Saturday, April 24, 2010

She's a mom!

The mama owl in Austin hatched four little ones yesterday! I'm thinking/hoping ours is in the process of doing the same....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Disperal Day

As we walked through the back yard this evening, sunlight cut through the
Jerusalem sage and lit up a mesh of spider webs. A closer look turned up dozens of tiny spiderlings, all about to disperse and balloon away. I picked one up carefully for a closer look but couldn't figure out the species. While I peered at my little guy, the others scampered along several central "guide wires" (like one below), sometimes bumping into one another. Now and then, a breeze would catch one and carry it away. Not many will survive but enough to keep the species going until next spring.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What's blooming...

Just a sampling...

Red columbine going CRAZY



Blackfoot daisy, which has spread like crazy, too

New additions

Happy belated birthday to me! I'm way behind in blogging. I actually turned 50-again back in late March. I requested "real" flowers for my birthday, specifically four-nerve daisy. I also suggested we climb Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and take a picnic. Well, James and I didn't picnic (instead we shared dinner out with my mother, Marcelle Smith), but we did make it to the summit of the rock. Where we did something else I wanted to do....

Up there, we met Nicholas, a little boy from San Antonio and his father. I let Nicholas fly my kite, and he loved it! Afterward, he and his dad continued to the top of Enchanted Rock. I was impressed. Reminded me of my son, Patrick, who used to hike a lot with his grandfather, Harry Smith.
Tetraneuris scaposa

In case you're wondering, yes, I got my four-nerve daisy. I also landed a pot of Hill Country penstemon and some chocolate daisy. So I came out pretty darn good for my 50-again birthday, right?
Hill Country penstemon 
Penstemon triflorus DIED

Chocolate daisy 
Berlandiera lyrata DIED

Mystery solved

So for the past several weeks, I'd been noticing these distinct shoots of grass, coming up here and there in the yard and in beds. Usually in groups of two and three. Inland sea oats, I wondered? But last fall I didn't notice any birds eating the seeds, the only likely way new grass could have spread. And to such "far away" places. Including the front yard. Our sea oats grow in one bed in the back yard.

Today, I pulled up dandelions, horseherb, wood sorrel and other unsightly plants in the yard. I decided to go ahead and pull up some of that grass. Well, mystery solved! Take a look............

Seems our resident eastern fox squirrels have been playing farmer. That's what they do, you know. They bury pecans, acorn, and other seeds for future meals. They actually remember where they plant everything, too. Only trouble is, some seeds germinate before they have a chance to go back and dig them up! Many trees species, particularly pecans, can thank squirrels for boosting their numbers.

We put out corn cob treats out for the squirrels. That's where the kernels came from. And now we've got corn seedlings growing in our Wildscape.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wildflower updates

Texas yellowstar
Lindheimera texana

Alright, time to visit the Meadow and figure out what we've got blooming over there right now. Lots of pretty flowers.........

Texas yellowstar
Lindheimera texana

One of our very own Texas bluebonnets!

Texas stork's-bill
Erodium texanum
(I figured it out!)

A damselfly that happened by....

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida
(I thought the two hues of purple were extra pretty.)

Texas vervain
Verbena halei

Wright's skullcap
Scuterllaria wrightii
(Thank you, Mary, for the identification!!)

Medicago polymorpha
I used to love this stuff as a kid. Until Dad had us help him roll it up like carpet to get it out of our yard in Corpus Christi. Now I hate it as much as he did. It's taking over the Meadow!!!

Well-traveled guy...or gal

The past week has been nearly a blur. On Saturday, April 3, James' precious mother, Lourdes Hearn, was admitted into a San Antonio hospital. Her prognosis did not look good. On Monday, I left as planned for Missouri on a magazine assignment. In the meantime, with James at her bedside, Mrs. Hearn left for heaven early Wednesday morning. I returned home that night. Her services were Saturday morning. James drove me back home, then I left for Austin to attend an evening dinner with Guideposts editors and writers. I spent the night with cousins there, then Sunday morning picked up writer Shawnelle Eliasen from Morrison, Illinois, and toured her around the Hill Country. Early this morning, James and I drove her to Austin airport.

There's a point to this long story.

And I spotted him/her on the dashboard of my Toyota on the way to the airport this morning. "A baby walkingstick!" I exclaimed to everyone. Cool. The little thing rode with us all the way to Austin, then all the way back home. When we got out of the car, I forgot to look for it. After an hour-long catnap, I went out to the garage and looked around inside the car. Not a sign of it. I tried again. Then once more. Success! It was on the "ceiling."

I took a few photos.........

....then released it on our African milk tree, a rather tall potted cactus on our front porch. Thus, endeth the story of a well-traveled guy....or gal.

(This little tale's for your boys, Shawnelle! We loved having you here!)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Screech owl ponderin's

Well, I just checked the Screech Owl Cam, hosted by Cathy and Bob Howell of Austin, and their female is sitting on eggs! This morning, she's snoozing. You can actually see her body going up and down with each breath.

Their update reads, "Mom Owl has laid 5 eggs, the first one on 3/20/10 and the fifth on 3/29. If all goes well, the eggs should begin hatching mid-April. However, Mom did not begin full-time incubation of the eggs until the 4th egg was laid. This is not normal owl behavior (she should've begun incubating after the first or second egg). Consequently, some of the eggs may not hatch. Also, if inadequate food supply is the reason for Mom's unusual behavior, it's possible that none of the eggs will survive. We will wait and see."

So, naturally, I'm guessing our Agatha may be sitting on eggs as well. We haven't seen her out roosting in a long while. Stay tuned!