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1 January 2022

Yard list 2021

It hasn’t been a good year for much, but I did get a lot of birding in. Traditionally, on new year’s day, I post my “yard list” from the previous year: a list of all the bird species I’ve personally observed from my yard. At my new house, I now have a full calendar year of observations. You’ll recall I moved to Albemarle from Shenandoah halfway through the previous year, …

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20 January 2021

Peering through

When hiking recently in my neighborhood, I saw this gleaming apparition appear in an eroded gully in a dirt road: Those multicolored stripes are varying compositions in a zone of ultramylonite: ductilely-sheared-out rock that formed in the deep equivalent of a “fault” in the Blue Ridge basement complex. We call it a “shear zone” most of the time, but a better descriptor would be “high strain zone.” These rocks are …

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1 January 2021

2020 Yard List(s!)

It’s my little new year’s tradition to present here my tally of bird species seen in my yard over the course of the year just concluded. Here are the previous iterations: 2012 (39 species) 2013 (51 species) 2014 (58 species) 2015 (65 species) 2016 (59 species) 2017 (56 species) 2018 (60 species) 2019 (67 species) Things are different this year, not because of the pandemic, but because I moved over …

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4 September 2020

Friday fold: Home décor

Busy weeks lately; apologies for the minimal bloggery, friends. For this week’s Friday fold, I offer you a view of some of the outdoor decorations at our new house: In the lower basket there is a cut and polished block of Castile Formation rock gypsum + limestone, showing varves that have been folded, apparently by hydration/dehydration volume changes of the gypsum/anyhdrite laminae: This is from the State Line outcrop on …

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1 January 2020

2019 Yard List

New year’s day! For this blog and me, the first day of the year is time for the annual recap of birds seen on my land in Fort Valley, Virginia. Here are the previous iterations: 2012 (39 species) 2013 (51 species) 2014 (58 species) 2015 (65 species) 2016 (59 species) 2017 (56 species) 2018 (60 species) This year’s list (biggest year yet!), in chronological order of first sighting: Pileated woodpecker …

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1 January 2019

2018 Yard List

New year’s day is the time I tally up and report the bird species seen in my yard on the forested slope of Massanutten Mountain in Shenandoah County, Virginia. This is my seventh such annual list. Here are the previous iterations: 2012 (39 species) 2013 (51 species) 2014 (58 species) 2015 (65 species) 2016 (59 species) 2017 (56 species) It’s been a good year. Two new “seen for the first …

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26 March 2018

Raider of the Lost Anticlines

A solo hike in search of anticlines yields new outcrops and good views!

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23 January 2018

A kid and his slicks

On a family hike, Callan’s son finds some interesting smooth lines on a rock. What are they? What do they tell us? Tune in for a brief history of Appalachian geology.

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1 January 2018

2017 Yard List

New year’s day is the time I tally up my accumulated bird species seen in my yard on the forested slope of Massanutten Mountain. This is my sixth such annual list. Here are the previous iterations: 2012 (39 species) 2013 (51 species) 2014 (58 species) 2015 (65 species) 2016 (59 species) Here we go, in chronological order of first appearance in our yard: Red-tailed hawk Red-bellied woodpecker Mourning dove Raven …

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2 May 2017

Leafing out to bring down CO2

It’s getting green outside – what’s it mean for the planet? Find out in this blog post contemplating the relationship between spring leaves and atmospheric CO2.

