Monday, June 11, 2012

Going to the Barn for a Pair of Pliers

I am sometimes easily distracted.  While working on a project in the garage, I had to stop to get a pair of pliers from the barn.  I got just one step out of the garage before I had to stop.

You can’t walk by a beautiful Black Rat Snake without pausing for a moment of admiration.  This is one of several snakes that periodically migrate between the house and barn, keeping both mouse free.

A yard stick was just inside the garage door, so placed it beside the snake.  Laid out straight, the snake would probably measure in at about four feet.

Beside the door was a lovely Crane Fly.  These big flies are quite common at Blue Jay Barrens and are one of my favorites.

Their large size makes it easy to see some of the characteristics unique to flies.  Unlike most other flying insects, flies have only one pair of wings instead of two.  Their hind wings have modified into knobbed stick-like structures called halteres which are used to balance the fly in flight.  You can see halteres on all flies, but on none as easily as the Crane Fly.

This colorful larva was hidden on the mortar between bricks on the house.  The yellow-green color almost glowed like that of a firefly.

A few steps later, a light colored moth shot from the grass and lit beneath a leaf beside the house.  I’ve been hoping to see an adult of the rare Unexpected Tiger Moth, so I tend to chase every whitish moth that goes by.  No luck here.  This is a common moth known as The Beggar.

Above the moth, an orb weaving spider has spun its web.  I believe this is called the Orchard Orbweaver.  It had the look of a small jewel.

The feeding station is in a direct line from house to barn, so the animals must move aside as I pass.  Most are so used to my comings and goings that they don’t move very far or fast at my approach.

A female Raccoon is nursing a litter, so she’s been visiting the feeder during the day to get enough food to sustain her through this difficult time.  I suppose it won’t be long before the little guys are out and about.

I cleared the house just in time to catch the Red-shouldered hawk dropping from the electric line.

It managed to land with a branch between us, so I’m not sure what it caught.  The prey must have been something small, because it went down in one gulp.

A bit closer to the barn I was attracted to a rustling in the tall grass around some old tractor parts.  A mother skunk had her young out of their den.  The little ones never stopped moving and never left contact with their mother.  I didn’t get an accurate count, but there are three baby faces and the mother’s tail in this shot.  At my approach they all retreated into an old Groundhog hole beneath the tractor motor.

I opened the barn door to find a young Cottontail.  This must have been the perfect spring for successful nestings.  I think I’ve seen babies of just about every mammal we have here.

Up in the barn loft was a young Blue Jay that couldn’t seem to find its way out.  I opened the big door at one end of the barn, but the bird wouldn’t fly down through the rafters to that exit.  Its calls kept getting more frantic and a parent bird outside the barn kept responding.  I finally climbed the ladder and opened the loft door so the youngster could escape.

As I was coming down the ladder, I came eye-to-eye with a female Fishing Spider.  I enjoy finding big spiders and this one is about as big and beautiful as they get around here.

There aren’t many animals with a coat as beautifully colored and marked as this girl. 

Atop one barn wall was a fresh shed from a Black Rat Snake.  This is a common find when the snakes are hunting in the barn.  If a week goes by without a new shed appearing, I figure the snakes are in the house.

On the way back to the house I found this walnut shell left by a squirrel.  It must have known how much I like faces.  Sometimes you don’t have to go far to have an exciting walk.  It wasn’t until I walked back into the garage that I noticed I had forgotten to get the pliers.


  1. So many cool critters! :) It was extremely nice of the snake to sit still while you placed the yard stick and took that picture. :) Great post.

  2. What a wonderful post! Love the walnut shell face.

  3. Thanks Lois. The snake was probably waiting for me to scare up a mouse.

    Thanks Pat. I find a couple of walnuts like that every year.