Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bird bath noodling

One of our 20-odd bird baths in the back yard. Looks typical, right?
Ah, but look I did awhile ago.
What ARE those? Tiny orange worms of some sort...noodling around in the gunk. Ewwwww. But then, so interesting...

 We MUST get photos and find out what's going on....

 Before someone refills the bird bath....

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bird band update

So we reported the bird band (without the bird) that James recovered Saturday in our back yard with his new metal detector. As you can see (above), it was once attached to a white-winged dove. James received the certificate of appreciation and an email that read:

The North American Bird Banding ProgramBird banding is important for studying the movement, survival and behavior of birds. About 60 million birds representing hundreds of species have been banded in North America since 1904. About 4 million bands have been recovered and reported.

Data from banded birds are used in monitoring populations, setting hunting regulations, restoring endangered species, studying effects of environmental contaminants, and addressing such issues as Avian Influenza, bird hazards at airports, and crop depredations. Results from banding studies support national and international bird conservation programs such as Partners in Flight, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and Wetlands for the Americas.

The North American Bird Banding Program is under the general direction of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Cooperators include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mexico's National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity and Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources; other federal, state and provincial conservation agencies; universities; amateur ornithologists; bird observatories; nature centers; nongovernmental organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the National Audubon Society; environmental consulting firms and other private sector businesses. However, the most important partner in this cooperative venture is you, the person who voluntarily reported a recovered band. Thank you for your help.

U.S. Geological Survey
Canadian Wildlife Service

Please report bands at or call 800-327-BAND.

Meanwhile, I emailed Shaun, who's still with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as the migratory shore and upland game bird program manager. He thanked me for sending the information. Cool, eh?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Look what James found!

Look what James found with his new metal detector–a bird band! We tried calling the 1-800 number, but no one answered (it's Saturday). For more info, check out this page on bird bands.

Madrone update

 Well, take a look at our Texas madrone now!
I must confess that the madrone is sharing its bubble of garden space with two volunteer tomato plants and a squash plant. James dug up some compost from our compost pile, where those vegetable seeds were hiding.

A cottontail

This morning, I got to snap a quick photo of an eastern cottontail  (Sylvilagus floridanus) that ventured into our Meadow. After we moved into this house in 2002, my daughter and I used to see them more often. It's rare now that one shows up.

I've got nestlings!

Well, sorta.
Does this house look familiar? Yes, it's my former purple martin house. If you'll recall, Michelle in Austin bought it a few months ago. She's been so kind to keep me updated. And look! We have babies! I mean, Michelle has babies. She told me that so far she has four nests. They might even be using one gourd. I'm so happy for her! And it is so wonderful wonderful wonderful to see "my" martin house inhabited with happy purple martins!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A mallow

Desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

Windy day blooms

 Mexican hat
Fall aster
 Salvia 'Yellow'
 Texas lantana
 Zexmenia and heartleaf skullcap
Purple bindweed
Scarlet clematis
 Texas thistle in the Meadow
 Mountain pink in the Meadow!
Tiny asters in the Meadow

Another cool fruit fly

So tiny and beautiful...Another fruit fly, perhaps sunflower seed maggot (Neotephritis finalis)? Not, says Edward on iNaturalist. Could be "Dyseuaresta mexicana," he says, "which is not in Bugguide. It occurs throughout Texas. The larval host is recorded as Melanthera."

Robber fly and a moth

A robber fly perhaps in Efferia genus....

A moth....

Friday, May 12, 2017

Glassy-eyed sharpshooter

Sometime nature can be playful. At least, it comes across that way to a human like me. I couldn't get a photo of this bug because it'd bop to the other side of the stem to get away from me. It felt like I was playing hide-and-go-seek with it. Finally, James shooed it my way so I could get some photos.

Looks like a glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis) to me. What do you think? This species can spread a bacterium and cause problems in vineyards. If I'm wrong on the species, I'll let you know with an update.
Some leafhopper larvae on a butterflyweed.

Some sadness

Last night, a young squirrel was up in an oak in the back yard. At first, I thought he was stuck between small branches. Then he fell about three feet and hit the ground while trying to skitter away from us. Finally, we realized what was wrong....he couldn't use his back legs. I took some photos of him while he draped himself over a limb. See his little foot hanging there?

Today, we saw him again. I watched (it was so hard) and realized that he drags his right back leg. He ate some corn on the cob that James set out, then climbed away. What a fighter! 

This and that

Take your time, and walk slow, look closely. Yesterday afternoon, I spotted a beautiful little Aztec spur-throat perched on a salvia leaf in the back yard.

This extra-friendly damselfly showed up a couple of times in our garden so I was able to get a photo this time.

 Aren't the Texas skeleton flowers pretty?
I was walking along a path, and a snowberry clearwing (a hummingbird moth) caught my eye. Can you find it in the photo above? Hint: look in the dirt.
 After the hummingbird moth, I found this tiny fly with striking wing patterns on a wedelia bud...