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3 April 2017

Virtual owl pellet

Owls are nocturnal birds of prey that eat rodents and grasshoppers, digest the good stuff, and cough up the rest in compressed “pellets” of fur, bone, and chitinous exoskeleton. I found an owl pellet in my yard a few weeks ago, and imaged it using my GIGAmacro Magnify2. I rotated it around to get multiple views, as seen here. I’ve got both Flash and non-Flash versions of the GigaPan embed …

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31 December 2016

2016 Yard List

Eastern bluebird (and its lunch, a camel cricket) Purple finch (male) At New Year’s, I post my “yard list” here. It’s a list of all the bird species observed in my yard in Fort Valley, Virginia, over the course of the previous calendar year. I have been posting this list every year since I moved here: 2012 (39 species) 2013 (51 species) 2014 (58 species) 2015 (65 species) Yellow-billed cuckoo …

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24 December 2016

A wondrous transformation

It’s bonfire season here in the Fort Valley. I live in a forest, and that forest is full of dead and downed wood. Motivated by a desire to (a) reduce forest fire risk and (b) clear out some of the area under the trees for unobstructed recreation, I gather it up and periodically burn it off in batches. We time these blazes to the weather – before or after after …

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28 November 2016

Scenes from the Wildlife Camera

Here’s a look at some of the wild critters that have been visiting my yard this year: The video’s organized in alphabetical order, so it starts with bears, and ends with a walking stick insect. See how many you can identify! Plus, here’s a compilation of 125 still photos of black bears from June of 2015:

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16 May 2016

Trace fossils in the Massanutten Sandstone

Over the weekend, my wife and I took a walk with our son at the Storybrook Trail, an accessible trail with a fine overlook to the east over the Page Valley. There, the Massanutten Sandstone shows a bunch of big beefy trace fossils at this site: both bedding-parallel (Arthophycus-like) and bedding-perpendicular (Skolithos-like) traces. Here’s Bax on a photogenic slab of the quartz arenite, showing the inch-wide bioturbation: A short distance …

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20 April 2016

Who ate the woodpecker?

Occasionally, our big windows get in the way of birds. The latest casualty was a hairy woodpecker, Leuconotopicus villosus. While it’s sad that our home being where it is caused the end of this bird’s life, its body was an opportunity to teach my son something about wildlife and ecology. We have a motion-sensitive wildlife camera trained on our compost pile, and so I put the woodpecker’s body there in …

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31 December 2015

2015 Yard List

It’s that time of the year – a time to state my “yard list” tally for the previous year. I have been posting this list every year since I moved to the Fort Valley: 2012 (39 species) 2013 (51 species) 2014 (58 species) In 2015, we had 65 species of birds spotted and definitively identified in our yard. In order of first appearance, they were: Carolina wren Dark-eyed junco American …

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1 January 2015

2014 Yard List

A list of birds seen in my yard this year. Lists for 2013 (51 species) and 2012 (39 species) here. Downy woodpecker Mourning dove Dark-eyed junco Tufted titmouse White-breasted nuthatch Black-capped chickadee Goldfinch Pileated woodpecker Red-bellied woodpecker Turkey vulture Hairy woodpecker Eastern phoebe Red-tailed hawk American crow American robin Cardinal Bald eagle Brown creeper Barred owl Carolina wren Brown-headed cowbird Chipping sparrow Whippoorwill Turkey Broad-winged hawk Black vulture Blue-gray gnatcatcher …

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1 January 2014

2013 Yard List

Here’s our birding yard list (species seen in/from our yard) for the past year. You can compare it with 2012’s list here. Canada geese Goldfinch Tufted titmouse Dark-eyed junco Mourning dove Black-capped chickadee White-breasted nuthatch Downy woodpecker Hairy woodpecker Blue jay Brown creeper American crow Red-bellied woodpecker Pileated woodpecker Red-shouldered hawk Carolina wren Turkey vulture Eastern phoebe Turkey Purple finch Red-tailed hawk Northern flicker Barred owl American robin Eastern bluebird …

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11 May 2013

The latest flood on Passage Creek

We had another flood on Passage Creek on Wednesday, and into Thursday morning. Here are a few photos and GigaPans for those of you who like flood imagery: [gigapan id=”129543″] link [gigapan id=”129490″] link [gigapan id=”129569″] link Making GigaPans of the scene: Some images of the flood itself: Aftermath: http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/129490 http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/129543 http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/129569 10.3 feet  was the maximum gauge height this time (6 is bridge level), which means the stream is …

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