Sunday, April 29, 2007

Carpenter Bees, Beautiful & Destructive

A Male Carpenter Bee feeding on a Dandelion

Carpenter bees are considered a pest. In regions they inhabit exposed lumber, particularly softwood are at risk of damage. For nesting sites the females will drill perfectly round 7/16” holes in the underside of any board or timber. They are particularly damaging to decks, both treated and untreated. Carpenter bees can be discouraged with a coat of paint or stain but even that is not guaranteed to stop them completely. The nesting hole will make a 90 deg. Turn once inside and continue on for perhaps over a foot. Into this cavity they will deposit pollen and eggs. The carpenter bees will also winter over here.

However destructive they are, they are a beautiful little creature. At this time of year the males are commonly found hovering near buildings, staking out the breeding rights to a particular piece of territory. They will vigorously attack any insect daring to invade. When a female comes near the airborne mating ritual will ensue

I’m sure that by now you are wondering how I can identify the sex of these bees. Well it is quite simple. The males, also known as drones have a small yellowish patch on their face just below their compound eyes. The “white” face can be seen in this photograph just above the bee’s black mouth parts. The females face is completely black. The male does not have a stinger and may be caught and handled with no risk. Do not try this with the female! Although normally very docile they can inflict a painful sting.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Honey Bees, Global Warming, some Salty Thoughts

A Carpenter Bee hurries from Flower to Flower

I have read the many dire warnings lately about how the world’s food production will be destroyed if the current problem with the decline in honey bees is to continue. The purveyors of doom would have us believe that a large percentage of the world’s crops will fail if they do not have honey bees to assist in pollination.

This same group of people would have us believe that although history teaches that our earth has went through ice ages and warming ages many times in the past, today with the exception of human activities, earth should be in a period of stable temperatures extending infinitely into the future.

As I looked at my cherry tree dressed in its white robe of blossoms I seen a vast array of insect species buzzing about the flowers. There were wasp, flies, bumble bees, carpenter bees and many creatures which I could not begin to identify. Could it be that only the honey bee has the ability to transfer pollen? Is our very existence on this rock that we call earth so fragile that the failure of one species such as the honey bee could spell doom for our entire civilization?

As I look about me I am prone to disagree with the folks who create sensations by making attention grabbing dooms day pronouncements. I think of them as the modern “Chicken Littles” Sorry folks, the sky is not falling, only changing, as the earth has done since the beginning of time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Trout Fishing, Business & Pleasure

For many outdoorsmen in the Keystone State trout fishing and spring go hand in hand. Many of our streams have become too warm to support trout year around. This has been caused in part by the removal of shade trees along our streams.

A stream meandering through a green pasture, while beautiful, may not be a healthy stream. For a stream to sustain a healthy fish population it needs shade and decaying vegetation to feed the microorganisms and invertebrates which in turn support the higher forms of life such as fish. Cool water fish such as trout require the lower water temperatures provided by the shade.

Pennsylvania trout fishing is in large part a put & take fishery. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission rear some four million trout annually. The recreational economic impact of this fishery is estimated at nearly $500 million per year.

Trout fishing is big business in Pennsylvania. It is also a pleasant and relaxing way to spend the day.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Season Opener

After a winter of waiting the Maryland Chesapeake Bay spring trophy striper season finally arrived Saturday morning. With the great weather forecast for this weekend a heavy turnout of anglers was expected and no one was disappointed. To beat the crowd to the launch I left home at 1:45 am, picked up my friends enroute arriving at Breezy Point Marina a few minutes after 5:00am. Quite a number of boats had already departed but we were able to launch immediately. Although still dark there was just enough light in the eastern sky illuminating the water to allow me to safely steer past the crab pots and into the channel where we set lines and began trolling.

Trolling for Stripers

The weather was perfect, sunny and warm with no wind and waves but the stripers were not cooperating for most of us. We boated one 33” fish. I heard of anglers who did much better and others who were still looking for their first fish at the end of the day. We heard many fishermen on the radio saying, “it’s a beautiful day for a boat ride!”

