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Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.



Wednesday, February 4, 2015

February - Wildlife Wednesday

Winter temperatures in Central Texas can easily span 40 degrees as we move from warm afternoons to overnight freezes.  I'm not sure how most local critters handle such abrupt swings, but individuals from a resident population of anole lizards have developed some distinctly different coping mechanisms.

Whenever it is sunny this guy takes full advantage of the warmed cement mass of this small saint's statue.  Constantly adjusting his position relative to the position of the sun and his temperature, I don't know where the lizard shelters when it is too cold or dark, probably under some part of our house that provides a tiny (to us) access point.
I'd only ever meant the statue to stand in a planter by the front walk temporarily, but with such a chummy relationship developing, I don't have the heart to change things up.  Check out Mr. Basking Robbins.
Occasionally we let our two indoor cats on the front porch to do a little basking of their own.  The Audubon Society would have you believe every house cat is a predator simply waiting to be released.  According to their information, cats allowed outdoors will instinctually wreak havoc on an unsuspecting population of garden wildlife.

I'm not arguing against their stance.  But should she accidentally get out, the smaller of our two cats poses little threat.  You'll note the anole (on the statue) is aware of and watching the cat, while the cat, well...
Protected from threats of predators or weather either one, two other anoles are full time tenants in the greenhouse, where things are a bit more on the climate-controlled side.


Often perched on support rails near various irrigation spray and drip hardware, these two have plenty of hiding spots should a nosy gardener with a camera get too close for comfort.
Taking into account the full spectrum light, controlled heat and moisture, the greenhouse is an idyllic winter hangout.

Other busyness on sunny days involves a plant I take for granted most of the year.  Banks of rosemary are covered with tiny blue blossoms throughout January and February.
Whenever the sun comes out the bees soon follow.  These are the only flowers to visit around here at the moment. Traffic can be brutal.
Funny.  I used to watch out for bees, now I watch out for them.
Happy happy bees.  

That's my Wildlife Wednesday offering for February 2015.  Warm ongoing thanks to Tina at My Gardener Says for hosting, and for encouraging and supporting good native gardening by her example.  Go read her thoughtful contribution first, and then be sure to check the Wildlife Wednesday comments section for links to other wildlife centric posts.  See you there!




24 comments:

Tina said...

Beautiful post, as usual, with humor and thoughtful text. And those photos!! The bee in flight, the lizard glaring--which of group do I like the most??

My cats aren't always on the prowl, either. They love to watch and both have hunted vermin more than birds. My little Astrud (and she is a small cat) has very nearly nabbed squirrels--both hunter and prey always look so surprised....
I love that your anole continue as ornaments for the statuary.

Oh, and "Mr. Basking Robbins" I love it!!

Thanks for joining in!

TexasDeb said...

Tina: Thank you! You realize you are only encouraging my proclivity for bad puns and nicknames, right? When those pitchfork wielding mobs finally show up, I'm putting you in front of me as protector. "It's HER fault! - Grab her!".

gardeningjules said...

Took a while to see your post, we have a slow download speed here, 3 devices later and I can finally see your lovely photos. Hurrah! It was worth the wait. My eldest daughter rescued a feral cat about 10 years ago, we try to keep him in at night even though he is old now, I know he takes mice and voles and we've seen him eat a pidgeon in the past. We had a bird house/table but the cat slept in it, we do not have a bird bath either as that may as well have a sign saying lunch. So we manage the cats visits outside and enjoy a range of wildlife. Really love your Lizard on the statue photos too.

TexasDeb said...

Jules: Thanks for dropping by and commenting! Sorry about the download speeds. I wrestled with keeping photo sizes smaller but then decided I'd choose shots that make it worth the wait. I'm deeply relieved you agreed!

Cats and birds - we keep ours in except for an occasional foray on the front porch, but they do watch every hop, skip and flutter from our windows. I think if they were out for long, both our cats would at least try to turn the bird feeders into snack bars!

littledutch said...

I just recently came across your blog and I have to say I love it. Your pictures and stories are great. I especially like the picture of the bee in flight around the rosemary. I took one like it last year. Also, I have one cat that could care less about the wildlife around her and one that occasionally brings a dead rat into the house. Yuck. I'd be unhappy if he messed with my birds, but he can have all the rats he wants.

Debra said...

As Tina says, another beautiful post. That first photo is perfect. Just perfect. I have heard that well fed pets don't really rate as much of a threat to wildlife. Feral cats that need to feed themselves are another story. That matches my experience. Our cat was a rescue cat and she is certainly interested in birds and lizards but she also strikes up 'friendships' with squirrels. The speeding cars are much more hazardous to wildlife around here.

TexasDeb said...

littledutch: Welcome, and thank you very much for your kind words. It honestly means a great deal when I have a reader who has stopped long enough to comment, especially when they express their enjoyment of the site. No other reason I'm here.

You are rightfully proud of your bee shot. Catching a bee in flight has been in the works for me for a long time. It proved a lot trickier than I thought!

Rats. Ooof and ugh. Your cat is welcome to mine!

TexasDeb said...

Debra: I've read that about well fed cats too - it was one reason we began feeding a very shy feral cat who starting appearing on our back deck years ago. Sadly she disappeared again. We choose to believe she found a suitable host family and moved in with somebody who now keeps her safely indoors.

