Wildlife on the farm
|In addition to the 'Farm Log', I will also post reports from Terry Butcher and other members of my family in
Southern England. This will provide a window into actual climate change and effects on the ground, both sides of the
Atlantic. It is hoped to expand this to become a useful monitor of global climate change.
May 8, 2011
The wonderful sight of four or five Hummingbirds at different times on the Apple Blossom trees.
May 5, 2011
Spotted the first Swallowtail butterfly.
April 26, 2011
Saw the first butterfly of the season, a Painted Lady. Also saw the first wasps (galore) and the
dreaded Carpenter Bees, which destroyed even new timber on the barn last year. Anyone out there
have ideas to try and stop them???
April 25, 2011
The wonderful sight of the first Barn Swallows to arrive back from Winter vacation to their Summer
nesting spot under the big red barn. After a very long, very cold and very snowing winter, signs of
Spring have suddenly arrived. Sudden is the right term. 36 hours ago it was still colder than normal
with snow even reported on high ground on the hills inland in Connecticut. Yesterday, it was even
hot and humid and the pollen from leaves and flowers in a hurry to make up for lost time.
January 27, 2011
A severe blizzard hit the east coast. Here we woke to around 20-24" of extra snow. We removed
around 4feet from parts of our roof after observing a sag in the garage roof. Most locals say they
have seen nothing like it before and the local Chan 8 weather station confirms this. Its officially the
snowiest January since records began and just shy of the snowiest of any single month ever. At the
Connecticut capital city, Hartford they have measured 58". A number roofs have collapsed around
the area due to weight of snow. A substantial factory unit on Rte 80, about a mile and half from our
home completely collapsed, leaving just the brick front with windows in tact to the offices (photo
January 24, 2011
Continuation of bitterly cold weather and as a result a complete snow cover remains. Last night I
woke at 4.0 am and the outside temperature was -4 F ( -20C). Its 1.50 pm as I write this and its
12F in the shade (-11C). There is talk of another storm coming up thge east coast for late
Wednesday into Thursday. Photo #51 below was taken of the frost on the inside of our windows
January 20 , 2011
It continues a repeat cycle of low pressure systems forming in the south west, moving east and
deepening as they head up the east coast into colder air. The snow fall total this winter so far
recorded in the Connecticut capital Hartford as of today is 51.6 inches. We still have complete snow
cover and good size drifts . The pathways around the farm cut through the snow cover by the
blower still around 14" deep.
January 12, 2011
We had already had two significant snow storms over the last two weeks, the last dropping around
11", then came a huge blizzard overnight last night which by the end of the day left 30" (as recorded
at New Haven nearby). See the photos HERE
September 25, 2010
Here a brief overview of the summer on the farm:
First to say that it has been very dry with our streams dry for much of the time, with short bursts of
flow following a few thunderstorm. We have seen very few ticks, mosquito's or flies. Much less of
each of them than normal. That sounds good for humans but not for the wildlife like birds. Only
saw a couple of bats in the barn and not our usual dozen or so. At least six or so regular daily Red
Breasted Hummingbirds coming to the window feeder (feeding them 50/50 sugar to water mix). The
single pair of Red Tails were overhead most days and our bee hive was very healthy and a buzz most
days. This is the first year we have looked after our hive ourselves. So far so good, we have to hope
that we can keep them warm and dry all winter. Fingers crossed, we love those guys.
The butterfly population got off to a worrying slow start but came on strong with good quantities of
Swallowtails followed by the turn of the Monarchs - they are still here in very strong numbers but
soon to leave for Mexico.
We prepared seriously for major hurricane 'Earl' which at one stage as it approached the east coast
was a catagory 5 storm with winds of 165 mph and had us in its bulls eye. Luckily things changed
and as it weakened it just skirted us and we watched the edge of the storm from the farm and the
August 13, 2010
The dramatic late increase in the butterfly population continues along with an exceptional number of
small type bubble bees. Our honey bees also seem to be doing well. They have nearly filled the hive.
We have at least half a dozen individual Humming birds feeding on the mix I have in a feeder on the
kitchen window. For those interested its one part sugar to one part water.
The Hummingbird moth is seen daily on the Buddleia bushes (#048 below).
August 9, 2010
Two days ago the farmer opposite came across a huge turtle while hay making. I took photos seen
#043-044-045 seen below. It was getting on for three feet from head to tail. Yesterday while Synthia
and I left the house for our early morning walk the first thing I noticed was a unusual black UFO
shaped cloud approaching from the west and moving east #046-047. Looking like a lenticular cloud
but they usually remain stationary, this one did not - see also below. From there being a very small
number of butterflies, we now have an exceptional number of Swallowtail butterflies, more than Ive
August 9, 2010
Two days ago the farmer opposite came across a huge Snapping Turtle while hay making. I took
photos seen #043-044 below. It was getting on for three feet from head to tail.
Yesterday while Synthia and I left the house for our early morning walk the first thing I noticed was
a unusual black UFO shaped cloud approaching from the west and moving east #045-046. Looking
like a lenticular cloud but they usually remain stationary, this one did not - see also below. From there
being a very small number of butterflies, we now have an exceptional number of Swallowtail
butterflies, more than Ive ever seen.
July 7, 2010
Horrendously hot and humid. Record temperatures of more than 100F in the shade. A bad mixture of
high ozone which I could feel stinging my eyes as well as in my breathing along with high humidity
and those record high temperatures. Today when I went to fill the water containers for our rabbits in
the old red barn, I was greeted by a large three feet long snake I had not seen before (#040-041-
042). When I first saw it, the snake was moving across the top of the chicken wire towards me and
its tail still coming out of the wall of the barn. Ive researched it and believe it might be a Northern
Water Snake, perhaps looking for water now that our two streams have dried up. When it reached
the end of the wire it climbed vertically, showing its last meal part way along its body (#041).
If anyone can confirm this is a Northern Water Snake I would be pleased to hear.
Just heard on CBS News radio (from New York) that several cities including Stanford, could run out
of water in the next few days if demand is not reduced. No idea it was that serious already.
June 29, 2010
A noticeable and I would say concerning reduction in all kinds of insects. Just a handful of
butterflies, mainly Cabbage Whites. Also days without seeing any Yellow Jackets. Even House and
Horse Flies are very much down along with Mosquitoes. We don't see any Bats which is also
concerning. No idea what this is all about but my Sister Valerie who lives near Aberystwyth in
Wales, UK also reports very few insects of all kinds. Weather is exceptionally hot and humid, early
by around a month.
