Monday, September 1, 2014

First monarch of the season Aug. 31

Alas, though, I have no photograph to prove my first sighting of a monarch (female) yesterday. The memory card in my camera malfunctioned, and I lost the shots. The monarch flew off and didn't return. Instead, here are some queens that also dined on our blue mistflower yesterday (Conoclinium coelestrinum) that's been blooming. Other insects love the flowers, too.

Purple groundcherry

On our way to North Texas last week, I spotted this new-to-me species at a rest area west of Eden. But right away, I knew it was a nightshade by the shape of its pretty little flower. Ladies and gentlemen, meet purple groundcherry (Quincula lobata).

Keepin' the bees happy

If you'll recall, I hung up mini hummingbird feeders for our bees in May ("Makin' bees happy" and "Bees bees bees and a vulture"). They empty all three in a day or two. Yesterday, I started setting out plates of sugar water for them. It doesn't take long for them to slurp up the plates CLEAN. Amazing!

New-to-me native species

Well, well, well. These two mysteries recently popped up in the sand of the brick patio that James built last year. Hmmm. New species to me. Euphorbia family, I bet. So I searched species in the spurge family and–VOILA!–mystery solved! These are woolly crotons (Croton capitatus var. lindheimeri). Awesome. An annual plant that's a host to the goatweed leafwing butterfly.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Look what I found!

Early this morning, I was going to use this old plastic cup to scoop up water from the water bucket from the air conditioning drain. I happened to glance inside and WOW! One of my lady garden spiders! I'm pretty sure she was migrating from the turk's caps last night and got stuck. (Their feet are designed for walking on webs, not up slippery surfaces like jumping spiders can do.) I gently deposited her in the flame acanthus. Hope she sticks around there!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nursery in the Meadow

While we were out of town overnight Monday, our neighborhood got nearly an inch of rain! So yesterday evening, James and I were strolling around, checking out plants. When we wandered into the Meadow, we heard something scamper through the leaves. I saw a Texas spiny lizard running across the ground, toward the oaks, away from where James stood near the cedar gate he'd made.

"Look!" he exclaimed. "She just laid eggs!" She had! More than 10!

I took photos, then we stayed away. One time, we did peek, and she immediately ran away so we knew she was tending to her nursery. So we didn't have to worry about the eggs.

This morning, I took my camera and went back outside to check her nest (photos below). Mission accomplished! She'd finished depositing eggs and covered them back up. According to what I've read, the eggs will hatch within 43 to 83 days. 

Texas spiny lizard

UPDATE August 21, 2014–James contacted the curator of herpetology at UT-Austin's Texas Natural History Collections about our eggs. Here's what he shared: 

"Our Texas spiny lizards (Sceloporus olivaceus) typically lay between 5-25 eggs in a nest, sometimes nesting four times a year during good conditions. Typical incubation time is between 45-60 days but may fluctuate a few days outside of that range, depending on the nest depth and amount of sun the nest site receives each day (warmer nests typically hatch more quickly)."

Friday, August 8, 2014

August 2014 in our Wildscape

Welcome to our Wildscape in August, the worst summer month in terms of raging heat and no rain. I tend to get a bit depressed this time of the year. It's tough to go outside and see everything suffering from lack of the nourishing kind of moisture that nature brings with rain. We've started watering early in the morning about every other day, just to keep plants alive. Compared to past Augusts, actually this month has been easier. The high temps were a little later in coming, thank the Lord. Here we go...

Our front yard....

The Meadow's dry dry dry...

Side of front yard...

And now to the back yard...

Tree senna and tropical milkweed

Grand finale: Texas hibiscus