Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lurking on the coneflowers

Juvenile crab spider
Another crab spider on a different coneflower....
Same crab spider, different angle...
Green lynx
Bonus: Cool fly on a Rubeckia sp.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Slender crab spider

A new-to-me spider in our Wildscape. I spotted her last night just inside our garage. She was hard to catch, but I corralled her into a jar. She spent the night with me (ha!). Honest! I wanted to figure her out, which I did. I'm fairly confident that she is a slender crab spider (Tibellus oblongus). A juvenile, too. She probably has one more molt to go, but then I could be wrong on that. I released her on our rose of Sharon, and she posed quite prettily for me. Oh, and yes, she is missing a rear leg. Which she'll regenerate in her next molt.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

We venture north

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
Wow. For the third time, we took a short morning trip and ventured into new-to-us territory. We've been really adventuresome lately. This time, we explored the Doeskin Ranch Trails at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Marble Falls. I visited there in April 2012 as part of my Texas Master Naturalist training, but it was fun this time to hike some trails with James. Plus, we had the refuge to ourselves the whole time!

First, we walked the short Pond & Prairie Trail. Along the way, we spotted a beautiful little wildflower, one I'd never seen before. I took some photos and then later sleuthed the identification myself using Marshall Enquist's Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country. The flowerhead reminded me of the golden dalea. Hmmm, the legume family. GOT IT! Purple prairie clover! By George, I was right! How exciting! I love to learn new species!
Purple prairie clover flower
Seedhead of purple prairie clover
Next we hiked the longer Creek Trail, which later meandered along a small stream. I spotted a clematis along the way, probably scarlet clematis. The creek was beautiful with maidenhair fern and lots of native grasses.

Western ironweed

OH MY! Then came The Highlight of the outing for me––I found Texas milkweed in bloom along the creek! I recognized it right away because we planted one last spring in our Wildscape, and it's flowering right now. I just find it so cool to find my Texas native "friends" growing in their natural habitats.

I shot a short video on the creek so you could hear the cicadas and rushing water. So peaceful, so beautiful.

By noon, the temps had risen to the high 90s so we called it quits and headed back to the car. Great outing!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A spider story, pluralized

Yesterday, I was watering my pigeonberry and wedelia in pots on our stone patio. I happened to glance down and see a little cobweb spider, hunging upside, perhaps dead (photo above is cropped tight), in the wedelia pot. I nudged her body. No reaction. Dang. Had I hurt her while I was watering? Had I accidentally killed her? I felt sad.

After supper, I checked her again. No reaction. She was DEAD.

Well, just awhile ago, I went outside and crouched down to look yet again. What should I spy?!! ..............
 Oh, yes, you're right! Dozens of tiny spiderlings!

How wonderful! They'd evidently just hatched from an eggsac that she'd hidden in the leaf debris. In the photo above, you can see the leaf and some tiny spiders climbing up a strand of silk to join their siblings above. She stayed with her eggs until right before they hatched. Isn't that amazing? I love to watch and witness Mother Nature.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Seed portraits

Velvet-leaf mallow
Missouri primrose
Snapdragon vine (these aren't like my snapdragon seedpods)...Probably penstemon species, per reader Linda W.
Standing cypress

My found treasure

Ratany (Krameria lanceolata)

Well, at least I felt like I found a treasure. As we were coming down Cross Mountain yesterday in Fredericksburg, I looked down at the gate and spotted a familiar but new-to-me native: ratany! In Marshall Enquist's Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country, this species is featured on page 79. "The family Krameriacea contains only a single genus, Krameria, with 15 to 25 species in North and South America," he states. "Texas has 4 of these species, only one of which grows in our area." THIS ONE!

I knew what it was because of Enquist's book! Anyway, I felt like one of those birders who get excited when they see a rare bird or a species they need for their life list. I can relate!

A Fredericksburg outing

Woolly ironweed           (Photos by James Hearn)
Does a soul good to get away, even just for a few hours. So off we went yesterday to Fredericksburg with only a picnic basket and no-set schedule in tow. First, we explored Cross Mountain Park, a place I'd passed by on Highway 16 but never stopped to visit. The climb up to see the big cross was fun, but naturally what I enjoyed most was looking at the native plants. (I'm going to share a treasure I found in a separate post.)

Snapdragon vine
Sheryl points out a four-nerve daisy.

Next we mozied over to the Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park, where we shared a picnic lunch (those are James' nutritious snacks, not mine...har har). That cool wicker basket belonged to my parents.

Our last stop: the Pollinator Garden at the muncipal park. This was James' first visit to the garden, which is really nice. We saw lots of familiar native plants. Many were going to seed. Fun outing!
Add caption

P.S. Confession time: I did collect a few seedheads along the way and dropped some in my shorts pockets. When I got home, I emptied out my pockets down to the linty bottoms, which I rarely do. When I did, look what scuttled up and out--a tiny crab spider! I couldn't believe how she survived being scrunched up in my pocket for most of the day! Poor thing. Yes, I let her go in the back yard after a brief photo session.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Little green beetle

Check out this beautiful little beetle I found just inside our garage near the back door. Get the camera! I checked–sure looks like a Chrysolina sp. to me