June 21, 2010
This week on the farm Ive seen two amazing sights from nature that I would like help with. The
highly colored fly (#039) which is living with others on the Milk Weed - Does anyone know what its
And the simply extraordinary small spider shown in photo #037 which has a single multi colored
beaded strand connecting each of the concentric threads of its web to a nearby leaf Amazing photo
#038. It has the appearance of DNA markers of every color you can imagine. Has anyone seen this
before? Please contact me here if you can help: CONTACT
May 27, 2010
The last couple of days in photos.
Last night we had two thunderstorms (#031-032). The second hit around mid-night and was a quite
amazing electric show which lasted for over an hour. Severe electric storm with strong winds went
through early hours May 27th. Some trees were toppled and we lost power.
The beautiful butterflies I photographed in the horse pasture three days ago (#033-034) and a strange
looking beetle (#035) I saw on the farm which Bill Black told is the insect thought responsible for the
dramatic loss of Sugar Maple trees here in the North East. I spent an hour looking at a pair of Blue
Birds nesting on Bill and Ellen's farm opposite. I had to wait about an hour to get my photograph but
what a pleasure (#036)
May 20, 2010
Several times today Ive had the company of the first Ruby Throated Hummingbird seen this year. A
person in the local store told me that she had seen one two weeks ago during a brief warm spell. The
bedraggled Red Fox is seen quite regularly around the farm and he not shy. Seen on the right going
as far as forcing on coming traffic to stop for him (Photos # 029-030). One wonders how long it
will be before he gets hit. This parent has three or four cubs and was until two days ago very active
and heard howling near the house at the bottom of our garden. But since then silence has fallen and
nothing has been heard or seen since. We called Chris and Lizabeth Gode, Wildlife Rehabilitators to
see if they could help with what we thought was the parent in distress. Regrettably we fear for the
May 3, 2010
I heard him this year before I spotted him. The Baltimore Oriole, this spectacular bright
orange/yellow bird arrived and has immediately taken up his usual perching spots around the farm.
April 29, 2010
What kept them so long? Today the first Barn Swallow arrived to the families summer home under
our old red barn. Last year they arrived on April 15th. Now perhaps we will see the early insect
population. Its always such a delight to see these loyal, pleasant and effective creatures. They will
never know what extremes we went to save their home after all the advise we received when we
arrived here was to pull down the old barn - left to its own accord would have fallen all by itself.
They have paid us back handsomely.
April 24, 2010
The Redtail hawks have pared up and are regular visitors over the farm. Two came in and circled
overhead today giving me a wonderful opportunity to enjoy them and of course snap a shot (#027
April 23, 2010
A gorgeous Red Fox sat in the grass at the bottom of our back year seemingly unconcerned that I
was stood no more than 40 feet away. He lives in a hole dug into the bank near the red barn.I took
several photographs of him before he decided to move. The photo #028 below.
April 22, 2010
Saw the first Swallowtail butterfly this season.
April 13, 2010
Synthia and I installed a new Italian Queen bee with 3 Lbs of bees into our new top bar bee hive. We
have taken classes to try and serve the bees well and look after them. The installation went well and
no we did not get stung (photos #023-026 below). Back in Hampshire, England, Jan Delgado visited
her Dad, my old mate Pat Delgado's most favourite place, Alresford Golf club. A beach tree has been
placed next to the first tee in memory of Pat. I had asked Pat's family if they would permit me to
place the tree and a plaque there after loosing Pat who was my first co-author and wonderful friend
last year. Synthia and I will visit the tree with Pat's family in July when we visit England to
participate in research with Dr. Simeon Heins and Dr. Stephen Greer. Anyone interested in attending
those events should go HERE and contact them directly. I am also hoping to visit the UFO hot spot in
Wales where UFOs have been seen interfering with sheep around Rhayader Forest area. The pair of
Mallard Ducks are back to bring another family up in the flower pot tray they call home HERE
March 24, 2010
Our neighbor saw two mature Baud Eagles flying in circles over his barn opposite our home.
March 22, 2010
Saw our first Blue Bird of the season near the farm.
March 9, 2010
Saw the first Redwing blackbird in the garden today and could hear others. After moving horse
manure to the new vegetable garden, we found our first tick on us. That's not good a tick this early.
February 23, 2010
Caught sight of another robin. Last weeks I saw several small groups of them. These early arrivals
are having to look hard for food what with the snow cover.
February 17, 2010
Yesterday saw two more boosters of snow - the late afternoon was heavy with bad road conditions
and around 18" in and around the farm Photos HERE
February 11, 2010
So far its been a long cold snowy winter shared with what seems like a smaller number of birds than
normal. The Red Fox is putting in regular close visits (Left panel). Some snow photos of the third
big snow storm in weeks, today HERE.
The Red Fox seen hunting in our woods during heavy snow - photo #022.
December 20, 2009
The third snow storm of the winter already but this one outshone not just the last two but just about
any for several decades in places. Here on the farm we reckon we had somewhere around 15-16 "
where as in Guilford just a couple of miles to our south and on the shoreline they had a good two
feet. The parking lot at Synthia's practise there was closer to three feet and the snow was a quarter
way up the outside doors. Temperatures when we woke at minus 8C in the teens Fahrenheit. It
remained well below freezing all day and ended in a brilliant sunset as the deep depression that caused
the monster storm all down the east coast, moved out to sea. See below photo # 020 of our
neighboring farmer Bill Black clearing snow on Dragonfly Farm. More HERE
December 4, 2009
In two days it will be a year ago that I lost the animal love of my life 'Angie' and I miss her just as
much as ever. Why is it that even with so many happy memories we are always left with the most
painful ones?. When ever I think of her which is most days, I can see that moment when she made
the biggest effort to climb into my arms as she lay on our bed that last night. She fell across the
short distance into my arms and gave me the most haunting look. I knew that was the time she was
saying she had enough and wanted to go - it was such a clear OK its time, it was either that or please
help me. Hours before she had brought to my feet an old bread roll she treated as her puppy which
she would never allow out of her sight but now she brought her puppy to me to take care of. She
turned and fell on my computer stand as she left me - all too much and such hard work those final
hours. Such a great animal and so very very loyal. I simply can not forget the fact that just when we
thought everything we could do right for her was in place and we stood comforting her in the clinic,
the vet missed her vein to put her to sleep and caused her that final moment of pain. So so sorry
Today where Angie is buried out in our back yard, the first snow of the winter is falling and as I
write has completed its first covering of grass and highway. This comes after a warmer than normal
period of several weeks.
