Wednesday, July 31, 2013

[jules' pics] Utah trees

Utah trees don't seem that much healthier than the ones in Wyoming.
cactus tree

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/31/2013 03:00:00 PM

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hornet story part 2

As some might have guessed, those "pets" are rather docile, to the point of pining for the fjords.

Shortly after I was stung, jules said she spotted another hornet in the same vicinity. So on Thursday morning, we went down there for a closer look. As soon as we approached and got off the bike, we noticed them whizzing backwards and forwards across the road and into and out of a tree trunk where they obviously had a nest, though we didn't get close. It was right on the main road, where lots of cyclists and pedestrians pass by each day, so I'm pretty surprised it had not already been reported. It's the tree right in the middle of the picture, just to the left of the rubbish station (where the local residents leave their bin bags to be collected every morning). The building behind is the public toilet in Kamakura-gu. It's hard to believe I'm the only one to have been stung there.

We took this pic to identify the spot and went straight off to the city office, in the hope that they would deal with it, though I didn't know what the procedure was. I had hardly managed to stumble over pronouncing "suzumebachi" (hornet) to the lady on reception before she replied (in Japanese) "ah, you want desk 29, straight down the corridor". At the appointed desk, we managed to talk to the hornet man, who apologised for being really busy, and said he wouldn't be able to do anything until...the next afternoon. I think we were lucky to catch him first thing in the morning before he went out for his day full of appointments.

However, on the way home that night, it had already been dealt with. It turns out that the tree was completely hollow at its base, and the nest had been poisoned and removed, though there were still a few larvae wriggling around and some lonely hornets buzzing around disconsolately.

Jules picked up a couple of corpses for the sake of identification, and we are pretty confident that they are yellow hornets, which the web tells us are rather aggressive around their nests and in fact the most common stingers in Japan. They are quite similar to the European hornet, but perhaps a bit nastier (according to some web pages).

I just hope the survivors won't tell their friends up in the forest that it was all my fault...

[jules' pics] Our new pets

Yellow Hornet
Yellow Hornet
Yellow Hornet
Yellow Hornet
So now I know how all those hornet pics on the interweb were taken (Google Images for "Japanese hornet" to see them). Most of those are of the monstrous Osuzumebachi not our cutey wee kirosuzumebachi which are only the size of the hornets they have in normal countries...

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/27/2013 04:23:00 PM

Thursday, July 25, 2013

[jules' pics] Arches

All arches, but not all in Arches National Park. One of them is in Canyonlands.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/25/2013 04:56:00 PM

Monday, July 22, 2013


There was an old man of St. Bees Kamakura,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp hornet,
When asked, "Does it hurt?"
He replied, "No, it doesn't Yes,
I'm so glad it wasn't a hornet But the swelling is going down now."
(with apologies to W. S. Gilbert)
After all the photos of hornets in the locality, I suppose it was only a matter of time. I was minding my own business, cycling off to [a sneaky early morning swim before] work on Friday, when I suddenly felt the proverbial hot nail in my arm. I didn't get a good look at it, and by the time I'd stopped the bike it had gone, so I'm not quite sure what type it was, but it certainly wasn't as big as the huge monsters we sometimes see and I assumed it was just a wasp of some sort.

On Saturday, however, the swelling spread from my fingers almost to my shoulder, and my forearm was also blistering a bit. So I toddled off to a doctor who got a nurse to smear my arm in gunk and wrap it up like a mummy, and also prescribed various potions and pills. I suppose with hindsight it would probably have been better to go sooner, but it really didn't seem bad on Friday.

The shiny sheen is some cream, but my hand is not usually this shape or colour! Unlike what people say about mukade (centipede) bites, it never made me feel ill, but the swelling did make it dificult to grip things or bend my arm much. I've had a google for likely species, and based on what I've read I think it might have been any of a giant hornet (though if so, not a huge model), or the yellow hornet, or perhaps one of these paper wasps (ashinaga, long-legged, in Japanese). But as I said, I didn't really see more than a quick glimpse of a yellow and black striped body, facing away from me.

The Doctor warned me (and the intenet concurs) that the first sting is usually safety, but the second one is very danger, due to the chance of an anaphylactic shock. Not sure what can be done really, living where we do. But although there are about 20 deaths per year in japan (making the hornet the most dangerous animal here by some distance), this is stil a very small number really, when you compare it to eg 15 deaths per day on the roads. So I don't think there is anything to panic about. There seems to be a possibility of a blood test to diagnose an allergy, which I will look into.

Anyway, by Monday night it's just about back to normal.

[jules' pics] Green to red - Wyoming to Utah

Tetons Tree
Grand Tetons

Overnight in Pinedale, with its designer wind and squeaky signs, bijou beer brewery and historical log cabins.

Somewhere along the way, in Wyoming or Utah, green turns to red.

My sister-in-law, Helen, has a luxurious camper-van in which she sometimes lives. Curiously, it is closer to the size of the jeep than the RV towing the jeep. Wonder how she manages.

Travelling towards Moab, the rocks get bigger and redder.
orange flowers and red rocks
The orange flower is easy - it is mallow.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/22/2013 08:15:00 PM

Saturday, July 20, 2013

[jules' pics] Tetons

Probably not actually Tetons, but here is James looking vaguely Teton-wards from Yellowstone Lake.
By lunchtime we were enjoying closer views of the Grand Tetons and spotting wildlife in the grassland.
Suppose I could have saved the third photo in the last post for this set. Instead, here's a raven posing in front of the same mountain.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/20/2013 09:05:00 PM

Friday, July 19, 2013

[jules' pics] Mountains

I had not seen them before, but it's true what the TV programmes say - Yellowstone is surrounded by snowy mountains. Having said that, the third photo is a Teton (a few miles south of Yellowstone).

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/19/2013 02:11:00 PM

Thursday, July 18, 2013

[jules' pics] Trees

If trees were going to learn to walk, Yellowstone would be a good place to refine the art. Happy seed sprouts and starts growing in the sunshine. A few years later something shifts underground and the nutrient filled water that fed the roots turns to poison. The poor trees, unable to run away, are forced to suck it all up and it kills them quite quickly.
This one obviously managed to thrash around a bit, even if didn't actually get away.
While this one died so fast it is still smiling.
Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps those green trees in the background did get up and walk away...

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/18/2013 04:55:00 PM

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

[jules' pics] White and orange

Mammoth's mammoth formations
This pronghorn (spotted in the Lamar Valley) was not stuffed, honest guv.

Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/17/2013 02:04:00 PM

Saturday, July 13, 2013

[jules' pics] spurtle

geysers geysering...





Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 7/13/2013 11:00:00 AM