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.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Yesterday I went out prior to the arrival of the heaviest rains to see what was blooming despite the rain, and who was making their rounds besides the happy happy snails.
Jewels of Opar, Althea, Polk Salad plant and Cannas are not waiting for the sun to shine.
Mammatus clouds that appeared yesterday evening as the sun was setting. As striking as these clouds are in combination with weirdly colored skies, they are harbingers of significantly severe weather. No kidding mammatus clouds, we were already copied on that memo.
Area lakes are now half full, moving our area from what might be considered an agricultural drought more towards a hydrological drought, still affecting future municipal water supplies. People living around Lake Travis reported a heavy layer of debris accumulating, as the runoff after heavy rains acted like a wildly inconsiderate power washer, moving small docks, jet skis and all manner of loosely anchored material into the water.
I am deeply grateful for the safety of friends and loved ones, relieved to have escaped significant property damage, and on a much smaller scale, happy to note that despite winds, a bit more hail and torrential rains, the smallest inhabitants of our garden seem to be staying calm and carrying on.
Monday, May 18, 2015
It is caterpillar season, and though I gave up trying to properly identify most of what I found creep-crawling around the garden in between rain showers, I feel certain each of these caterpillars knows just what to do, what to eat, and exactly what it is shaping up to become.
|Chevron Striped Whatchamacallit|
|TeeWeeny Tiny Yellow Thingie|
|Sphinx Moth Cat on Fennel|
An infestation of Colorado Potato Beetle larvae was alarmingly sudden, but fortunately close enough to the house to trigger my awareness and ongoing response. Once I realized the numbers I was dealing with, the soapy bath of death came into play, and I am optimistic I put a significant dent in this large but very localized population. I don't grow potatoes, but have been known to toss a sprouted tuber into the ground covers out back for the occasional flowers they provide. I'm not sure if one of those vines pulled these bad players into our beds, but lesson learned. I won't be so careless with future spud rejects - they will all go straight into the compost bin.
|Colorado Potato Beetle Larvae - two different hatches|
A new (to me) visitor recently was this master of mimicry. A Large Maple Spanworm Moth took refuge on the tiles close to our front door. I was out sweeping leaves away from the house and it would be hard to say who was more startled. Me, when the leaf I was sweeping literally flew across the porch, or this nocturnal moth, who figured it had secured a good spot to wait out the return of night.
Of course if I'm going to feature creatures that blend in, there's no escaping including these photo bombers.
Begging your indulgence, I must include what is for me an obligatory Honeybee on Opuntia blossom shot. Rain or shine, the flowers on the spineless opuntia are putting on quite the show this year. Given any reasonable break in the cloud cover, the bees are quick to take advantage.
Finally, the Poppa and Momma mockingbird who set up shop across the street have successfully fledged at least one baby this year. They have relaxed just a little, finally allowing most regular street traffic to pass unmolested.
There is one particular male squirrel that seemed to take pleasure in being chased, going out repeatedly and keeping a fairly precise distance ahead of his pursuers. Days of rain seem to have interrupted the antics, but I have a feeling this bird and that squirrel have formed a chase challenge bond that will be playing out all summer long.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Apparently so. The proud new Mockingbird Mom and Pop have been frenzied in their attempts to forestall tree traffic coming anywhere near their nest. Their efforts have been all encompassing as they work to keep the nearby canopy emptied of lingering squirrels, paying special attention to assertive blue jays.
It must be exhausting, dive bombing so many, so often, fuss-fuss-fussing as they go. All that night-long singing must have really gotten Poppa Mock in good shape. I tried grabbing photos but the velocity and ferocity of his defense left me with nothing more than a series of varied blurs. I'll keep trying, but no photo [here] means you'll simply have to take my word. It is quite a show.
Mr./Ms. Mockingbird aren't the only new parents around. Poppa and Momma Wren have been out singing songs about the best wren babies ever! They've been raising young in a craft store birdhouse I hung on an upper deck to reflect on windows and deflect white winged doves who were otherwise intent on crashing through. I never expected it to actually house nesting birds, but expectations are apparently made to be defied, at least when it comes to wild parents.
|My babies are so sweet! So sweet! So sweet!|
|Heavy with young, these pregnant does aren't going anywhere fast. It won't be long now...|
At first I was absolutely beside myself with joy at the thought of watching her build a nest and raise young right before my eyes.
|I was being soooo quiet - do you think she noticed me? Yeah, I think she did too...|
To change things up from recent posts, I thought I'd show some winged visitors that are anything but butterflies. We've seen a lot of pollinator action, and though butterflies often grab most of my attention, they are by no means the only attractive action in flower town.
Flies, moths and bees are all equally beautiful in their own way, if you take time to really look closely.
|Condylostylus/Asian long legged fly posing on Pavonia leaf.|
|Syrphid fly, bee mimic, on Daisy.|
|Green on green, a Lucilia, or green blow fly, reflecting the morning sunshine.|
|What goes with purple? A tiny agapostemon decked out in deep emerald green.|
|Looking equally well accessorized, a Pink Evening Primrose with a slightly larger agapostemon.|
|...and not to be outdone, Coreopsis joins the fashion parade.|
|Unspecified bush Katydid nymph, looking pretty dapper on Winecup.|
|Take a bow and say so long!|
Thanks as always to blogger extraordinaire, Tina, of My Gardener Says, for hosting this most fascinating monthly meme. Be sure to check out all the other posts linked to in the comments section of her Wildlife Wednesday post for this month. You'll want to see who and what's shaking in wild spots from all around.