Because you are right - humans pose the greatest ongoing threat to all the animals - wild or tame. We can all keep our cats inside but that won't keep birds from slamming into windows on our structures. Or from eating poisoned insects and plants. Domesticated cats are just part of what is really a "human" problem.

Shirley said...

Another fun post! Basking Robbins is so cute. I can almost hear that Rosemary fairly humming with bees.

Unfortunately, I occasionally find a lizard or bird that has been caught by one of the neighborhood cats. It's part of what happens out there in the big bad world.

TexasDeb said...

Shirley: Thank you - I'll pass along your compliment to Mr. Robbins.

Growing up my parents had a fierce old tomcat who would catch what we called "mountain boomer" lizards which always made him throw up copiously afterwards. Unpleasant for everybody, but he caught every one of them he spotted for years. Instincts can be powerful motivators.

Anna said...

Another wonderful post! I love your lizards. All we seem to have in that area are those little geckos that get into your house when you're not looking. I'll honestly admit that our cat has some fun with those when they sneak past the door, but she's a house cat, also. She doesn't get overly excited about any of the outdoor wildlife that she sees through the windows! The bees in your pics are so pretty, their wings are so delicate. Thanks for posting such nice photos of your wildlife.

TexasDeb said...

Anna: Well, thank you. I admit - I admire the little geckos as well and try to rescue the ones that sneak in from out cats. They are so tiny. I feel monstrously large and try for a delicate touch.

Kris Peterson said...

I initially took that for a full-sized statue and thought "that's some lizard!" I was relieved to see that my sense of the scale was off! I let my indoor cat out for 5-10 minutes each morning while I clean out her box. Ever since she mistakenly escaped and spent an entire night outside (with coyotes in the neighborhood!), she's insisted on a little outdoor time. She mostly sniffs after the raccoons, explores under the shrubs and chews grass. This morning I saw her watching some foolish doves eating seed scattered below a feeder but she made no move on them, although I did send the birds off soon afterwards just to be safe.

TexasDeb said...

Kris: Yup, we grow 'em big here in Texas. : )

I'd never watched cats outside so closely before having indoor cats now that I let out only for a few minutes under supervision. I'm noticing how nose-driven they are, which I'd always thought was only a canine behavior. They are so fascinating!

dryheatblog said...

Anoles already out and about? And I was impressed that our trailing rosemaries haven't stopped blooming all winter, and there are occasional bees, grasshoppers, and flies. Well, not the flies...

TexasDeb said...

DHB: Flies have their place. Just, not in my house. Outside on early blooms they are welcome to whatever they need. (I can be generous!)

I thought our hard freezes meant the anoles were out for the season, but I'm seeing them in a few of their favorite haunts. Besides the greenhouse, we have a handful living under the rock work on our house. Anole townhomes!?

Laurin Lindsey said...

I enjoy your posts! I love the little green anole lizards! The ones in your green house are very smart to winter there. In Houston we are getting more of the Cuban brown anole lizards and they are taking over the native habitats of the green ones. I have an outdoor cat that loves to watch the birds...but you know she doesn't eat them. We are in the territory of a hawk that seems to hunt our birds and even picked a squirrel off the roof. Happy Gardening!

TexasDeb said...

Laurin: Welcome and thanks for commenting! I'd read about the brown anoles (Cuban in origin if I'm thinking of the correct species) and how they were taking over in Florida. I hadn't realized they'd made it to Houston as well but that makes sense. Very similar temperature ranges for much of the year.

We have a mating pair of hawks nearby and see other hawks occasionally. They are so majestic and fierce. Quite the opposite of my little anole pals!

Donna@LivingFromHappiness said...

Oh I love lizards and wish we had them here...such cuties. I do miss the bees and can't wait to see them again soon. Lucky you!

TexasDeb said...

Donna: Welcome and thanks for commenting! Anoles are like puppies or kittens - most folks find them just about irresistible. I know I do.

It is a little bit on the frigid side where you are gardening for bees, isn't it. Our native bees are hibernating (most are ground dwellers rather than hive builders) but the imported European honeybees are out every sunny day, looking for anything in bloom. Some winters I have bolted broccoli blooms to draw them in but this year, with a little rain, the rosemary is really in high gear.

Hope you'll drop back by.

Rebecca Newcomb said...

What a cute little anole you have hanging out in your garden. I love the pic of him looking at your kitty cat, making sure that he is not seen. I haven't seen any adult anoles in my yard over the past few months. Then again, I don't have a nice, warm greenhouse for them to lounge around in. I do see a handful of the translucent baby lizards from time to time in the shelter of the garage. Thanks for sharing!

TexasDeb said...

Rebecca: All the birds you have happily gathering at your house may explain why you aren't seeing (because I bet you are having!) anoles. And once you spot their favorite hangouts, they do seem to be creatures of habit. Thanks for dropping by!

Pam/Digging said...

I miss the anoles we used to see in such numbers in my former garden in central Austin. In my current garden in NW Austin -- not a single one. We do have the much more flighty Texas spiny lizards, but they don't sit lazily around for the paparazzi. I'm glad I can enjoy your anoles vicariously through your photos.

TexasDeb said...

Pam: I think we established last year sometime that you and I have a case of mutual Lizard Envy. I think your spiny lizards are exciting and exotic looking but they are not particularly papparazzi friendly, it is true. And I work not to take the anoles for granted. I'm quite grateful for their company.