The most popular of 2009

Yesterday I highlighted what my favourite posts of the last year were, choosing one per month (and leaving out many that were probably just as worthy as a result). As a related idea, last year I also summarized what the most popular posts of the year were, and I thought I’d also do that again this year. WordPress keeps tabs not only on how many visitors your site gets, but also which pages they’re visiting. By far and away the page that gets the most visits is my home page, with the blog stats returning 33,333 hits in the last 365 days, as of this evening. My “About Me” page also gets quite a few. But what about the others? What are people looking for?

Eastern Milk Snake

Well, most people are looking to find more about milk snakes. Although I don’t typically rank very high on the Google web searches, my photos can often be found on the first handful of pages of results for relevant search terms. I think this is how most people searching for milk snakes, or even just “snake”, arrive here. In a search for “eastern milk snake”, the above photo even makes the first page, and I suppose is different enough to catch people’s interest. A grand total of 7,861 people dropped by to check out the milk snake post.

Grapevine Beetle and ladybug

Compared to the milk snake, all of the rest of my posts have a rather paltry visit count. The next closest, if you can still even call it close, is my grapevine beetle post. The above photo comes up on the first page of image results for “grapevine beetle”, and probably accounts for much of the traffic. There aren’t very many images on that first page that offer a sense of scale, so perhaps that’s why this one is interesting. Over the last year, this post got 2,139 people visiting.

Poison Ivy

Ranked number three, with just 1,509 hits, is my post on poison ivy. Given just how many pages there are out there about the subject, it’s surprising that it gets even that much regular traffic. It doesn’t come up on the first few pages of Google results.

White Pine and fallen brethren

Coming in fourth is my post on White Pines, the Tree of Great Peace. It collected 1,298 page views over the last year. It’s likewise a commonly discussed subject, so visitors must be coming by way of more detailed searches.

House Centipede

I’m a little surprised that my fifth-ranked post, about house centipedes, isn’t higher on the list considering how creepy most people find them. On the other hand, so many people find them creepy, there’s lots of web content about them. It had 1,292 hits.

Blackfly larvae

Number six is about water bugs – a handful of species of invertebrates that I found in some pond water samples. Although the post mentions a number of species, I suspect many, if not most, of the 1,264 visitors were searching for info on blackfly larvae, the corresponding photo of which, above, comes up on the first page of Google image search results for the subject.

Isabella Moth (Wooly Bear Caterpillar) - Pyrrharctia isabella

The seventh post, I’m delighted to say, is about a few colourful moths. Yay moths! I would hazard a guess that the particular moth most of the visitors were interested in was the Isabella Tiger Moth, above, which is the adult form of our very familiar Woolly Bear caterpillar. The above photo is the very first image returned for the Google image search “Wooly bear caterpillar moth” (number two if you spell woolly with two L’s). It’s had 1,235 visitors over the last year.

Caribbean  Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)

Some 1,185 people have come by to check out my post on flamingos. The post was titled “pink flamingos for the yard” and I’ve noticed a number of search terms on my stats pages indicating people looking for plastic lawn flamingos. These ones probably weren’t what they were looking for; they were captive birds kept by a neighbour down the road from my parents’ old house who bred them and sold them to zoological institutions.

Snapping Turtle eggs

I noticed that as soon as my post on snapping turtle eggs went up last June that it started getting a lot of hits. In just half a year it’s accumulated 1,149 page views. It’s a shame that the eggs I found had been depredated already, but hopefully the post at least offered some useful information.

Giant Water Bug

And rounding out my top ten, the only other one with more than a thousand hits (1,007 total), was my post on giant water bugs. This one got picked up on a web forum – for video game animation or something weird like that – which still brings me periodic hits. The popularity, I think, is partly due to the post’s title, “monster bug”. One of the photos comes up on the second page of Google image results for that term.

It’s interesting to note that only two of these ten posts are actually from 2009: the white pine and the snapping turtle. All the rest are from 2008.


The best of 2009

Black-capped Chickadees

Yesterday was my two-year “blogoversary”. (I actually thought today was, which is why I didn’t post yesterday; it was only in going back to review last year’s post that I realized my error.) I first put metaphorical pen to paper here at The Marvelous in Nature on January 12, 2008. It’s hard to believe two years have flown by already. Not including this one, I have written 449 posts here to date; 222 of those were since my one-year blogoversary post. That works out to about one every 1.6 days. This was probably boosted considerably by my habit of writing more frequently – sometimes up to five times a week – during the summer. I can’t sustain that sort of pace during the winter, when it’s more like one post every 2.3 days.

I thought in celebration of reaching the two-year mark I’d select my favourite posts from 2009 and re-share them here for those who might have missed them the first time, or would just like to enjoy them again. I did this last year, as well; for me, it’s fun to have a chance to review the past year and remember all of my interesting and exciting observations. Two-hundred twenty-two posts is a lot of writing; it was hard to select just twelve as my favourites, but I finally narrowed it down. So without further ado: the best of 2009!

Canadian picnic table

JanuaryI and the Bird #92 – The Picnic Party
I looked through all of my January posts from last year, and I had some interesting observations, but I finally settled on this one. I had a lot of fun when writing the poem, and I still have fun when I go back to read it. I’m hosting I and the Bird #117 next Thursday, nearly one year to the day from the picnic party edition.

Hoary Redpoll

FebruaryThe old man redpoll
We had a couple of Hoary Redpolls visit our feeders in February, and I discussed a bit about them, as well as identification tips to tell them from Commons.

Pileated Woodpecker

MarchA place to call home
While out wandering the woods with Raven I came across a female Pileated Woodpecker working on excavating her nest. She was very unconcerned with us, and kept working away even as I ran off dozens of photos from just below.

Wood Frogs

AprilWood frog love
While visiting some crown land north of the previous house I found a couple of female Wood Frogs being mauled by amorous suitors.

Canadian Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis

MayFlowers of the heart
Columbine are among my favourite wildflowers, and they were fairly common in the rocky habitat around the lake house. I hope we have some around here, too! We arrived too late last summer for them to still be in bloom. My sister got me one for my birthday last year, so I can enjoy them close to the house.


JuneIt’s a bug-eat-bug world
I collected up a number of photos of invertebrates I had encountered with prey (mostly spiders), and shared them together.

Spoon-leaved Sundew, Drosera spatulata

JulyThe plant that eats meat
Sundew are one of my favourite native plants, but are so rarely encountered because of their specialized habitat requirements that make them very local in distribution. I got a chance to check some out with the canoe on one visit to Rock Ridge this summer.


AugustL’otter fun
One morning, while I was sitting at the banding site at the Rock Ridge MAPS station, a family of otters swam by, through the water lilies and along the small lake below.


SeptemberBlack and blue and wet all over
When our landlord came to shut down the pool for the summer, he found a Blue-spotted Salamander in the filter intake, and brought it to share with me.

Netted Stinkhorn, Dictyophora duplicata

OctoberEau de la viande pourrie
My coolest mycological find of the year was this Netted Stinkhorn, one of a small handful I found over in the 100-acre woods.


NovemberWinterizing the brain
November’s a tough month for nature blogger – you’re suffering the post-summer letdown from the biological high you were riding for the last seven months, and in your slightly stupefied state of wildlife withdrawal it’s hard to come up with good content. As an exercise to help overcome the naturalist’s-block, I examine the small square of lichen-covered rock above.

Northern Cardinal

DecemberAll dressed in red
The cardinal that I first wrote about in this post still continues to grace us with his presence at the feeders. It’s good to see him doing so well!