Monday, July 27, 2009

Plainsboro Preserve and fleece updates..

Major thunderstorms yesterday, lightning, sheets of rain, the lot, so today when HP's aide was with him I had the chance to run to the Preserve for half an hour to see what was up. Just a couple of minutes' drive away. It's very sandy soil, so it doesn't flood, but it's interesting to see what the birds and butterflies are up to after the storm. They usually get very active on a day like today, and I wasn't disappointed.

Right in front of me on the gravel trail, a dusky swallowtail butterfly obligingly sat while I took pix with his wings open and shut. This has been a poor butterfly year because they don't show up in cool rainy weather, needing dry air and sunshine on their wings to get any loft at all.

And a pair of flickers were careening all over the place, up and down a dead tree, perfect flicker territory, since they're a kind of woodpecker and peck for insects in dead wood. And the barnswallows were out in force, and the cardinals, which used to be summer visitors but long ago became year round residents. It was before climate change was talked about and I think it was about building in this part of the world, resulting in back yards with bird feeders, so no need to venture very far to get your winter's groceries. Robins also made the same adaptation, though we do have a big influx in the spring of the ones who still migrate.

And good old milkweed, with raindrops still on it, butterfly food for monarchs, of which I have seen exactly ONE this year.

Meanwhile, back on the patio, carding of fleece is going on apace. I'm not very traditional about this, since I have a detective story (Dick Francis, to be precise) going in my CD headset while I card! but it's lovely to see the grotty, twiggy old fleece turning into soft lovely rolags (like wool sausages) ready to spin, so I thought you'd like to see a before and after here, too. It is certainly a lot easier to card using the actual tools, rather than a couple of little dog slicker brushes.

My idea is to get all my fleece carded before the weather turns cool and wet in the fall, because it's good to do out of doors -- the spare fluff and twigs are blown away or easily swept up, very pleasing. And I plan to put out the discarded fluff for bird nests. I already filled a suet feeder with fluff, just to see if there's any interest at this time of year. In spring it will almost certainly be a big hit.

I am guessing the bluejays will make short work of it in their nest building, since they love fluff, even cutting out the middle man and stealing it off the back of sleeping pets out of doors.

My old dog Buff used to sleep on the balcony of an apartment I used to live in years ago, and I'd hear a yelp as a bluejay descended on his fluffy back and yanked out a beakful of hair, flying away with a blond mustache to the nest in progress.


  1. Interesting post, as usual, Liz. Great pics. You're keeping very busy - makes me feel tired (lazy) just reading your blog.

  2. Your desciptions, stories and photos are always great. You make me want to visit your part of the world just to check it all out.


  3. You're a good photographer! Enjoyed my visit here.


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