October 15, 2009
Our first snow of the winter, very early. Temperature has been around 36F all day with flakes of wet
snow falling with rain and sleet here in North Guilford but I am told that near blizzard conditions are
occurring not too many miles further in land with snow already on the grass and highway.
October 12, 2009
Connecticut experienced its first widespread frost. About two weeks ago a few areas inland had a
slight frost. The leaves are in near full color here, the air cool and fall shaping up as if a cold winter
might be on the cards. We have seen less in the way of yellow jackets and honey bees around the
farm during the summer season but many more bumble bees. I would say that in general less
butterflies also. We were pleased to have several families of frogs in our stream and two small
families of Bats in the barn. We have stacked our logs and prepare for winter.
September 27, 2009
I have never seen so many bumble bees - they are of the large variety and are on every flower of the
buddleia. Photo coming.
September 6, 2009
The Barn Swallows left about 20 days ago. We reckon there were around a hundred or so lined up
upon the wires before they left for the south. They left just ahead of Hurricane Bill’s move up the
east coast, which just glanced Long Island a few miles south, on its way back into the north Atlantic.
In general there seem to have been less flies, wasps and bugs. The butterflies came late but they
came and in smaller numbers than we’ve seen. Today their wings are looking well worn as the
Bats keep down the mosquitoes and fly populations. This year we only saw one pair of bats and a
single baby in the barn where the usually nest. We’ve seen a few flying around the house during late
evenings but again less than recent years while we’ve lived here at Swallowtail farm.
The Ruby Throated Hummingbirds have been more plentiful than any year I’ve witnessed here on the
east coast. I’ve learned also that they are much more intelligent than I had given them credit. I have
seen just one today so far and so perhaps they too are leaving for warmer pastures.
Our friend Mel relocated the two bee hives to Branford, having lost both hives to an unknown cause
for two years in succession. Probably as a direct result of this, we’ve had a smaller apple harvest on
our three trees but the Peach tree looks quite good. I estimate probably around 150 or more peaches
on the smallish but old tree, these are in final days of ripening. The grape vines yet again have
produced grapes but very few. Last year we started with a reasonable crop but they disappeared and
we blamed the black bear, seen in the field opposite the year before.
After an exceptionally long cold winter, the summer made a nice break but the nip in the last few
evenings send thoughts we might again be in for another long cold snowing winter. The wood for
our fires arrived yesterday.
June 28, 2009
The Monarch seemed to have almost completely disappear since May but today we see them again.
Lots of Cabbage White's a few Painted Lady's. Its continued cooler and wetter than normal by far,
with the occasional warm and even hot days. Two days ago the area suffered a super cell
thunderstorm which crossed Connecticut and out into Long Island sound. In places 2" hail was
reported and extensive damage to tree and electricity system. Unusual cloud formations were seen as
the storm passed. See my photographs on the left panel.
May 10, 2009
The first Swallowtail butterfly seen in the garden. I would say that two different species of
Hummingbirds are feeding on the window feeder. One is some what larger than the Ruby Throated
which is happily also back into the habits of previous years. Feeding where we can see him/her and
spending longer moments sitting there at dusk.
April 28, 2009
The first Hummingbird of the summer. Could hardly believe my eyes as the cheeky guy sat on the
apple tree in front of me for a few seconds and then proudly announced his arrival by being sure I
saw him, flying directly over my head at a height of about 18 feet. As is the way of the high speed
flyer he was out of sight as quickly as he had appeared. Next job, get the feeder out when I can find
it. This is early for hummingbirds, but so is the extreme heat. Temps in the 80s the last three days,
even above 90F two days ago, which is an all time record for this time of year in these parts. Still
missing my little Angie, who would be so enjoying the spring run around the yard.
April 15, 2009
What a thrill today at 4.30 pm to witness the return from South America, of the first Barn Swallow.
The same family that left last fall to winter in Brazil, returned from the long flight back, up the east
coast. More of the family will follow within hours, perhaps a day or so.
April 14, 2009
The first Goldfinch of the season seen in the back yard. The grass has moved beyond a slight
greening to actually accelerated growth. Tree buds are swelling but seemingly some way away from
leaves. Weather still generally still colder than normal.
March 31, 2009
The first tick seen on the farm this year and flies in the house - not a good sign. A hint
of green in the grass but most growth is behind. Counted 32 deer in the field opposite one afternoon
this week, so they made it OK through the tough winter.
March 2, 2009
Ferocious Snow Storm Hits. Photo # 009 below and also a series with report HERE.
February 14, 2009
The long cold winter continues but some signs of spring are in the air. We have seen a couple of
Robins and the Redtail hawks are very active. Our neighbor reports seeing a Redwing this week
also. The buds on the Lilac are noticeable swelling and the local Maple Syrup producer, Buster
Scratton has 500 trees tapped and producing flow. We still miss Angie very much but her presence
breaks through in very real ways.
January 16, 2009
Last night when we went to bed at mid-night the temperature was 0F (-17C). Waking this morning at
7.0 AM it was warming up to 0F but according to our local weather station during the night the
temperature fell to minus 15F (-26C).
January 15, 2009
Its 6.45 PM and the air temperature outside is 6F (minus 14.44 C), Cold. Snow is beginning to pile
up and has been on the ground for most part of the last few weeks. The underground pipe to the
barn is frozen and we have a heater in our basement to stop the water pipes into the house drom
freezing. Its winter.
December 23, 2008
Snow still covers all surfaces. Woke today to 9F ( minus 13 C).Photo # 008 below and also a series
of photos of the snow fall HERE.
December 20, 2008
Early Snow storm and very cold.
December 7, 2008
The first snow fall of the winter and early. Woke to between 2.5 to 3" covering all surfaces.
Freezing again tonight with bone chilly winds. Photo #007.
December 6, 2008
Today the animal love of our lives, passed away. Our pet dog "Angie" has had a very tough struggle
for the last week, after two seizures. "Angie" was known by family and friends to be tied to my hip.
We did all we could for her day and night as she tried to fight with cancer and two sudden seizures.
