura at Bucks Country Gardens for some guidance, she sent to me a very helpful document but with very conflicting information. If done in the fall or early winter, the mowing could weaken the growth of goldenrod and asters, or reduce the chances of plants surviving the winter due to the soil freeze thaw cycles. During the winter many flower species grow actively and would reduce weeds from germinating. Mowing in the fall also eliminates winter shelters for wildlife but would help reduce the mice population. 
On the other hand, mowing in early spring, the concern is damaging regrowth and reemerging plants and coinciding with red wing birds nesting. The weather may also be too wet or the meadow might be encased in ice as last year. 
As you can see, we chose to do it in the fall due to our concerns with spring weather and the emerging of new plants and nesting birds. 

The deer emerged just minutes after it was completed looking a bit dazed and confused. We left a portion around the bees to protect them from the northern winds and a section around the Sweetgums to provide some shelter for the birds and deer.  It is so bare and we are already counting the days to spring.

It is an experiment and time will tell.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Early Morning Sighting!

Frequently, we have a herd of about 11 does and rarely do we ever spot a buck. It is rutting season now though and every once in awhile we catch a glimpse. This one I caught early in the morning before the sun peaked over the evergreens. There is a younger one with just wee little horns too. They are very proud but cautious and seem to know to keep a low profile and rarely are seen mingling with the herd openly.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What a line - a dragline, I mean!

About a month ago, I was walking and observed this extremely long spider’s dragline dangling over the driveway. My husband had just drove speedily under it and it was still swaying in the breeze.

It reached from the top of a Sweetgum tree, over the driveway and then to a Norway Spruce, meandered through the branches and then up to the beautiful web, as pictured here. I was amazed, quickly ran home and grabbed a measuring tape and camera. It measured over 20 feet long. I wanted to learn more - how could it still be intact?

A spider makes a new web daily and uses a dragline for making the web's outer rim and spokes as well as for a lifeline. Spider silk, made of proteins, has a tensile strength comparable to high grade steel and is very stretchable and has a high toughness similar to nylon. It is so amazing that labs all over the world are carefully studying its composition and mechanics in hopes of reproducing it someday for human needs. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Changing Seasons.

This blog was created over a year ago and with each season I like to post a new picture to capture the new changes and colors of the meadow. This entry is a summary of all the headers for this year and a celebration of the seasons. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hovering Maniac!

For the past 2 weeks I have observed small greenish birds hovering around the golden rod and eating its seeds. And I mean - HOVERING! I found the bird in the Peterson Field Guide on Eastern Birds, on the "Confusing Fall Warblers" page. I recognized it immediately with its broken eye ring and greenish color and wing bands - its a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula), not a warbler at all. In Lives of North American Birds by K. Kaufman, this Kinglet is described as a conifer dweller but at this time of year it is migrating through stopping for food in woods and stream side thickets, exactly where I found this active and little excitable guy. It usually eats insects but also will eat berries and seeds even nectar while migrating.