Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Rescued blue-eyed grass

With permission, I rescued some sword-leaf blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium ensigerum) from a neighbor's yard before it was mowed. This native is not a grass but a lily. We have a little bunch left in the Meadow. I transplanted these in our back yard. You only notice this pretty plant when it puts on its purply blue flowers. I love it!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Tumbling flower beetles

A few months ago, I bought a macro lens for my iPhone. What a difference it makes in capturing images of small critters. The picture above is a tiny tumbling flower beetle that I spotted dining in a pincushion daisy. I recognized what kind beetle it was by looking at its shape and profile. See the pointy, "pintail" end in the photo below? I think my friend is in the genus Mordellistena, possibly Mordellistena cervicalis
This find adds to our tumbling flower beetle species list. Last June, I happened upon one of the coolest things I'd seen in our yard. It was a tumbling flower beetle enjoying a shower on our water fountain. Click back to my post and you'll see a video of it skittering around. That beetle was Hoshihananomia octopunctata. Go ahead–try saying THAT taxonomic name a few times. Not me! 
In October 2016, I found a tumbling flower beetle on antelope-horns (photos below). It's not been confirmed, but I think it's Mordella atrata

In October 2017, I found another tumbling flower beetle (below) on a cowpen daisy. But I didn't get very good photos. Maybe it's Mordellistena comata. But then, maybe not. But one thing's for certain–THEY'RE ALL TUMBLING FLOWER BEETLES!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Rescued rain lilies

Do you remember the Hill Country rain lilies (Cooperia pedunculata) that we rescued from the vacant lot owned by Trinity Lutheran Church in November 2018? One of the seven bulbs was encased in a huge limestone boulder that James dug out. You can read the amazing story here. How that little seed ever got into a crack, grew in a bulb and survived is a miracle! Just wanted to give an update–all the bulbs have returned for another year, including our bulb in the rock. Happy spring, y'all!

Indigos in bloom

 Green wild indigo (Baptisia sphaerocarpa)

 Blue wild indigo (Baptisia australis)

Monday, March 23, 2020

Madrone update


This past weekend, I sent photos of our Texas madrone (Arbutus xalapensis) to Mike Prochoroff, who gifted her to us in March 2017. He raises the native species at his nursery, The Madrone Way. Here are his comments and thoughts about how she's doing:

"Sheryl, thanks for the Madrone update and photos. Photo 4338 looks like the deer are nibbling, but the surviving leaves look healthy.  Bites could be caterpillars, but they’d be early; the snipped ends look like deer.  Also, the black fungal spots look controlled, not expanding with the rains.  A good sign.  Again, you have rich soil and with healthy rainfall don’t need the weekly watering.

"Photo 4359 (again some browsing evident) shows good basal sprouts.  If this is the bottom of photo 4377, then the Madrone is healthily reacting to the stress.

"The top part of photo 4377 shows black leaves which are probably the overwatering reaction. But I think I see a few healthy green ones (so did the deer!), and that would mean you dried the root system in time and she’s turning around. Wait and see. Spring hopes eternal.  Or Hope springs eternal. It’s one or both."

Let's try some seeds

The weather has been gray, wet and chilly the past few days. So yesterday, I pulled out some old vegetable and flowers seeds and a paper pot maker. We'll see if I can get anything to germinate. C'mon, sunshine! We need you back for a few days!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Feather-legged flies

I can't believe this! While going through photographs for a magazine article, I discovered that I'd never posted these images taken in October 2015 on my blog. What a cool find! Meet a feather-legged fly (Trichopoda plumipes). 

I also found the same species in May 2018. That makes two different species of feather-legged flies that I've documented in our Wildscape. In August 2016, I found Trichopoda lanipes. You can see why they're called "feather-legged." 

Our spring vegetable "garden"

We escaped the house this morning and ran out to the Arnoskys' Blue Barn. Pamela and Frank are THE BEST! They are very special people, and we're honored to call them our friends. We bought some Pure Luck goat  cheese and Farmer Doug's Maple Syrup along with a cherry tomato and pepper plant. Let the growing begin!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Finally first hummer!

Black-chinned male. He's LATE this year!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020


Two spotted this afternoon among our peach blossoms!

Monday, March 9, 2020

Cleaning the stock tank

It's March. Time to tackle our stock tank pond. First, James lifted out the dwarf water lily and lemon bacopa from the bottom, where they overwintered. Then he pulled out the horsetail rush. Alas, the parrotfeather did not survive. Using a fish net, I mucked out the bottom but not completely.

Look what I found in the muck...a dragonfly nymph. (I felt so bad for disturbing it, which is a big reason why I quit mucking.) I know you can't tell from the photo what it is. So click on this link to see a similar nymph. I set it in the water lily pot and covered it back up.
I've got my fingers crossed the leopard frogs and other wildlife critters don't disturb my plants like they did last summer. Please let me keep my stock tank pond, y'all!

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Another milestone


In October 2018, I posted when I hit 500 species in our yard using iNaturalist for documentation. This past week, I've surpassed 900 species! My goal is to reach 1,000 by year's end.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

New owl box

In March 2008, we hung up our first owl nesting box for eastern screech owls on an abandoned utility pole in our back yard. It's an Owl Shack built by ornithologist Cliff Shackelford. The following September, we hung up this one in the Meadow (another Owl Shack). As you'll see in the photos, it has held up well through 12 years of wear and tear. Yesterday, James took it down and replaced with a new Owl Shack that we'd originally bought for my parents. We never got around to hanging it up for them (bad me) so it came back to us. James plans to repair the original one.  

Maybe we'll get baby owls again like we did in 2009! Stay tuned!