After much heartache and desire to do the best thing for her, we knew eventually we had no option
but to step in and give her the last best gift we could. So to save her from further suffering we
helped her to pass at 8.25 AM today. Many tears today and for time to come. DEDICATION FOR
ANGIE Also photo on left.
November 22, 2008
The night time temperature here dropped down to 19.2 F (-7.1 C). Way colder than normal.
November 20, 2008.
A great photograph by our neighbor Bill Black of his wife Ellen with her sheep and new dog. It was
taken during their early morning work out on Dragonfly Farm. What a superb photograph to witness
the end of another fall. Photo # 006 below - click the photo to see an enlargement.
November 20, 2008.
A very cold trend and early. Last night the temperature on the farm dropped to 21F (-6.1 C) and
hovered around freezing all day today. The weather service say we are around 10F below the norm.
November 19, 2008.
From a late lasting summer we have dropped into a colder than normal late fall. Temperatures last
night here on the farm were around 23F and stayed around freezing all day. Forecast is for sub-zero
temperatures most of the week at night and in the low 40s during the day.
October 8, 2008.
Many of our summer friends have left.
The Barn Swallows left about three weeks ago for Brazil. Most of the Monarchs have left for
Mexico, just one or two still passing through. The Ruby Throated Hummingbirds left about two
The fall leaves have been green until about four days ago and then very suddenly changed color.
Looks like peak around here will be late next week.
Weather remains mainly dry and sunny with cool evenings and mornings. Days in the last week in
the high 60s, low 70s and nights 55-60F.
September 17, 2008.
Its been an interesting two days for creatures on the farm. Yesterday I saw the Locust (Photos #018
), and the spectacular Speckled Black Salamander Lizard (#019).
Today it was the turn of a brightly colored Marbled Orb Weaver spider (#017 below) and an
unknown fly/wasp ( #016)?.
September 8, 2008
Something very different to report today - A mysterious insect over 4 inches long. (#015 below)
WHAT IS IT? Yesterday, Synthia's Uncle Rich, who lives on the outskirts of Washington D.C.
discovered this strange bug. Sept 9th - UPDATE: See close up pictures and the answer HERE.
September 5, 2008
This week in pictures and not all good. You could say its been a PEACH of a week! (See photos
#011-014 below). The deer love peaches which is shown here showing the mother who brought her
fawns to our back yard today for a tuck in.
We are on a tropical storm watch as I post this. Tropical storm 'Hanna', is deepening and might
reach hurricane status before coming up the entire east coast tomorrow. Its been that kind of week.
August 20, 2008
We have now a family of we think 10 bats living in the red barn - photo # 010 below).
The butterfly count has improved but still lower numbers than normal. Most we see are Monarchs
with Swallowtail's a close second.
This morning we found the third hole dug into the hard soil, where we think the black bear once
again was prepared to take the wrath of a fully active yellow jacket nest to eat the nectar. It seems
that old nectar is just too much to pass under foot without putting up a fight for it. This is the third
nest this summer that has succumb to this guy, now within yards of the back of the house.
August 10, 2008
We have one small family of bats living in the red barn. An adult and two youngsters. Last year we
had several. There has been only a slight increase in the numbers of butterflies of all species. Their
most favourite flowering flowers and shrubs are in full flower, but missing are the wonderful
August 8, 2008
Is the Black Bear back (try saying that quickly). Yesterday I became the proud owner of a large
swollen ankle, thanks to a sting from an angry Yellow Jacket, called a wasp in UK. He came from a
nest in the ground in the back yard. The entry hole was about one inch across. This morning I
looked out the window and noticed the entry was now a huge hole, about ten inches to a foot
across. It had been dug out, much like last year further down the property. On that occasion fresh
animal poop lay as evidence of who had visited. It was the black bear, seen in the field opposite early
one morning two years ago. So, seems like he might be back. Take a look at the photo's I took last
year and today to see the dug out nests.
August 2, 2008
An amazing sight in our horse pasture. Would you believe,a large white stag with two white fauns.
Never seen anything like this before, only in Disney movies or in children's books. You can see the
photos I was able to take as dusk fell ( look at Wild Life on the farm ).
July 28, 2008
A high rate of germination on the Peach Tree. So far the tree is very full of fruit.
July 24, 2008
Two weeks ago, we saw our first and only Bat this year in the barn - he was injured but later
recovered. He was joined by a parent the following day.
NOTE: We usually have a small colony in the barn, but so far this year they have not shown up.
July 24, 2008
The hurricane season is now underway and the first landfall in Texas yesterday, 'Dolly'. The weather
has generally become more stormy across the country. There is still only a very small handful of
butterflies around here. The Barn Swallows seem to have been successful with breeding and the
young ones are now flying confidently and beginning to learn skills for the fall return to Brazil. A very
social bird who keep families close to them throughout their lives and return to the same nests. The
new kids set up home nearby.
July 13, 2008
NOTE: A noticeable explosion of Rabbits. The most we have seen since we moved here four years
July 12, 2008
Saw only the third Monarch butterfly. There are a few Cabbage White butterflies around but a
serious lack of all other species. Still only seen one Swallowtail butterfly. Buddleia is now in near
full flower and usually covered in butterflies – almost nil seen. My Sister-in-law
Jean in southern England told me it’s the same there, i.e. Cabbage Whites but not others.
July 12, 2008
Saw only the third Monarch butterfly. There are a few Cabbage White butterflies around but a
serious lack of all other species. Still only seen one Swallowtail butterfly. Buddleia is now in near
full flower and usually covered in butterflies – almost nil seen. My Sister-in-law
Jean in southern England told me it’s the same there, i.e. Cabbage Whites but not others.
July 5, 2008
First Morning Glory flower of the year opened. One of our favourite flowers, a joy they are.
July 4, 2008
Saw the second Monarch on the farm this season. NOTE: Only a small trickle of butterflies seen,
mainly Cabbage Whites.
The first Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly seen this season.
June 3, 2008
Spotted the first Monarch butterfly this season.
May 31, 2008
Two baby Woodchucks were spotted for the first time this year, emerging from their home under
the red barn.
May 15, 2008
Saw the first Swallowtail butterfly this year.
