Archive for February, 2013

Orbs and an Ice Storm

I couldn’t stay inside one night last week after many hours of rain, sleet and an ice storm. The temperature had warmed enough that a rain/sleet mix fell when I went out.

I had to stay on the front porch because of the ice.

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The trees limited my areas for photographing orbs.  All the tiny “sparks” were rain, and there are 3 orbs on the left. The orbs didn’t show until after the pictures were taken.

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I went through the house to the side door. There’s no awning there. All I could do was stick my hand out under the corner of the screen where the cats use to go outside. I held my left hand over the camera to keep it dry.

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 The side door gave me 2 angles for taking pictures.

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 The orb near the orange outside light was moving, leaving a trail behind it. This shows it’s not rain, because it was going upward, not down. I have no explanation for the 3 tiny, side-by-side what looks like tiny moving orbs (to the right and up some from the moving orb). I found them in 2 of the 56 pictures I took.

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The two large dim orbs might’ve been from a different kind of spirit, or  maybe emanated this way for a reason. Small orbs appeared in pairs in some of these pictures. They do this often, and I assume it’s to let me be sure they’re not rain drops catching the camera’s flash.IMG_1466 red

One thing about taking orb pictures is surprise of what’s in the picture after it’s taken. A picture can be full of orbs, and the next one of the same area taken immediately after usually has none or very few.

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Notice how many paired orbs are in this picture.

By this time I was getting cold. I hadn’t exactly dressed right for all this fun.

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My last pictures were of our security light, and the orbs that came to be in the pictures. I’ve learned how to take orb pictures during the day when it’s sunny and with thin clouds. These 2 green orbs are in so many of my daytime pictures.

I decided to go on to bed, and let the orbs do what they came here to do.


Orbs are said to be emanations (to come from a source) of Spirit Beings.

A Second Celebration

October 4 was the most perfect fall day. I stayed outside in the gardens enjoying the day until shade covered the flowers. It was a sunny day, with the usual wind. The day sang with colors and activity. A strong cold front came through the next day and changed everything for the rest of the fall.

With winter seemingly to drag on and on, I wanted to celebrate this day again.

Most of the activity centered around these plants in my moon garden. (The red salvias were volunteers.)

The larger cloudless sulphurs finally emigrated up to southern Illinois.

This long tailed skipper was a rare butterfly that also came up from the south.

Painted ladies were the most numerous of all the butterflies. They have 4 spots along outer edge of their hindwing.

This shows the top of a painted lady. There’s also an American painted lady. It has 2 large spots underneath on the hindwing, and a small white spot outer-center part on top of forewing.

This snowberry clearwing is a moth, not a bumblebee, and hovered as it fed.

There was no shortage of bumblebees.

This dainty sulphur preferred the asters. It didn’t stay long at any one flower.

This silver-spotted skipper was a tad faded.

The female spicebush swallowtail obviously wasn’t a fresh one either.

The gray hairstreak prefered the white salvia.

Two or 3 species of fold-winged skippers flitted around from flower to flower too.

All the eye spots made the common buckeye easy to identify.

Asters were common. Pearl crescent butterflies lay their eggs on them. There was a lot of courting going on.

This beautiful flower is an African foxglove. The winds caused the tall spindly plant to lean to one side.

Obviously, this picture didn’t turn out the best. It does show how the bumblebee probed into the top of the flower to reach the nectar.

I hope you enjoyed this celebration of fall too.

A Mysterious Rock Wall

Last fall Buffy and I hiked south in the ravine up to the Shawnee National Forest land that borders mine. There’s a rock wall that I’ve visited so many times over the years and wondered why it’s there everytime.

With the angle of the sun, I went on to the south end and started back from there. Back in the 60’s a man built a small cabin at this end — which was illegal because this is National Forest land. He took part of the rocks at the upper end of the wall and made a tall elaborate fire place. I refuse to put it in the pictures. The cabin was gone before I started hiking here.

The wall was constructed with large sandstone rocks. It measures roughly 200 feet long.

A few rocks fell over in this section.

Here the creek altered its course over time and part of the wall collapsed into it.

What was it’s purpose? When was it built?

  The hills slope dramatically down to form a narrow ravine. The steep hills slope to both of the creek’s sides just up from here.

 Obviously, the wall wouldn’t have been used to corral animals. I’ve never been able to think of a single use for it.

 We started walking back north.

One thing I know for certain —

the wall didn’t build itself.

Monkey Slug aka Hag Moth

(I’m so glad to finally be back to my blogging. I’ve been under the influence of a computer virus.)

