Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New bird

Crummy images, cropped tight. I think she's a summer tanager (Pirangu rubra). I shall ask my bird expert, Joanne, for her opinion.... 


Friday, July 26, 2013

Long-legged beauty

White watering this morning, James spotted this long-legged beauty–a yellow garden argiope (Argiope aurantia), also commonly called a yellow garden spider, banana spider and writing spider. She built her web in the front yard among the crape myrtle, woolly butterfly bush and blue mistflowers. Yes, she's a she. The female of this species is ALWAYS the larger of the two sexes. Soon the puny little male will show up at the edge of her web. They'll mate, and then he'll take off. 

P.S. The "zipper" in her orb web has a name: the stabilimentum. Biologists aren't sure of its real purpose, but the thick strands could warn birds not to fly into the web, and/or they might reflect ultraviolet light, which attracts insects.

A new-to-me native

Meet velvet bundleflower (Desmanthus velutinusprairie acacia (Acacia angustissima var. hirta)! The species is related to catclaw sensitive briar, partridge pea, milkvetch and MANY other plants in the pea family. Yesterday morning, I just happened to be walking along the street, tossing Mexican hat seeds across the Meadow, when I saw this low, shrubby plant. Upon closer examination, I realized I'd never this species on our property. COOL! At first, I thought it was prairie wattle (Acacia angustissima var. texensis). But Joe Marcus at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (I contribute plant images to their database) said no, it's prairie acacia. "Acacia angustissima var. texensis is restricted to south and west Texas and Mexico," he told me. I sure was close, though! :-)  

UPDATE MAY 3, 2018  I uploaded an observation on this plant to iNaturalist, and a user corrected the ID. I agree with her. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More cool additions

A month or so ago, James came up with a cool idea. Or should I say ANOTHER cool idea. He's always got ideas. Anyway, he suggested that we make a grouping of bird baths. So last weekend, we bought two small bird baths and relocated two more from elsewhere in our Wildscape. Of course, we'll be planting around the baths so it won't look so bare like it does now. We tucked two chairs in the corner. Real cozy and great views, too!
In place of a bird bath that we relocated, we put this one that we also bought from last weekend's estate sale. I think Rebecca would be pleased to know that we have it now. She was always so much about "Keep Blanco Beautiful."
James enlarged the rock border around this bed because the salvias and trailing lantana have grown!
And before I forget, James shot all these photos! Aren't they nice?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Look what we've been up to

Earlier this week, I ran across a listing for a bird bath/water fountain available in San Marcos. As you can tell, we bought it! And OH MY GOODNESS, IT WEIGHS A TON! Or least 250 pounds all together. It came in three pieces. The finial top was easy. Now the bowl and separate pedestal, well, I'm relieved to report that no back aches to be had.

I also found this cute wrought iron bistro set at an estate sale here in town. I knew the woman, who was a retired school teacher and very active locally. Rebecca was especially involved in a "Keep Blanco Beautiful" campaign. I was thinking this morning that she never did see our yard. Especially the back, where we've done so much work. She would have loved our Wildscape. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Free bee (and ant) observer cards

I've been meaning to pass this on for the LONGEST time. But sometimes life just gets in the way....

"The Entomology Department at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology and the Encyclopedia of Life have collaborated to develop a set of "Bee Observer Cards" that are intended to teach naturalists, teachers, resource managers and other interested public something about the diverse anatomy, natural history, and behaviors of bees. The cards are not a guide to taxonomic identification but more a tool to help people observe the remarkable diversity of body structures, nesting habits etc. when they are out in the field. 

They are freely available to anyone as a PDF on the EOL website:"

P.S. from Sheryl–There are ant observer cards too!