Synthia's daughter Adriel (#004), discovered two very young baby birds on the highway next to
the farm (#005). We nursed them every half an hour for three weeks and when they had
feathers, the 'Raptor Rehabilitation and Education Center at Killingworth, told us they were
Grackles. Unfortunately we lost one and so Christine and Todd Secki, who own and run the
center, took 'Jack' the survivor in to complete preparation for his release back into the wild.
'Raptor Rehabilitation and Education Center'
The center can be contacted on: (203) 804-3453
May 15, 2008
Scarlet Tanager bird was seen for the first time this year.
May 8, 2008
Male and female Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are back on the feeder. Also the Rose Breasted
Grosbeak was seen several times.
NOTE: We lost both bee hives. Reasons unknown. Re-stocked with two new queen's
April 28, 2008
Last year, the local Maple Syrup producer (#001-002), told me that there are growing concerns
about the increasing number of Sugar Maple trees succumbing to Black Fungus. The trees loose a
few small branches first, and then it moves onto larger limbs and finally the entire tree. Today I
noticed the number of partly and also completely dead Maple trees just between our farm and the
nearby town. We have three Sugar Maples ourselves on the farm and two of them have the fungus.
This article talks of the possibility of loosing all of the trees in New Hampshire. Apart from the
obvious loss to the environment and the sugar maple business, what would New England look like in
the fall without the famous colors produced by these trees ? (#003)
See left side panel for local maple syrup production and trees.
NOTE: Many Sugar Maple trees are dying.
Reports from England
Local weather data - historic: HERE.
Neighbor's, Swallowtail and Dragonfly Farms - Copyright: Colin Andrews.
#006 - Select to enlarge.
|All Photographs are the
copyright of Colin Andrews
unless otherwise show.
|#021 Ckick image to enlarge
|All Photographs are the
copyright of Colin
|Colin Andrews Photography
|Colin Andrews Photography
|All Photographs are
copyright of Colin
October 13, 2012
First frost this morning and quite a good one in the 20s.
August 23, 2012
Large numbers of what I believe are sand martins have been gathering on the electricity wires,
preparing to leave for their winter home. There has been a very dramatic increase in the numbers of
Painted Lady butterflies. As many as I have ever seen.
June 29, 2012
I was sat out the back of our house on the deck and taking a break at around 6.30 PM yesterday and
was taking a few photographs of the wildlife, that is what I do for my pleasure. I had the camera in
my hand when one of the strangest things I think Ive seen floated or flew over my head from south
to north. It looked like a miniture version of the International Space Station but I believe this was a
creature. I estimate it was less than 100 feet above my head and a guess would be that it was
something in the order of five to six inches across. Can anyone help identify it? View photo #s 67-68
below. If you can help: CONTACT.
June 9, 2012
Saw the first Monarch butterfly of the summer. There are a few Cabbage Whites and Swallowtails
around also. Miraculously most of the Buddleia shrubs survived the heavy damaging October snow
May 13, 2012
A bad start to the day. A baby squirell was trapped inside the large steel runner, the massive barn
doors hang. If Synthia had not heard her Mother screaming before she slide the doors open, the little
guy would not be here now. It took us two hours to extracate him. It felt much like my fire fighting
days were back. Soon as we freed him, his Mom came and took him and was last seen cleaning him
up and checking him out. Good job done. (Photos of Mom and very shaken baby coming)
May 12, 2012
Synthia and I were enjoying watching the wildlife from the kitchen window, when the first pair of
Ruby Breasted Hummingbirds came to the bracket where we usually hang their feeder. They
hovered and looked through the window to let us know they were back. I mixed the sugar and water
mix straight away and within minutes they were feeding and even joined by four others.
May 6, 2012
What a gorgeous day. Comfortable temperatures, dry and sunny, no mosquitoes yet and waking up
to the distinctive song of the Baltimore Oriole (#60 fm & 61 m - bottom of page) outside our
window. Within a couple of hours we spotted his bright orange and black colors in the apple tree, his
favourite place. The first this summer was followed by several but sadly the bird does not have the
choice of the two apple trees top of the hill, one fell and broke apart during the record breaking
snow fall last October. During the day, Synthia spotted a magnificent Indigo Bunting (#s 57-59 ) and
a little later a Rose Breasted Grosbeak. (#56) The Indigo Bunting did me the honer of standing next
to a male Cardinal - wow what colors (#57). We now have our full contingent of Barn Swallows
along with the Red Bellied woodpecker (#62) and Downey Woodpecker (#65). The yard is full of
action and fascination. Today as well a pair of Purple Finches (#55) and lots of Blue Jays (#64). Bill
and Ellen at Dragonfly Farm opposite called us over to see six reindeer (#66) in one of their fields. I
grabbed my camera but while I was at a distance, I managed a few shots while above me the Redtail
Hawk circled (#66). All photos are at bottom of this page - Copyright: Colin Andrews
April 19, 2012
Another first for this summer, the Swallowtail butterfly. Just the one.
April 18, 2012
The first sighting of what we so look forward to each spring, the return of the Barn Swallows who
nest each year under the old red barn. Today I saw the first to arrive back from winter in Brazil -
always a pleasure to behold. Same family, same building, same nests but this year 11 days earlier than
2010. They will be with us now while bringing along new families until mid August when they again
will head back to Brazil. Today I also saw two frogs in our small stream, first this year. No leafs on
the trees yet and yesterday reached upper 80s - strange weather.
April 16, 2012
Synthia nearly walked on a good healthy sized Garter snake today in the back yard - the first we have
seen this year.
March 22, 2012
First Carpenter Bee of the season. Last year the first butterfly and Carpenter Bee were seen on April
26th - a full month early this year.
March 19, 2012
The first butterfly of the season seen, it was a Cabbage White. Large numbers of insects on the
move, i.e. Flies and ants. Have seen several Ticks already (one embedded in me). This is one of the
mildest Springs on record here in the US north east and also many other parts of the world.
Numerous records broken, all of them due to warmer than normal temperatures. We only had two
snow storms during the winter, the October 2011 was one of the worst ever seen for October but
since then we have gotten off very light.
