Tuesday, May 30, 2017

In bloom

Getting ready for next spring

What a blessing! We've been getting some good rains this past week. So Sunday afternoon, before a storm blew through, I threw out some bluebonnet and Indian paintbrush seeds in the Meadow. More rain is on the way this week, too!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The lucky one

Last night, I lost an earring in our bedroom. So I grabbed James' super-duper, high-powered flashlight, turned it on, and shined it under my bureau. Ewwwww. Dusty! Ugh, a dust bunny, too....

From there, I swept the light beam across the floor toward James' cedar chest....


......oh, my.....

......time to fetch a critter container......

Using a pen, I coaxed the critter into the plastic jar, then carried the occupied jar down the hall.

"What cha got?" asked James from the couch in the living room. "A spider?"

I shook my head.

A roach?


A scorpion?


"You've got a scorpion, don't you?!"

Sheepish grin.

"Let me see it!" James took the jar from my hand and held it up to the kitchen light for a closer look. "I'll take care of it."

"No, you won't," I retorted. "I will."

But first, we had to have a brief photo session on the back porch. Then I tossed the striped bark scorpion (Centruoides vittatus) across the fence into some grass (no one lives there). 

Later that night, James made a startling announcement from the bathroom. "There's another scorpion!" 

No way! I've lived in this house 15 years and have found less than a handful inside the whole time. Two in ONE NIGHT? Sure enough, I ducked my head past the door and saw a big scorpion, nearly flattened by James' shoe, on the tile floor. 

"We're gonna have some storms," James muttered as he flushed the unlucky one down the toilet.

Neighborhood treasures

Within our Texas Wildscape, one of my big goals is to preserve the native species that grow in our neighborhood. Like the prairie brazoria (Warnockia scutellarioides) I found growing in a ditch on an adjoining street. I wish I'd gotten photos of them in bloom. They were so pretty! But I did go back yesterday and gather some seedheads (below). I threw some in our back yard and in the Meadow. Fingers crossed!

For the longest time, I'd also been lusting after a legume vine with yellow flowers that I thought I'd found several years ago in the vacant land across the street. Well, yesterday in the same ditch with the prairie brazoria, I spotted what I believe to be viperina (Zornia bracteata) with tiny yellow flowers. But the leaf arrangements didn't match. This vine has three leaves; viperina has four. But wait! I found some photos on iNaturalist of viperina with three. So that's got to be what I found. At any rate, I carefully dug up a couple of plants... UPDATE: My vine is a Texas snoutbean (Rhynchosia senna var. texana)! Now the leaves match! (Thanks, Blake)

...put them in a pot and added them to my little nursery in the back yard. I've discovered that dug-up transplants don't usually survive if you place them directly in the ground. So I'm trying again with some neighborhood treasures but placing them in pots so I can keep a close eye on them. These are (left to right): 

Scarlet pea (Indigofera miniata) I love the pink-reddish blooms of this legume. I'm hoping to establish it in our back yard so visitors can see how something they probably mow is really beautiful when left untouched. Like Texas bush-clover. I dug one up from our neighbor's side of the fence and planted it in our back yard. It's so PRETTY!

Wedelia and lyreleaf sage These little pots contain transplants from back yard....no biggie.

Velvet bundleflower (Desmanthus velutinus) Prairie acacia (Acacia angustissima var. hirta) This grows in the Meadow, where I dug up a baby. 

Viperina Texas snoutbean

Sensitive briar (Mimosa roemeriana I also love the pink powderpuff flowers on this legume (far top right photo). Plus, sensitive briar–despite its prickly branches–is always a hit with the kids. Touch the leaves, then watch them close. Cool! A transplant from the Meadow, too.

Stalked by a mockingbird

The other day, I was kneeling in the front yard, pruning some dead stuff. When I stood up, I turned around and found this mockingbird eyeing me from the crepe myrtle. He/she wasn't afraid of me at all. That's a mockingbird for you! (P.S. There's a pair in our yard currently feeding little ones.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bird bath noodling

One of our 20-odd bird baths in the back yard. Looks typical, right?
Ah, but look CLOSER....like I did awhile ago.
What ARE those? Tiny orange worms of some sort...noodling around in the gunk. Ewwwww. But then, so interesting...

 We MUST get photos and find out what's going on....

 Before someone refills the bird bath....

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bird band update

So we reported the bird band (without the bird) that James recovered Saturday in our back yard with his new metal detector. As you can see (above), it was once attached to a white-winged dove. James received the certificate of appreciation and an email that read:

The North American Bird Banding ProgramBird banding is important for studying the movement, survival and behavior of birds. About 60 million birds representing hundreds of species have been banded in North America since 1904. About 4 million bands have been recovered and reported.

Data from banded birds are used in monitoring populations, setting hunting regulations, restoring endangered species, studying effects of environmental contaminants, and addressing such issues as Avian Influenza, bird hazards at airports, and crop depredations. Results from banding studies support national and international bird conservation programs such as Partners in Flight, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and Wetlands for the Americas.

The North American Bird Banding Program is under the general direction of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Cooperators include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mexico's National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity and Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources; other federal, state and provincial conservation agencies; universities; amateur ornithologists; bird observatories; nature centers; nongovernmental organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the National Audubon Society; environmental consulting firms and other private sector businesses. However, the most important partner in this cooperative venture is you, the person who voluntarily reported a recovered band. Thank you for your help.

U.S. Geological Survey
Canadian Wildlife Service

Please report bands at www.reportband.gov or call 800-327-BAND.

Meanwhile, I emailed Shaun, who's still with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as the migratory shore and upland game bird program manager. He thanked me for sending the information. Cool, eh?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Look what James found!

Look what James found with his new metal detector–a bird band! We tried calling the 1-800 number, but no one answered (it's Saturday). For more info, check out this page on bird bands.

Madrone update

 Well, take a look at our Texas madrone now!
I must confess that the madrone is sharing its bubble of garden space with two volunteer tomato plants and a squash plant. James dug up some compost from our compost pile, where those vegetable seeds were hiding.
This photo was taken a week before (May 14, 2017).

A cottontail

This morning, I got to snap a quick photo of an eastern cottontail  (Sylvilagus floridanus) that ventured into our Meadow. After we moved into this house in 2002, my daughter and I used to see them more often. It's rare now that one shows up.

I've got nestlings!

Well, sorta.
Does this house look familiar? Yes, it's my former purple martin house. If you'll recall, Michelle in Austin bought it a few months ago. She's been so kind to keep me updated. And look! We have babies! I mean, Michelle has babies. She told me that so far she has four nests. They might even be using one gourd. I'm so happy for her! And it is so wonderful wonderful wonderful to see "my" martin house inhabited with happy purple martins!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A mallow

Desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

Windy day blooms

 Mexican hat
Fall aster
 Salvia 'Yellow'
 Texas lantana
 Zexmenia and heartleaf skullcap
Purple bindweed
Scarlet clematis
 Texas thistle in the Meadow
 Mountain pink in the Meadow!
Tiny asters in the Meadow