Monday, January 31, 2011

Arctic air on the way

So I just stepped outside and trimmed some more dead blue mistflower. According to weather forecasts, a cold spell will arrive sometime tomorrow. We're due for a hard freeze, which could last several days. Which makes me wonder....should we water the Wildscape this afternoon? What do y'all think?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lost Ladybug Project

Seven-spotted ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata)
While we were standing in the parking lot after church, visiting with a friend, I happened to spot this ladybug on James' car. I was hoping it'd be the elusive nine-spotted species but nope, not this time either. It's the seven-spotted ladybug. Awhile ago, I shot a photo of it, then let it fly away. Then I uploaded the pic to the Lost Ladybug Project, which is surveying ladybug species across the U.S. It's a cool project! I've been contributing to it for several years now. Check it out!

We start the pruning process

Ah, wonderful warm sunshine! After church and then lunch, James and I headed outside with shears and choppers. Let the pruning begin! We worked for about two hours....Let's see, we pruned the esperanza, 'Indigo Spires' salvia, 'Hot Lips' salvias, other salvias, Mexican bush sage, wedelia, American beautyberry, Copper Canyon daisy and a few other things. 

And we're not done yet! More to do another day....

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cibolo Nature Center

Patty Leslie Paszter, Paul Gates, Kip Kiphard and Delmar Cain (all photos by James)
Yesterday morning, we hiked with a group of volunteers at Cibolo Nature Center near Boerne. They were out surveying birds and butterflies. With sunny skies and warm temps, it was a perfect day to get outside. We also enjoyed our visits with everyone! Patty is a natural resource consultant, naturalist and author (Texas Trees: A Friendly Guide with Paul W. Cox). Delmar Cain is president of the Boerne Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, Kip Kiphart is a retired heart surgeon and Paul Gates is a retired teacher. Volunteer Kimber Briggs also joined the group. 

Besides an extensive trail system, the nature center offers all kinds of educational programs. Founder and executive director Carolyn Chipman Evans has worked hard since 1988 to preserve the land and its four ecosystems–marshland, remnant tallgrass prairie, creekbed and woodlands. Years ago, I profiled her for the Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. More recently, David Martin Davies interviewed Carolyn on the PBS program, "Conversations."
Me on the boardwalk....

James spotted this bird nest.
The tallgrass prairie

Cibilo Creek

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dead stuff, some colors and a SURPRISE

 Awhile ago, I tried out my macro lens, and it works fine. Around our Wildscape, I found a lot of dead stuff, like the coneflowers that have gone to seed (above) and fragrant mistflower (below).

I also found the agarita very green, which was lovely....
 ...and the coralberry with beautiful magenta fruit!
Most surprising, though, was finding TWO Gulf fritillary caterpillars, ALIVE, munching on a wilted passionflower vine....I was amazed!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Recycling batteries

I had some free time this morn so I checked out battery recyclers listed on The best one I found was For $24.95, they'll send you (free shipping!) an iRecycle Kit 5.

According to the online description, "The iRecycle Kit is a complete battery and handheld electronics recycling kit for household. Includes UN approved collection box, pre-paid shipping and pre-paid recycling–everything you need to begin recycling today. Materials accepted include all types of dry-cell batteries including AA, AAA, C, D, power tool, laptop, cellphone, camera batteries and others, plus all handheld electronics such cellphones, iPods, PDAs and more. Container holds approximately six month's to one year’s worth of batteries for an average household."
UPDATE FEBRUARY 11, 2011–I ordered my iRecycle Kit 5 today!!

UPDATE FEBRUARY 20, 2011– My kit arrived yesterday, and I started filling it up!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recycling plug

Tis winter and not much going on in our Wildscape. OK, OK, I confess....I'm not going outside much either. Plus, my macro lens isn't back from the repair shop (it's coming home Thursday). At any rate, I'm going to make a plug here for recycling, which we believe in and practice 100 percent.

Our weekly garbage amounts to just a wee bit in a plastic household trash bag. Every Monday, I always cringe when we set it out for the collection crew. I hate trash I hate trash, I mutter to myself on a regular basis. Because I do! I hate hate hate adding to our landfills. Native Americans from long ago would just grieve and cry over what we've done to their homelands! They respected and loved it all so much.

James says I'm like Neytiri, the main female character in the film, "Avatar."

"You're connected to everything," he tells me. "Sometimes TOO much."

Yes, I feel that link to nature deeply. Very deeply.

However, not everything can be recycled at our local center. So what do you do with old floppies? Video cassettes? Household batteries? Even an old toilet? (We bought a new water-saving toilet last week. It's AWESOME in action! Whoosh – only 1.6 gallons to flush!) Here are some green websites that helped me: Last February, I shipped a box of floppies, cassettes and an old computer drive to Green Disk. I paid $6.95 for a label, then $9 to ship the box. Sure, it cost me some bucks, but I felt better knowing it wasn't going in a landfill. I've got a butter tub full of household batteries that my daughter left. I just CAN'T put them out for the trash! So I found Earth911 just now. Cool! Through this site, I found several companies that will accept batteries, like Green Disk does electronic stuff. Yes, I'll have to pay for their service. But that's OK!