October 29 2011
Worst oct snow storm in recorded history. lost power at 4.25 pm. 3 million lost power - numerous
trees down. leaves still on trees and 12 inches of wet heavy snow plus wind sdid damege.Millions
without power after US Northeast snowstorm
By Lauren Keiper: BOSTON | Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:21pm EDT:
(Reuters) - Devastation from the rare and deadly October snowstorm lingered in the Northeast on
Monday, leaving 2.2 million houses without power, closing schools, snarling the morning commute
and postponing Halloween fun.The storm that raged from West Virginia to Maine from Saturday until
late Sunday was blamed for at least eight deaths, most of them on slippery roads.Many roads were
still barricaded to steer traffic away from downed trees and power lines. Ghost and goblin
decorations were blanketed with record snowfall in many places for October, such as 32 inches (81
cm) measured in the western Massachusetts town of Peru, according to the National Weather
Service.Across the Northeast, more than 2.2 million customers remained without power on Monday
August 28, 2011
Catagory 1 hurricane Irene made a direct hit on Connecticut and the north east coast causing severe
damage. President Obama declared a national disacter area and declared a state of emergency. We
lost power at 4.20 am and the first of nine trees fell at around 5.0 am. Almost everyone had trees and
wires down. We had no electricity for five days along with two million others. Photos HERE.
August 3, 2011
A week ago ( July 26th) Synthia called me while I was in England to tell me that our Barn Swallows
had lines up with their young on the overhead electricity cables nearby, as usual and had left. They
had left a small contingency behind and we assumed these to be the young ones not yet ready for the
trip south. This was several weeks earlier than we had known before.
When I returned on the 3rd August I witnessed what I had also seen in England, a serious lack of
butterflies. Even the budlea bushes completely deviod of them except for one or two Monarchs and
Swallowtails. Even the bees, bumble bees, wasps, flies and mosquetos significantly down in numbers.
We had a long cold winter but was this the reason?
June 10, 2011
The first Monach butterfly of the season.
June 9, 2011
We are at last seeing temperatures getting warmer, in fact hotter. Around low 90s and even in the
low 100's around New York and Washington. We paid for that today with two thunderstorms during
the night. The second storm around 2.0AM came with vivid lightning (#s52-53 below). Later,
during the late afternoon another storm. This one turned daylight to equal to any dark night in
seconds as it came over the hill and trees to our west. One bolt of lightning hit a tree just beyond our
eastern boundary and I was lucky enough to capture it on my camera (#54 below). Winds were
around 60 mph and took many trees down, not around the farm. We lost power several times.
June 4, 2011
First cut of hay harvested and collected to stack in the barn for the horses.
|Local Weather Photos:
Most recent at the bottom.
East Coast Blizzard from Guilford,
Connecticut, Dec 20th 2009.
Supercell Thunderstorm, Guilford,
Connecticut, June 26, 2009.
Ferocious Snow Storm sweeps East
Coast, March 3, 2009.
Early Snow on Swallowtail Farm,
Connecticut, 19-20 December 2008
Third Blizzard - Guilford, Branford,
Connecticut, February 11, 2010
More snow - Guilford, Connecticut,
February 16, 2010
Historic Blizzard - Guilford and local,
January 12, 2011.
Worse Snow Storm in Memory -
Guilford and local, January 31, 2011
Three severe tunderstorms in a day -
Lightning, North Guilford. June 9, 2011
Catagory 1 Hurricane Irene hits
Connecticut - Local photos, August
Worst October snow storm on record. -
power lost to millions, Oct 29-30, 2011.
The Biggest Snow Fall I have ever
witnessed: Storm 'Nemo' February 8-9,
Long snowy winter of 2014-2015
|What is this?
#67 is straight out of the camera.
#68 is slightly sharpened and shows
what looks like antenna or
clews/hooks at the end of the
March 29, 2013
At 1.0 PM today I got a good close up of the first butterfly Ive spotted this year. This is always a
very special sight. It was a very animated, excited 'Spicebush Swallowtail' not hanging around and
heading west across our back yard. You can see one taken by me in previous years #32. While on
that page enjoy the sounds of the creatures we are here to ensure are taken care of. Enjoy, speakers
March 23, 2013
Synthia spotted the first spectacular orange and yellow Baltimore Oriole in the back yard.
February 25, 2013
Two days ago the first real sign that spring is getting close. The Robin is back and yesterday the
Grackles and Red Wing Blackbirds too. Today walking little Emma, our new lost dog, a pair of Red
Tail Hawks circling overhead and screeching out to each other. The whole vibe speaks of spring and
after a long few weeks of deep snow cover, we are ready. Photos below are of the first Robin and a
Mom and young deer, in close looking for food. The snow cover has made it hard for them also.
|The Robin is back which is a welcome sign that spring is close. The deer, in close looking for food after a long spell of deep
snow cover. Copyright: Colin Andrews
April 24, 2013
The first Ruby Throated Hummingbird and also for here the quite rare Towhee in the garden.
Yesterday, Synthia saw a hummingbird on her way back from Guilford and so I filled the feeder and
only had to wait 24 hours.
April 18, 2013
Yesterday the not so good news of the first Carpenter Bee, today the good news, the joy of the Barn
Swallow back to their home under the barn, where else. We love these guys. Great keeping the
mosquitoes down and great fun to watch as they prepare nests, feed young and teach them skills
before departing again back to south America in the fall. Its fascinating to compare the arrival dates
with previous years: 2012=18th Same day, 2011=25th, 2010=29th, 2009= 15th. So the guys are
about one week ahead of recent years. Note also that the Carpenter bees showed up on the 26th April
in 2011 but March 22 in 2012. So for them they 26 days later than last year.
April 17, 2013
We value wildlife here at Swallowtail Farm but there are the good and not so good that happens.
Today an example of the not so good, I spotted the first Carpenter Bee of the season. He was
checking out a spot at the back of the horse stalls. These guys bore into any wooden structure with
holes half an inch diameter and deep. They can destroy good solid fixtures in no time and there is little
you can do to discourage them. If you know of a way please drop me an email HERE
April 2, 2013
The Maple Syrup buckets are filling around the area, the grass is beginning to grow (at last) and this
morning Synthia called me from her cellphone up the road from the farm, to tell me she was looking
at the first Osprey to be seen this year. I grabbed the camera and was there within 5 minutes which is
when the photograph below was taken. The wind is still cold and gusty winds continue, something
which has been a noticeable change from the norm. For me, a measure of the amount of energy
being created by the temperature mixing that is taking place globally. Wondering what the hurricane
season has waiting for us this year?
|April 2, 2013
A spectacular bird, the Osprey - first this
May 10, 2013
A pair of Chipmunks appeared near the bird feeder in the back yard for a spring fill after a long winter
hibernation. Also a wonderful pair of brightly colored Baltimore Oriole's, my favourite bird (#60 and
61 below). The coloring is so rich and unbelievable but doing what they enjoy, eating the freshly
flowering apple blossom. To top off the day, three ruby throated hummingbirds, not the first but the
numbers within a few minutes of each other is nice to see. The Barn Swallows are I think down in
numbers but are busy building and repairing nests in their usual spot, under the barn. Temperatures
beginning to pick up a bit, at least the cold chilly wind has gone.