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Get the Net!

A nice Striper nears the boat

I have tried many times to capture this fleeting moment. At this point everything is moving quickly, the fish and the crew, there is a very small window of opportunity to compose focus and shoot. Blurred photographs have been the result of all of my previous attempts.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Fishing Expressions

Fighting a big striper requires the strength to over come the pull of the boat and the strength of the fish

For the fishing enthusiast it is an exhilarating experience. Near the end of the fight Kevin’s face exhibits pure pleasure.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Chesapeake Dawn, another Fishing Year Begins

Today I met the dawn on the Chesapeake Bay. With the large storm that has wrecked so much havoc in Texas and Oklahoma bearing down upon us I expected a spectacular sunrise this morning. As sunrise neared the horizon began to display beautiful colors but alas the atmospheric conditions were not as perfect as I had hoped for. The beautiful colors dissipated before the sun could peak through.

Each year my friend Paul and I book a pre-season catch & release charter with Captain Hank Devito. We began booking Captain Hank in 1999 in an attempt to learn the techniques and tactics necessary to successfully peruse the Chesapeake’s premier game fish, the Striped Bass. Hank is a unique captain who willingly shares his vast fishing knowledge. Over the years this charter has became our spring tradition and a much anticipated visit with a good friend.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Red Breasted Mergansers

I encountered this busy flock of red breasted mergansers hens while checking out a lake for its boat docks and possible fishing potential. Although they would not allow me to approach as closely as I would have liked they did afford the opportunity for a few photographs while foraging their way along the shoreline. With the thermometer holding in the low twenties Fahrenheit and a stiff west wind neither the ducks or I was inclined to stay in one place for long!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Family Conversation

A pair of Canada Geese appears to be deep into a family conservation.

I wonder what could be the topic of such an intense discussion. Could it be they are trying to decide where to build the nest, or perhaps who is going to take the next turn sitting on the eggs? Maybe one hasn’t been contributing their fair share to the relationship.

Musings such as these can be fun but I am sure that the subject is that of the intruder with a big eye that makes annoying clicking sounds.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Daffodils, before the Freeze

Our daffodils began blooming before the sub freezing Easter temperatures arrived.

Thank God for Global Warming for without it
I cannot imagine how Cold it would be!!!

Friday, April 06, 2007

A Place of Legend

I first heard of this institution when I was a school boy. Some of the boys from the southern end of our county seemed to know a lot about it but yet were always vague in detail. In fact the more questions one would ask the more unclear the answers would become. It was the mysterious place where it was said that the people did not wear clothing. In time it seemed that perhaps this place didn’t really exist at all but rather it was only a legend.

Many locals referred to it as the Nudist Colony while others called it a camp. A search of the net reveals that it is indeed a place where clothing is optional. It is a fifty eight acre camp, not a colony. Camping, volley ball, and swimming are among the recreational activities provided for folks who like to on occasion be free of clothing. It is noted on the web site that going nude breaks down social barriers erected in society by the type of clothing we choose to wear.

I would find it hard to enjoy a stay here as,
for very good reasons,
cameras are forbidden!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Colt's Foot....An Early Bloomer

Colt’s Foot is one of the earliest blooming flowers in my area. Its perky yellow blossoms are frequently confused with dandelion but closer examination reveals that it is a completely different plant. Colt’s Foot grows on road banks and other areas of poor soil.

Where I find beauty others only find problems. I did a Google search for it and the first hit was,
Colt’s Foot, Recognition and Eradication.

It makes me wonder if we humans are frequently too hasty to eradicate life that may not fit our concept of how our world (or our garden) should be.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Prescribed Burning Pt. 2

This photograph illustrates the intensity of the fire as it races through the tall dry grass. The rising heat waves impart a watercolor effect to this photograph.

The fire burns out quickly leaving behind a seemingly charred waste land

Upon closer examination the new grass sprouts only have their tips scorched.
Moments after the fire passed I placed my hand on the ground and found it cool to the touch. Within days the entire field will be covered with lush new growth, providing food to a variety of wildlife.