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Archive for August, 2007

My dear old dad, that is! You see, while trying to install this little clip (I placed a dime in the image as a reference for its size) into a slot at the end of a horn rod in a 1930 Ford Model A, apparently, it slipped out of my father’s hands and “flung” …

blogclip.jpg   somewhere in here!

bloggarage1.jpg   Then again, maybe it was in here!

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Sure, accidents happen, but then he asked my mom and me if we’d help him look for it in all of this! He just couldn’t be serious!

Perhaps it was the look of shock in our faces, but, before either my mother or I could utter a word, he suddenly remembered that he had purchased a spare some time ago and, amazingly I might add, found it in our cellar! (The top image is of the spare clip.)

Now, I must admit that it would ultimately take three sets of hands and about two hours of time, but, we finally succeeded in getting that little son-of-a-gun of a clip into the slot where it belonged!

Then, FINALLY, after all that, wouldn’t you know it, … right there, … on top of that drab green colored engine block (barely visible in the image), … would sit the original clip just as if it had been placed there on purpose!

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I really am feeling a bit embarrassed by all of this; after all, I see this post every single day. But it really wasn’t until the last time I filled the feeders and the post wobbled. It was then that I stepped back and took notice of the way in which the post had begun to lean, somewhat like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, ready to fall over at any moment. I was, naturally, alarmed simply because I don’t want that to happen when a bird or even a squirrel is peacefully eating seed. I don’t care to hurt any creature.

feederpostblog.jpgBut in my own defense, from the vantage point of the window where I see this post, or, more accurately, where I watch the birds at the feeders, it is not leaning quite as severely as it is in the photo. Still, I’m normally a very observant person; I should have noticed.

In part, too, I’m feeling guilty because I know I have myself to blame, at least for the wobble. I should have used pressure treated wood but, instead, chose to use fir. I did apply a clear wood preservative and set the post in cement but that was, obviously, not enough. The lean, however, is another story. It’s because of the constant pounding that the post takes from squirrels that launch themselves from a nearby maple tree; a tree that I had planted some years back but had no idea that it would grow so fast! The tree just didn’t seem to be all that close to the post … well, at least not back then!

What I’d really love though, is to get some video images of the squirrels approach and launch to the feeders. They are so much fun to watch; after all, squirrels are incredible acrobats! The post is approximately 10 feet from the trunk of the tree but, early last year, the branches overhung the feeders creating an easy walk to the feeders for the squirrels. So, one by one, I cut back the branches to the trunk of the tree and, one by one, the squirrels would find another branch to use. My poor maple tree now looks a bit lopsided but, finally, there were no more branches for the squirrels to use and I felt certain that my squirrel problem was over … that is, until one day when there sat a squirrel, looking quite proud of itself, at the very top of the post! After scaring it off the post several times but to no avail, I decided to watch and see its new approach. I figured it was another branch that I would just trim back some more, however, I figured wrong. The little devil scurried up the trunk then perched in a crotch that was almost level with the top of the post. Then, setting its feet against the limb and concentrating its gaze at the top of the post, the squirrel makes one giant leap for squirrelkind and lands on the post, sometimes a little precariously, but, nevertheless, hanging on with obvious feelings of great satisfaction. (There are occasions, too, when the little devil overshoots the post! I can’t help but laugh out loud when that happens.)

Still, funny as it may be to watch the squirrels’ antics, it is also a bit frustrating because 1) they won’t leave the poor birds alone and 2) they empty the feeders far faster than the birds are capable of doing. Thus, I had in mind to move the post anyway but, because of the wobble and lean, I guess my someday project just got moved to the top of my list instead!

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All I wanted to know was what specie of bee did I just photograph and yet, for all the information that is posted on the Internet, why then should it be so hard to find an accurate answer to a question that, to my mind at least, should not be all that difficult to answer? Well, as it so happens, most of the answers I would eventually get would not come from the Internet but rather from plain old fashioned books that were already in my possession!

The thing is this, I’ve been a birder for so long that I know many songbird and duck species without the aid of any reference source. In recent years, I’ve begun to know some flower species both wild and domestic and even a few butterfly species. However, when it comes to most insects, in this case bees, I know that I lack a clear or strong familiarization with specific species. So, after taking photos (some posted below) of bees collecting nectar from my Echinacea (Purple Cone flower), I wanted to positively identify the specie of bee so that I might accurately label my photos. I admit that I’m a stickler for this but never in a million years did I think that this would pose that big a problem because, as I had figured all along, I would just look it up on the Internet. Right? Well, not so fast!

Okay, sure, there are about a million images of bees posted on the Internet and I wasn’t about to look at every one of them. But, I also noticed that the vast majority of images are simply labeled “bees” or, at best, “honeybees.” Apparently, to many a photographer, the label “bee” is adequate or the label “honeybee” is enough to cover just about every bee in existence! Then again, if there’s even the slightest degree of accuracy in all of those images, I guess I know now that my bees are not honeybees. But then, what are they?

So, after failing to get answers from the Internet, I turned instead to a photograph in one of those books in my collection that was written by a professional photographer (Larry West with Julie Ridl, How to Photograph Insects & Spiders, Stackpole Books, PA, 1994, cover and p. 55). There I found an image similar to mine except that West’s bee is sitting on a Thistle flower rather than a Purple Cone flower and in the caption, the photographer has labeled his bee a “bumblebee.” Alright! Then I found a description of a bumblebee in one of my field guides that says “robust, hairy, generally 15-25 mm., and black with yellow (rarely orange) markings” (Borror and White, Insects of America North of Mexico, [a Roger Tory Peterson Field Guide], Easton Press, CT, 1984, p. 360). Okay, my bees are hairy, black with yellow markings though, there’s no way in h _ _ _ that I’m going to try to measure one of them, to my eyes at least, they appear to be a bit small. Still, if I “favor” the 15 mm. size then they do appear to be bumblebees.bumblebeebloga.jpg

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The Real Point

Now, please don’t get me wrong, I still love the Internet and find it to be a great source of information. Yet, the unfortunate fact remains that too much of the information that gets posted is either incomplete and/or inaccurate. Perhaps this is a consequence of our need or desire to be seen and heard. Still, the Internet, in my view, is a great place to start answering your questions or even to determine what kinds of other sources are available. In other words, it’s a great place for an overview of sorts but, for accurate answers, nothing beats the kind of printed material that you can hold in your hands and study at your leisure; nothing, and I mean nothing beats a good book!

Note: Although I have placed a copyright notice on my photographs, please feel free to use them as you wish. All that I ask is that you give credit where credit is due!

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