June 28, 2012
This morning something was very noticeable! The loud buzz of the Cicada was missing. The 17 year
long cycle of the Cicada has ended for another 17 years. See June 3 below when the first ones
emerged. The sound was like a large jet aircraft stood revving its engines at the end of the runway
before take off, except it never took off.
June 3, 2013
Had the first high profile display of flashing green lights of the Lightning Bugs in the field opposite our
house. An amazing sight and looking much like a sparkling Christmas card scene.
Today also the Cicada (#69 below)chorus began and saw the first one in our yard. These creatures
wait underground for 17 years before they dig their way out and for six weeks make loud sounds as
part of the mating process. The US East coast in the only place in the world where this particular
Cicada lives. Its estimated there will be around 1,000,000 per acre. See #69 below, taken today.
May 31, 2013
A larger than normal population of ticks. We live just a couple miles from Lyme, where the nasty
disease was discovered associated with ticks, especially deer ticks and hence named Lyme Disease.
We are finding several each day, either on our animals (Dog and Cats) or ourselves.
|Thanks to David Hurlburt (USA)
The 17-Year Cicadas
|July 9, 2013 - Yesterday's surprise in the yard, a very confident
Albino Squirrel with a touch of orange on him.
June 2, 2014
First dragonfly in the back yard.
May 19, 2014
The Woodchuck surfaced from her long winter.
May 4, 2014
First Hummingbird and also Baltimore Oriele of the seaso.
April 23, 2014
This afternoon at 5.0 pm I saw for the first time ever, a bat flying catching food in broad daylight. My
assumption is that it has young and was venturing unusually in daylight. I was able to catch a
photograph of him HERE
April 11, 2014
First butterfly of the year and also the Barn Swallows and Sand martin's arrived. Only a couple of Barn
Swallows made it so far.
March 24, 2014
The winter weather continues into our spring. There are hundreds of ground birds, the Robin's in
particular looking for worms etc in frozen earth. Last night the minimum temperatured was 18F, rising
only to 32F (freezing) at 3.0 PM. Late tomorrow they forecast severe winds and snow.
March 19, 2014
Today I saw the first chipmonk of the year running out from the old stone wall to gather some seeds
from below the bird feeder. Also the first spectacular Bluebirds. Robins are plentiful along with lots of
Redwing Blackbirds. Still the long cold winter is hanging on. Its been a long snowy winter - some
photos: 1 - 2 - 3
February 23, 2014
A flock of Red Wing Blackbirds arrived in the yard, the first of them seen this year. Also the arrival of
the first Grackle. Have not seen anything more of the Bald Eagle. Ground still snow covered and all
wildlife, including the deer finding difficulty finding food. A you deer was in the garden eating what it
could find of bird seed and also our pine hedge.
February 8, 2014
It has been a severe winter thus far (Right panel). Several substantial snow storms and ice. The most
extreme side of the weather has been the cold, many nights down to single digits (4F around -16C).
Temperatures well below freezing both day and night for long periods of time. Three weeks ago we
experienced frozen hot and cold pipes and shower on the second floor of the house and water to the
barn also - first time since we moved here, ten years ago. Right are photos of two of the storms, one
dropping 12-14 inches of snow which is not melting one bit. On the bright side, we saw the first
Robin's yesterday (7th). Unusual to see so many Eastern Towhee (#72 below) in the garden. On the 2nd
February, our neighbors Ellen and Bill Rusconi Black phoned to say there was a Bald Eagle in our back
yard which was the greatest pleasure of the season, so far. Photo #70-71 below. The Pheasant (#73)
looking for water, waiting for a drop to fall from the spout of this disused water pump.
July 9, 2013
Yesterday a spectacular visitor to our back yard, an all time first for us, an Albino Squirrel. More
photos and other recent wildlife photos can be seen in my wildlife photography section.
|2014-Severe Winter - North Guilford, Connecticut.
|Long Island Sound, an extension of The Atlantic
Ocean is frozen for quarter of a mile out to sea -
this taken at Stony Creek.
July 5, 2014
Saw several Monarch butterflies, the first this summer. The two crows that have attached themselves
have produced two you who have now left the nest and flying across the back yard all together as one
family. Its a nice feeling to see them acting out like spoilt children, mouths open and squawking for their
parents to feed them, even though they are fully as big as them.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Black Swallowtail Butterfly - also on right.
|Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly
|Giant Swallowtail Butterfly - not native to the north east. Not seen by us here before. -
Photo: 31 July, 2014
September 29, 2014
As the fall leafs begin to enter color, we again say goodbye to Summer and wonder what winter will be
like. The record snow and ice of last winter along with frozen pipes and constant shovelling for weeks on
end, is the last thing we look forward to.
The summer has been a good one, less humidity and excessive heat than normal, but it did have its
moments. No big hurricanes but a few big thunderstorms. Here for the record are some temperatures
recorded on the west side of the house during last winter:
Jan 27th 2014 at 10.30am= 42F and minimum last night= 19F
28th at 10.30am= 16F and min last night= 12F
29th at 1.0pm= 21F and min last night= 16F
30th at 10.30am= 22F and min last night=7F ( minus 14.4444 C )
31st at 8.0am= 29F and min last night=17F
Feb 1st 2014 at 9.30am= 39F and min last night=30F
6th at 6.0 pm= 23F
8th at noon= 26F and min last night= 15F
12th at 8.15am= 11F and min last night 6F ( minus 14.444 C)
27th at 11.30am= 32F and min last night= 10F
28th at noon= 19F and min last night= 6F
29th at 6.30am=14F and min last night= 13F
March 3rd at 7.0 pm= 19F and min last 24hrs= 18F
4th at 11.30am= 28F and min last night= 10F
6th at 10.0am= 19F and min last night= 12F
14th at 1.0pm= 35F and min last night= 16F
18th at 11.0am= 32F and min last night= 21F
August 2, 2014
Living up to its name, 'Swallowtail Farm' in the last few days has seen a great range of Swallowtail
butterflies (See below). The Giant Swallowtail isn't even native to the north east of the United States and
what a super surprise to find this beauty this week. All photo taken on the farm.