Yes, this is a caterpillar that goes be the name either monkey slug, hag moth or Phobetron pithecium. The first one I saw looked like a small piece of carpet on the leaf. That was in the late 80’s.

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This was the second one I saw, and it was in my yard summer before last. Obviously, they aren’t common … or they’re easily overlooked. The head end is the one with the short “arms.” The arms are deciduous.

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The moth caterpillar molted soon after I found it in late September. There’s disagreement as to whether the caterpillar has stinging hairs or not. I found both opinions in my research.

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I wondered if the bright yellow at the end of the arms was for a diversionary tactic of some sort.

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These caterpillars are found in shrubby fields, woodlands and forests from Quebec to Maine, and south to Florida and Arkansas. The long list of their host  plants includes a long list of trees and woody shrubs.

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Buffy, My Hiking Partner

 Yesterday was too beautiful of a day to stay in. Buffy insisted on a hike up on Eagle Mountain.

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How could I refuse?

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 It was such a calm, relaxed day, and the creek “played” a varied tune.

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We climbed part way up the steep hill, found a comfortable rock and just sat,

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And we sat …

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before returning to the truck.

And More Ice

Buffy and I were hiking along the creek on my rural property last month.  Open water remained in areas with the most flow. Thin ice formed over areas where the water had less movement.

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Ridges of ice formed on the undersurface of the ice and resulted in the patterns of light and shadow on the rocks below.

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The shapes and angles of the rocks added to the shapes of the designs too.

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Oh my.

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This one had me stumped with all the points that didn’t seem attached to a specific leaf.

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The ice’s surface looked relatively smooth.

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Just amazing!

Cranefly Orchid

Buffy and I were hiking through the woods on a short trip to get out of the house. I would’ve overlooked these five leaves if I hadn’t known that they were orchid leaves.

IMG_8171 red  Cranefly orchid (Tipularia discolor) leaves remain green through the winter and wilt before the plants flower in the fall.

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The purplish underside is a distinguishing feature for identifying them. The dark spots resulted from the cold winter weather.

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Petite describes the flowers. Obviously, they aren’t showy and do blend in with their surroundings. They grow in moist woodlands. Flowering stalks grow to 10 cm to 60 cm tall.

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Seeing an orchid in any stage is exciting.

River Birch

For some reason the river birch trees have escaped my attention when Bufffy and I hike the trail at a nearby lake.

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It’s not like their bark resembles “normal” tree bark.

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The paper-thin pieces blow in the wind.

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These brought back memories of when my 4 kids made presents for those on our Christmas list. They also made the wrapping paper (some of which were framed).

It took a while to find pieces of bark that were big enough. The kids used acrylics to paint their masterpieces.

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Keith (9 years old then) painted this mouse.  The bark measures 3 inches tall.

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My youngest daughter, Leslie, painted this bluebird for me. This painting is 8 inches tall. She was 11 that Christmas.

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Keith had a knack for finding native orchids, and I called him my orchidontist. This ladies tresses orchid painting measures 16 inches tall.


Date on the orchid painting shows they were done in 1984. That makes them almost 30 years old.

How can that be?

Nesting Bald Eagles

My oldest son reported seeing 2 eagles on the nest. Needless to say, I left within minutes.

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One eagle kept its head down in the top of the nest. The one on the left faced the other direction, which put its tail towards me.  The head on the one would come up for a short time and then go back down. I had no idea what it was doing.

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Then they just sat there. This was 2 in the afternoon.

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I watched them for 10 minutes and took the above picture when going to turn around.

 Something apparently happened to the young last year, because they quit nesting activities. I do so hope this year’s nesting is successful.

This visit was on January 21.



The major cold front crossing the country came through our side of southern Illinois Tuesday night after 10 p.m.  I had just finished my breakfast the next morning and had a sudden thought, “the eagle nest.” Did it survive the storm? It wasn’t long before Buffy and I were on our way to check.

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The nest could be seen from the highway. What a relief! The huge tree lost a trunk a few years ago. I figured it wasn’t as balanced and strong as it should be, and that 70 mph winds could do damage.

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I parked back at my usual spot near a substation so I, hopefully, wouldn’t pressure the eagles. The white head in the nest — I knew all was OK. After taking a few pictures, I drove on to turn around. And there across the road, in a tree sat …

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the other eagle! That’s how you can tell you’re having a good day!


  I now wonder if the one in the nest was incubating eggs, and the other one was standing guard. As you can see in the pictures in the top of this blog, how the one kept its head bent down. This went on for over 5 minutes. Maybe she was laying eggs.