Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Happy birthday, me!

Thank you, Brock!
Happy birthday to me today! So to celebrate, we headed north to Hill Country Water Gardens and Nursery in Cedar Park, where we originally bought everything for our stock tank pond back in May 2012. My 'Indiana' dwarf water lily needed to be divided. I thought this would be the third time since we've had it, but turns out this was the second time since 2012 that the poor thing has been worked on. I think you're suppose to divided every year. Oh, well. Brock (above) was the nice young man who took care of my lily.
 Hill Country Water Gardens is a pretty place to hang out.
They've even got a cool fairy garden (hard to tell by this photo, though).
For my birthday lunch, we stopped at the Oasis in Austin, the "sunset capital of Texas." No sunset for us, but we did enjoy my free birthday brownie after a fish taco (me) and beef enchiladas (James).

There's James, flirting with Ophelia at the Oasis!
On the way home, we stopped to visit a dear friend at a rehab hospital in Lakeway. Volunteers Sue, Julia and Betty with Minis and Friends were visiting patients with Mr. Wiggins and B.B., a pair of friendly miniature ponies. B.B. willingly laid his head in my lap for some photos and head scratches. What a hoot!

Back at home, time to get to work! I set my newly divided water lily into the water and released a dozen (actually 11) gambusia we bought at Hill Country Water Gardens. We already had more than 10 in our stock tank, but new genetics is always a good thing, I figure.

And finally...this is so exciting (to me, at least)...
Happy birthday, me!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Cat watching

Caterpillar watching, that is. Yep, I'm at it again. Don't know if you recall the hours I spent last September, watching a tomato hornworm meander back and forth across our back yard. But I did. That study ended in a big question mark. That fat green thing just stopped in the grass. I tend to believe it later burrowed into the ground after dark.

This time, I followed a pipevine swallowtail baby around because I was hoping I'd see it choose a chrysalis location. My vigil started around 5:20 p.m.
In the Meadow, beneath our live oaks, we have a patch of non-native pipevine (Aristolochia fimbriata) that is (or now was) covered up with pipevine swallowtail caterpillars. Yesterday late afternoon, I stopped to shoot some photos of the gang and noticed that not one but two had taken off from the roost. So I kept an eye on both for awhile.

Like I said, I was hoping to see where they might end up. A day or two earlier, I had looked up photos of a pipevine swallowtail chrysalis and found this great photo.  I wanted to see what they look like so I'd better know what to look for in our gardens. While I watched, both caterpillars circled around a mountain laurel. One went right back to the roost! I was rather relieved that I only had one to tail.
In the meantime, a mama swallowtail showed up. She was persistent. "No, no!" I fussed. "There isn't any more vine left! Go somewhere else to lay eggs!" She fluttered away.

While my cat friend kept crawling through the grass, I sat on a rock. I checked on the rest of the brood. I looked up at the sky. I listened to the bird calls. I shot a photo. I shot another photo. I sat back down on another rock. I stood up and followed the cat. Go up the chain length fence, caterpillar, I thought. I want to see you pick a place. Go go go. But the caterpillar had a mind of its own (or something to that effect in its tiny head), and it just keep crawling here, back there and over yonder. I figured James must be wondering where I was. But I couldn't leave or I'd lose my cat. 

I also photographed a medium-sized pipevine cat on the underside of an agarita leaf (above). I plan to go back and check on it.
Meanwhile, my little pipevine friend kept crawling through the grass.
I also photographed a smaller pipevine cat that clung to live oak bark. I'll check on it, too, later on.
James finally came out and found me. He hung out with us for a little while, but, yes, it's true, tailing a caterpillar gets to be a bit boring after a while. So he went back inside the house.

After a half hour, I kept hoping and hoping the caterpillar would make a decision (above). Then I noticed ANOTHER caterpillar nearby in the grass (can you find it in the photo below?). 

And then, my cat friend vanished. I lost it in the thicker grass and weedy plants (above). Mission ended. Heavy sigh. Nothing accomplished. Other than learning (again) that caterpillars can travel for many, many miles in the quest for whatever they're seeking. Time: 7:15 p.m.

Bluebonnets in the Meadow

They're SPREADING! We have more bluebonnets in the Meadow this year! I'm so excited! Some of these photos aren't that great, but I wanted to at least document what we've got. Because it's more than what we've seen in past years. O happy day!

There are a few Indian paintbrushes. I'd sure love to see more. Darn neighborhood deer chomp off the blooms, I think.

 Some purple prairie verbena are blooming, too.

Even the tiniest bluebonnet matters and adds beauty to our world.

More blooms

Fragrant gaillardia
I love blue-eyed grass!
Downy phlox

Brazos penstemon

Berlandier's sundrops

Mealy blue sage 'Henry Duelberg'

Red columbine

Friday, March 24, 2017

Blooms and bees

 More blooming around here! Like daminanita.
 Lots of crow poison everywhere.
 Engelmann's daisies

 While I was shooting photos in our wild wildflower area, I watched some carpenter bees on patrol. On a lark, I tried to photograph one. And I did! Can you find her hovering in the photo above? Below, I cropped the image close for a better view.

There she is again!
And finally, a thank-you gift of tulips from a friend. I took some photos for him. Thank YOU, Mark!