Sunday: Hili dialogue, Marsh Farm rush hour, tweets and Secret Duck Farmer report

November 10, 2019 • 3:47 am

by Matthew Cobb

In Poland, Hili is snoozing in the sun:

Hili: May I lie down here?
A: For how long?
Hili: For some time.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy mogę się tu położyć?
Ja: Na długo?
Hili: Na jakiś czas.
At Marsh Farm rush hour, the cat goes in, while the ducks come out:


Extraordinary video of an ichneumon parasitoid wasp trying to locate its beetle larva prey/host for its babies. Look at how she bends back her antennae, gradually getting closer to a point above the larva deep inside the wood. What sensory modality is it using? Chemoreception (in which case the smell of the larva would have to get through all that woody material) or some kind of sonar? The way she drums her antennae and brings them closer and closer together suggests the latter:

And finally, two Secret Duck Farmer reports:

There were 28 ducks for lunch, and 28 ducks for breakfast. At least I think so:  I have trouble counting them. They refuse to line up and sound off.

At lunchtime, it was a tad warmer: I think it was up to 40 degrees, and we had a little sunshine. But over the next three days we are expecting it to become cold. We will be lucky if we get UP to freezing.

One grad student asked, “Are we going to have to bring the ducks inside?” I got a laugh out of that.

Another grad student told me that he has seen the ducks asleep at midnight. They had their heads tucked under and they were floating together in a circle.

The other secret duck farmer sent two photos and said, ” I thought you’d both enjoy the partly iced over pond images ”

19 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue, Marsh Farm rush hour, tweets and Secret Duck Farmer report

  1. “Another grad student told me that he has seen the ducks asleep at midnight.”

    That’s a grad student who knows how to do it.

    Cool wasp and word list.

  2. I think the ichneumonid wasp (I love that word) is narrowing down a scent to tiny holes the larvae have made and hid themselves in…. or perhaps both that and detecting vibration- why not?

    1. Forty years ago, when I lived in the country briefly, I saw my first one, and it had a two foot long “tail.” It was just sort of floating by, an was amazed that it was attached to a insect. Since then I have seen one other, closely resembling the one above.

      But the first time I see something like that live, and and discovered out what it can do— I feel honored, to have been there at the right moment.

  3. It looks like the pond will have to obey the laws of physics and harden over. The ducks will surely obey the laws of migration and head south – or to some open water somewhere.

    The baby turtle must be getting a slow supply of air through the pores in the shell before hatching. The first breath must seem pretty exciting. And what about that first glance at his surroundings?

  4. I wonder if the fowl come out in approximately the same order each day during the morning rush hour. I do notice the big white ducks seem to be the first out, at least.
    A hypothesis to be tested…

  5. Why are the words AA, EE and ZZZ in alphabetical order. And are they actually words? Sort of a strange way to waste one’s time, that tweet.

    1. Indeed – I said I liked the list, assuming they were actual bona fide words. After it loaded up, I realized many “words” are bogus.

    2. “Alphabetical order” commonly implies that repeats of the same letter are permitted – that’s how sorted lists work normally. Those alphabetically ordered words are indeed all words & they are compiled from the CSW19 [the Collins English dictionary Scrabble Words 2019 list] – “aa” for example is a form of lava.

      1. Well I’ll be – aa. Hawaiian, as expected.

        I’m not sure about ee.

        Still, it’s have been appropriate to note the “list of words” is composed of Scrabble-grade words, or that they literally are every word in English – even including words in use from other languages.

        1. No. It is an English word used in geology that derived from another language, just like every word that exists today in English except for the rare words coined by an English speaker [portmanteau? for example]. If it’s in the Collins English Dictionary you can confidently say it’s as English as Roast Beef – “Beef” being derived & corrupted from Norman French I think.

        2. PS in the Scrabble world “Collins Official Scrabble Words 2019 is the most comprehensive Scrabble™ word list ever” including World English from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, and USA brought together in a single list. With more than 279,000 permissible words, including inflected forms” – I don’t know foe sure, but I suppose it contains, for example both “honor” & “honour” as legit English words.

          1. Sounds like a book to have near the dictionary.

            Know what – it’s time for me to get a new Scrabble set. Thank you Michael Fisher – and whomever ran that script.

              1. Oh, is that what it is? I’m thinking just put it on an IKEA turntable, or even a hardware-store style thing.

    3. Whoever actually generated the list, it was probably accomplished in a few seconds by programming a Unix grep line or a short program in lisp, etc. Then whoever it was could move on to more important things, like playing scrabble.

Leave a Reply