Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nature - Cute and Bizarre

Ever since my husband headed to the north country with the dogs, the New Jersey wildlife has reclaimed the backyard. We suddenly have a population of bunnies and groundhogs, hordes of squirrels, and birds galore. I'm not complaining, since we're enjoying watching the antics, but I'm keeping a close eye on the groundhogs and their proximity to my "vegetable garden" (large pots containing tomato, eggplant and pepper plants, which will move when I do).

Fuligo septicaImage via Wikipedia


We've had an interesting addition to the New Jersey garden this year. After days and days and days of rain, I noticed a patch of yellow in the garden that looked like vomit. Had the dogs been around, I would have assumed one of them had gotten into something gross. Curious, I did a search on google for "garden vomit" and discovered that the mysterious yellow goo is actually called "dog vomit slime mold". I'm not making this up. Check out Tom Volk's page on Fuligo septica here.

Dog vomit slime mold hangs out around rotting wood, eating bacteria. The extra water this year must have made my wood mulch a good place for the slime mold to grow. They must have had some wet weather in the 1950s, when a large patch of slime mold inspired the movie "The Blob".

We've got plenty of birds in the yard, but my kids and I have really been enjoying Cornell Lab of Ornithology's nestcams. Twitter friend @adktricollie turned me on to the website, where you can watch the nests of an owl, a falcon, a chimney swift and a robin. The young barn owl is really fun to watch. What a funny face he's got!

Thanks to Mother Nature I've had some nice distractions from packing, work and my pre-race training taper. There are some really amazing things out there!


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