Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday December 2016

Wildlife Wednesday, hosted by Tina at "My Gardener says..." the first Wednesday of each month, provides an opportunity to post photos of garden visitors from the past month.  Here's what I've seen the last few weeks.

Butterflies were still here throughout November.  Tattered Queen butterfly enjoying the last of the Gregg's Mistflower.  While these are year-round residents, they will be scarce the next few months due to a freeze predicted this week.

Monarchs were still passing through

I think this is a Pearl Crescent but I couldn't get a good look at the wings closed.

The distinctive crescent on the forewing should show white on the underside but I didn't get a good enough photo.

Southern Dogface butterfly with a pointed forewing and distinct spot making the difference between it and a Clouded Sulphur.

Probably Cloudless Sulphur

Very bright in the sunlight.

Here with a smaller friend I'm guessing is a Clouded Sulphur.

Edge banding on the open wings of the small one.  The large one didn't open its wings enough for a positive ID.


I'd like to get better at butterfly ID, a very time consuming process due to subtle variations.

Zebra Longwing, easy peasy.  The photo wasn't easy as they are very skittish.

I kept noticing a large dark shadow across my kitchen window one morning and found this Zebra Longwing admiring its reflection.  "You look "mahvelous"!"

Carpenter Bee

I was fascinated by the purpleish tint on the web of this Common Garden Spider.

I mostly see their webs in the fall and it's always a treat.

Southern Yellow Jacket (I think), not my favorite pollinator.  Unlike many stinging pollinators, these wasps can live to sting again.   They are very aggressive and nest in the ground.  I was attacked by a nest of these while watering a rose bush some years ago and it was scary to say the least.

This may be a leaf-footed bug but the legs look too thin.  Could be the angle.  Always a challenge.

A magnificent 10-point whitetail buck browsing a yard in my neighborhood.  

This month's video of a buck damaging our gate is enough to make me consider options.  At first you'll see him moving nervously back and forth looking for a way out and then bashing the gate.  As he runs for the neighbor's yard it's easy to see how much damage they can do to the garden even without eating plants.


Neal was able to fix the gate so it looks good now.  We do have several dents in the top of the fence where they've jumped over in the past.

That's all for December's Wildlife Wednesday and check out more garden blogger's wildlife posts at "My Gardener Says...."

Friday, November 25, 2016

A few fun things for Friday

Happy Day After Thanksgiving!  Or should I say happy Turkey Noodle Soup Day, which is our favorite way to use leftovers.  We didn't go shopping and plan on sticking close to home all weekend.

There are still flowers in the garden.

Figs and Pomegranates to enjoy.

There are Christmas decorations to get started on and walks to take.  The view outside my window has been a parade of neighbors and families enjoying this beautiful day.  I plan to join them soon.   I hope you are also having a good time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tree Down

A tree went down in our little forest and we actually heard it fall.  A quick snap followed by a brushing noise just as I walked by on the sidewalk.

Why did this happen?  The tree seemed fine right up until that moment and it's been a good year for trees with plenty of rain.

First thing first.  As it toppled the top branches snagged on Red Tip Photinia and the heavy tree trunk was hovering over the path to the gate so we needed to cut it down safely.

A little investigation of the remaining stump revealed that one side has rotted.  On closer inspection there was charring at the break and a few more charred spots along the trunk.  Lightning.  Even though the live oak tree was very close to the house and it was not even the tallest tree among others nearby.  Live oaks often grow sideways looking for light creating bends and crooks in their trunks.  Lightning damage was most severe at the bend in the tree about six feet above ground, and that's where it broke off, apparently many months after the event.

A few more chainsaw cuts...which reveal the tree died on one side but not the other.

And it's off to the woodpile.

I'll miss it.  In this before photo it's the tree to the left of the bench is now missing.

The area looks more open and more light gets through the office window.  I'm not sure I like that.  At this point it feels more like something is missing.  Such a different view now.

Are you wondering what happened to the bench?  A few days before the tree fell we moved it to protect newly planted sedge from deer, not as a place to sit.  Deer love making tracks through soft new soil and uprooting new plants so this is just one of our tricks to protect plants.

Just another day in the's always something.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday November 2016: A month of butterflies

Our butterfly season is in full swing.  At the beginning of October I posted a recommended list of native butterfly nectar plants from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center which I also grow in my garden.  As it turns out the butterflies voted with their wings and declared the Crucita or Blue Mistflower (Chromolaena odorata) the undisputed champion of native butterfly plants.  In fact, of all the plants on the vaunted list, only my Gregg's Mistflower attracted a significant number of butterflies.  Meanwhile, our Central Texas gardening community on Facebook has been brimming with stunning butterfly videos that are the envy of our friends in other parts of the country.  Some of you have already seen most of these photos and videos on my Facebook page, but I'm posting again for Wildlife Wednesday to share with readers who might not have seen them.  Wildlife Wednesday is hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Tina at "My Gardener says...".  Tina features Blue Mistflower and many of the same butterflies this month too but I don't think she'll mind.  We live in the same region, about 70 miles apart so it's to be expected from time to time.

Of course I have them in motion.  A Fall bloomer just in time for butterfly season, it's been hopping like this for 10 days and still going even as the flowers fade.

Like Gregg's Mistflower on steroids, Chromolaena odorata is at least 11' tall, six feet wide and covered head-to-toe with butterflies.

Blue Mistflower is just so amazing as a butterfly nectar plant, especially attractive to Monarchs and Queens.  I counted 10 or more Monarch butterflies at a time on this one plant and I have two in the garden.

Let's take a closer look at some of my other butterfly visitors in October.

Bordered Patch

Common mestra was a new one for me this year.   Usually found farther south along the border, it seems they made their way as far north as Austin according to my blogger friends.

Unmistakable Gulf Fritillary so bright in the sunlight I can see it from the house 40 feet away.

 Locally prolific Queens moved over from Gregg's mistflower for a few days too.

Giant Swallowtail is a favorite of mine.


Mating Queen Butterflies on the Blue Mistflower

Meanwhile, Black Swallowtails prefer Gomphrena 'Fireworks'.

Be sure to check out "My Gardener Says..." for more Wildlife Wednesday.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

Wouldn't it be spooky fun to see this

or this

or even this at my door tonight?

It's really just friendly and fun ceramic pumpkin welcoming a small band of Trick-or-Treaters

Candy Corn lights we've had for years

Candy Corn light effects

or Ghouls...

Everyone have a fun and safe Halloween!