Thursday, April 28, 2011

The new pink house at the Pink House

My cousin Rick Dobie made this bird house just for me. Took awhile but we finally hung it up! (James did all the work.) Thank you, Rick!

UPDATE–This very evening, a wren couple are moving into the bottom duplex!....wait a minute, folks.... Correction....BOTH apartments are getting occupied!!

More to see out my window!

James just installed a new hook outside my office window and hung a hummingbird feeder. Another excuse not to write! 

UPDATE–Forty minutes after James hung this, I heard my first visitors! I turned from at my desk and saw two humming birds, already fighting over the new feeder!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Don't mind me!

This afternoon, I was working on the laptop at the dining room table when I looked up and saw this butterfly, hanging out on the hummingbird feeder and trying to nectar. I watched it for a while. Then I couldn't stand it any longer. I fetched James' Kodak, stood at the window and shot a progression of photos. I'd never seen a butterfly at a hummingbird feeder before. Or one that stayed so long, no matter who else showed up....

While I stood there, shooting, a wasp arrived and got on board. The butterfly–a hairstreak species–stood its ground. Hummingbirds came and went. The butterfly stayed. It did, however, meander over and around the feeder. (On some of the images, you really have to search before you can spot it.) From about the ninth photo and beyond below, James photographed those. And he got some really great shots.....

Monday, April 25, 2011

One lucky gal

Last Saturday, James cleaned the garage, and I helped. "Is this a black widow?" he asked, pointing to a corner above the concrete floor. 

"If it's black, odds are that it is," I replied. 

Oh, yeah, it was definitely a black widow.
"You know I have to kill it, right?" James said.

I use the word "said" because he did not say it like a question.

"Yes, I know," I replied. 

I had turned and was heading into the house so he could perform the execution when I heard him say, "Unless you have something to put her in....."

In the kitchen, I hurriedly found a jar in a cabinet, then ran back out to the garage. 
"You're NOT THE MAN I MARRIED!" I wailed, jokingly. 

Because he's not. The guy I married five years ago next Monday would have killed that spider or any spider on the spot! Now he has a new appreciation for them. 

Even black widows. 

I know, I know, you're think we're both nuts.

At any rate, the widow stayed in the jar a few days. Now and then, James would pick up the jar from the dining room window sill and peer at her.

"You didn't want to be born a black widow, did you?" James would murmur in his soothing voice. "I bet you wanted to be a crab spider!"

(Yes, James now talks to spiders, too. I've ruined him.)

Yesterday, the three of us got in the car and headed to San Antonio for Easter with James' family. However, on the way, James pulled over on a ranch road (which will remain unidentified), and I jumped out of the car with the jar in my hands. I walked way over to some brush and dumped out the widow. Or at least, I tried to dump her out. She didn't want to leave her cobweb. So I got a little stick and encouraged her to vacate the premises. Which she did. Then she scrambled under a dead twig.  

Three hours later, we headed back home.
"So do you want to stop and check on the black widow?" I teased James.

"NO," he said, shaking his head firmly.

James DOES have his limits.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter blessings from our Wildscape

Our passionflower is blooming today–Easter Sunday. Did you know that this flower symbolizes Christ's death on the cross? Read my article, "Easter Bloomer."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Drama in the grass

This is what happens when you decide to go outside, sit awhile in the Meadow and watch nature....something always happens! 

We were relaxing in our lawn chairs when I happened to glance under James' legs. "Now don't get all scared or anything but look down on the ground," I warned. I'd spotted a wasp, laboriously pulling a large wolf spider behind her through the grass, right under him.

Since I'm familiar with some insect and spider biology, I knew what was going on. The wasp had already stung and paralyzed the spider lady and was dragging the poor victim to an underground burrow. It was way too late to rescue the spider. Soon she'd be fresh food for the wasp's larvae.

James was fascinated. I was, too. But I was too lazy to go fetch my camera. Until I decided the drama was way too interesting to miss. So off I went to get it. (When am I going to learn to always take my camera outside??)

Back outside, I joined James, who was keeping an eye on the wasp mother. I snapped away while the wasp worked and worked. One time, she flew away. We guessed she was relocating her burrow and getting her directions straight. Can you imagine dragging something backward through a jungle and not looking at all where you're going? That's what the wasp was doing. 

After a bit of flying around, she returned and found her victim. For a few minutes, she went off to the side and groomed herself (below). Then it was back to work!

She overshot her final destination and had to double back to get to her burrow. But dang if she didn't find it (above)! Below, you can barely see the spider's legs protruding from the hole. Then it's just a smidgen of her body that you can see. Then she's gone! (Sorry my images are dark...just click on each one for a better look.) 

James marked off the distance and figured that the wasp dragged her spider more than 40 feet!

I've since concluded that our wasp is a tarantula hawk–Pepsis mildei.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I know deer have to eat, too, but the VERY FIRST BLOOM EVER ON OUR NATIVE TWISTLEAF YUCCA??!! I was so looking forward to the huge flower! Then yesterday, when we were in the Meadow, doing our weekly cleaning-out-the-sparrows'-nest chore in the purple martin house (they laid four eggs this week!), I glanced over and saw....HORRORS!!.....the top of my yucca bloom GONE

James had told me about the casualties in our front vegetable garden, but I couldn't bear to look until I went outside just now and took a photo. See that green stalk? That's all that's left of four bell pepper plants. Sniff. The deer have also chewed off the top of one of the two tomato plants, too.

Such are the costs of a drought. Deer gotta eat, too. Just wish they'd eat somewhere else!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A walk on the wild side

These cacti in our Meadow bloomed so I had to run fetch my camera. I can't tell you what they are, but the flowers sure were pretty. While I was out shooting, my neighbor friend, Peyton, and his little brother, Davis, trotted over to see what I was up to. "Taking pictures," I said. Then I showed them the cacti flower. Then our mutual friend, Joe Mac, came over, too.

This interesting little moth landed on Davis' finger.
I found eggs on this Erodium sp.

Some species of a bee fly, I think.

A variegated fritillary nectared on a greenthread flower.

 And Peyton wanted me to shoot this fly that landed on his big toe. Boys will be boys!