To find battery recyclers, I clicked "Recycling 101," then "Hazardous," then "Single-use batteries." Another great resource that I recently discovered, thanks to Woman's Day magazine. This site also helps you locate places that accept recyclables and other wastes. 

Austin's Resource Recovery Center So what do you do with an old toilet? James called around last week and found a place in Austin that will take ours. Since I'm going to Austin next week on business anyway, I'll drop it off. I'm sure there are other places across the country that also accept old fixtures.

Bottom line: You CAN find places that will take and recycle nearly everything!


Corks A few weeks ago, I took a bagful of them to Spec's in Austin. They have a great recycling program: "Spec's has been working with Nomacorc, a cork recycling company, in an effort to collect corks that will in turn be used for 'up-sale' items. This keeps trash out of landfills and as an added bonus, 4 cents per cork will be donated to the Stehlin Foundation, a cancer research firm in Houston. To date, more than 300,000 corks have been recycled!"

Bottle caps Via Recyclebank, I linked to Earth911 and found the Recap Company! This Ohio-based company accepts bottle caps (soft drinks, spices, milk, mayonnaise, etc) and recycles them into cool ReCap Mats. Looks like we'll be starting a new collection box at the Pink House. 

VHS tapes Ship old VHS tapes and floppy discs to ACT, a nonprofit in Columbia, Missouri, that trains and employs disabled people. Alternative Community Training Inc., 2200 Burlington St., Columbia MO 65202; 800-359-4607. 

CD/DVDs Recycle them at Best Buy.

Cell phones Check where to dispose of your brand at Or drop off at Target and Best Buy.

Crayons Ship unwanted crayons (preferably still with labels attached) to Crayon Recycle Program, 2464 Downhill Dr. No 3, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487. For more info, visit or call 970-879-1966. 


NOTE: In January, I e-mailed Energizer batteries and asked about using rechargeable batteries in household clocks. Here's the company's reply:

Combining alkaline and manganese yields 1.5 volts. Combining nickel metal hydride yields 1.2 volts. Our regular alkaline cells are 1.5 volts. Our rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries are 1.2 volts. Since all devices operate within a voltage range, you should still be able to use the rechargeable batteries. You will need to check with the device manufacturer to determine if 1.2 volts is acceptable.

Energizer Consumer Relations


Friday, January 14, 2011

Butterfly site updated

Last July, I e-mailed Kelly with the Butterflies and Moths of North America website. I wanted to tell her about sighting a snowberry clearwing moth in our Wildscape. It's not documented for our county. This morning, I received a note back that their new website is up and running.

"I'm sorry it took me so long to get to your email," Kelly wrote. "Thanks for sending in this sighting. I'll try to get it up on the new website as soon as I can. We have a new layout now where you can submit sightings directly onto the website and get them approved directly for immediate updates. Hopefully it will speed things up. If you choose to check it out, let me know if it gives you any trouble."

I've checked it out, and the site has wonderful graphics and tools. Look at the monarch account, for example. Very nice! I'm gonna register right this minute!

Thanks, Kelly! Great job, everyone with BMNA!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

They're coming!

Purple martins, that is. A landlord in Pleasanton, TX, has already reported his first scout! The male arrived January 8, according to the Scout Arrival Study page at Purple Martin Conservation Association.

This is THE year! (After two previous years of watching an empty house.) We will have our first martin colony. We will we will we will we will.......

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tree ferns?

While visiting Huntsville last week, I noticed ferns growing on what I think was a live oak tree. We've never seen this before. The ferns are actually rooted into the tree bark so they have to be parasitic, like mistletoe. Which means they CAN'T be good for the poor tree!

UPDATE–JANUARY 14, 2011–A quick search turned up more info on this critter, which readers Jonni and Mkircus told me is a resurrection fern. Polypodium polypodioides is an air plant.

According to Floridata, "Resurrection fern is not a parasite. It gets its water and nutrients from rain and dust, and causes no harm to the tree that supports it. This little plant is sometimes sold as a novelty item in gift shops and as a mail-order 'miracle plant' on the back covers of comic books and magazines."

Nature writer

Just wondering.....has anyone ever read author Edwin Way Teale? A reader in Atlanta, Georgia, contacted me after Christmas and told me about him. "He died in 1980 (I think), but his books are alive with the natural world," Jean B. wrote. "He won all kinds of prizes for his writing. Some of the titles are North with the Spring, Wandering Through Winter, Autumn Across America and Journey into Summer."

"I visited his widow, Nellie, at their home, Trailwood, in Hampden, Connecticut," Jean added. "They donated Trailwood to the Audubon Society upon Nellie’s death in 1993. You would enjoy reading his works."

If I can find a copy of one somewhere, I'd like to read Teale!