February 14, 2016 FINAL, FINALLY!!
OK, not a reason for anything other, in my view, re-confirmation that we are now well into climate
change, and Mother Earth's reaction to what she has to attempt to self correct. The extreme
temperatures, both record highs and record lows, coming together within hours is what I long anticipated
in the mixing process. When she levels out, it will be on the plus side of todays norms. These norms will
become less extreme in swings but much higher as the average - hence global warming. Example: Last
night dipped into dangerous territory here, breaking record from 1920 at -24.44 C, or -9F. Today its
below zero F. Tomorrow we are forecast for snow, then ice, then rain and into Tuesday mid to low 50s
(F) and around 30 degs above normal. Yes, within 36 hours a swing of some 60 degs (F) which is
extreme and well outside of what one should expect. Matter of interest, Mount Washington got down to
-24F or -31C. The wind chill was -80F or -62C. We should be preparing for major changes of all kinds.
December 14, 2015 FINAL ENTRY - BUT ONE MORE, ABOVE
Today sees even more record warmth, New York at 70F and the warmest since 1923. Blossoms and
crocus blooming and Redwing blackbirds returning from whens they went a few weeks ago. Today, Ive
decided will be the last farm entry which was established to gain some ideas of changes on wildlife around
the farm, during climate change. With action agreed at Paris, Climate Change Conference, I feel this is a
good time to stop.
December 4, 2015
The autumn and now early winter is much milder than normal. Today I saw a Cabbage White butterfly
which I believe is the latest Ive ever seen a butterfly of any kind.
November 28, 2015 OVERVIEW OF YEAR SO FAR
This has been a somewhat distressing season in several ways. For the planet, Connecticut being no
exception, we have seen exceptional long periods without rain and many variety's of insects and animals
appear to be adjusting. Less Bumble Bees and Honey Bees and also Butterflies. More ants and at the
beginning of the season, more ticks, including the discovery of a new type in the town next door which
carries an even more serious disease than Lyme and can be fatal in just hours. We saw the largest crop of
apples ever which is widely thought to happen when trees are stressed and begin to take steps to create
And besides natures stresses we also tragically lost two of our neighbors, brother and sister, Jim and Ellen
Rusconi, who were also our friends. Both leaving within a few months of each other, November 7th, and
April 26th, respectfully. This wonderful corner of North Guilford isn't the same without them. See photos
Not to mention my own stay in the Intensive Care Unit at New Haven, Yale hospital with very serious
condition known as Ludwigs Angina, caused by a cracked tooth. That was in March which was followed
by my eldest Grand-daughter, Erin who was also rushed into the ICU after suffering very serious injures,
following a serious car crash in nearby Branford, in August. - No, not a good year at Swallowtail Farm.
August 9, 2015
The count of butterflies (all types) very low as well as Honey Bees, Bumble Bees and Wasps. Small ants
abound everywhere, outside as well as inside. I have noted that certain weeds have grown taller than
usual. Lots of Apples but small number of Peaches. As of writing, this part of Connecticut is in
moderate drought. Blue Wing Wasps are here in reasonable numbers (See photos below)
May 8, 2015
Arrival of two pairs of the most spectacularly colored birds, the Baltimore Oriole. They usually arrive as
the Apple Blossom flowers. Perfect timing again and immediately they set about enjoy picking off the
May 5, 2015
A (the) pair of Ruby Throated Hummingbirds arrived and sat outside the kitchen window. A touching
sight and certain this is our usual pair. They sit on the same branches and one sat next to the location I
usually place their sugar water feeder (now filled and in use).
April 28, 2015
First Carpenter Bees and a single Monarch butterfly. A sudden and alarming number of Ticks. The CDC
have warned about a new very serious disease called Powassan virus which has been found in the Tick
population in North Branford, Connecticut, a quarter mile from our home.
April 26, 2015
The sudden tragic loss of our friend and neighbor, Ellen Rusconi Black (Photos above)
April 21, 2015
Following a thunderstorm during the early hours as warm air came up from the Gulf and colder from the
north west, the first Barn Swallow arrived. This date compares with April 15, 2009 - April 29, 2010 -
March 26, 2015
Colin taken into emergency procedure and intensive care at New Haven Hospital.
March 18, 2015
Still around 65% snow cover. Flocks of Redwing Blackbirds arriving and saw the first Robin.
March 13, 2015
First Redwing Blackbird this year.
February 24, 2015
Another exceptionally cold winter and numerous snow storms, so far, especially since Christmas. We
have had beteen 14-24" of snow on the ground for much of that time. The total snow accumilation in
Boston reached a record 90" plus falling within a three week period - amazing. In our house, we
experienced frozen pipes on the 2nd floor and went without heat on that floor until it was resolved.
Temperatures that night dipped to -8 F (-22.222 C)and again this record temperature was recorded during
the early hours of today (24th Feb). See a few photos HERE. The wildlife has been coming in close to
the house, especially the bird feeder for food with 100% snow and ice covered. Two of our most
enjoyed sights, as if they are not all that, is the Mom deer with her young one. They noticably adore one
another. The second one off and unexpected first was a Monk Parrot. The Monk Parrot is flowishing
along the Connecticut coastline. This is the first time Ive seen it this far inland. I took #75, 76 and 77
below. More interesting information about this parrot HERE
|April 26, 2015: The sudden and devastating passing of our neighbor, Ellen Rusconi Black - April 26, 2015
|Ellen and Bill during hay harvest
|Ellen with one of her adorable Welsh Collies
|Blue Wing Wasp - back yard, August 9, 2015
|Erin in Yale ICU with broken neck,
back, ribs and serious leg injury.
|Colin in Yale ICU with very
serious condition, Ludwig Angina.
|Jim on one of his many tractors, pulling Jamie out of a snow drift - Dec 2012
|Febuary, 2016 - heavy snow, record low
temperatures. Large willow toppled by
weight of snow.
|Over a foot of wet snow before deep freeze,
took trees and branches down. Behind Synthia is
our beautiful Chinese Maple - Feb 2016.
|WHAT IS GOING ON WITH NATURE
AROUND THE FARM?
Posted June 4, 2016