Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Butterfly Friends


I've got two Gulf Fritillary butterflies that have been visiting the Pentas lately.



This shows the underside, which I think is so pretty.  I've decided to name these two Gully and Fritz.



I was really happy when this Monarch showed up the other day.  And yes, he's been named too - Monty.  (perhaps I don't have enough to occupy my mind, I name everything, haha)



Here's a pic of them playing nice together on the same plant.  There's enough for everybody!



I've also got a Giant Yellow Swallowtail that visits almost every day.  I've named her Swishy, because she never seems to stop beating her wings.  This shot I took at our previous place.  I haven't been able to get photos of Swishy yet...just movin' too fast!



We have a lot of White Peacocks like this one above.  I also see quite a few Yellow Sulphur butterflies.  



The one I haven't seen yet in our new yard, is our state butterfly the Zebra Longwing.  

So, I'd better get busy and plant some of their host plants (Passiflora incarnata) if I want to increase the odds of having them visit!  

Hope you all have a wonderful Turkey Day!  And if you don't recognize Thanksgiving where you live, I hope you have a wonderful day as well!     

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

November Notes from the Garden


This cute little Phoebe has been visiting the yard lately.  


There's two squirrels that visit every day.  They come for the peanuts and some of the sunflower seeds.  They can be quite the noisy buggers when they want to!  (but that's ok with me)


This photo I took at our previous house, but we have a raccoon coming in at night to drink from the birdbath and eat seeds.  She triggers the security lights, usually around midnight.


Oh, yeah - the armadillos are out here as well.  They're everywhere, making those little funnel-shaped holes.  *sigh* 


Pretty kitty is one of the neighbors three gorgeous black cats.  They're very shy and stay down the street.  That works well for us with our two dogs - one being very vocal!  


I finally got a few new plants for the backyard.  A firebush and tropical sage to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  And some hot pink geraniums - just because I like geraniums :)  There's also a little rosemary plant to go on my herb shelf garden.


In the background you can see my sad little lettuce seedlings. They're quite spindly, but I'm afraid to give them too much sun as we're still in the 80's.  They get the morning sun for several hours.  Soon they'll get transplanted to the big plastic dishpans that I got at the dollar store.  Put some drainage holes in the bottom and they're great for shallow rooted lettuce.  If anyone has any suggestions for growing lettuce - I'm happy to receive it, thanks!  (Vegetables have not been on my garden radar for a long time.)


I used fresh basil from my little herb garden to garnish this Caprese salad the other night.  What a difference fresh herbs make!


This is certainly not the best moon photo I've ever taken, but it's the only shot I got of the Super Moon this month.  It was so bright and gorgeous - I hope you got out to take a look!  



Friday, October 14, 2016

That Fluffy White Tree


If the Saltbush is blooming, it must be autumn in south Florida!  

I think it's very showy and looks quite pretty nestled in among the roadside woodlands.  But, it does cause me some respiratory distress as all those fluffy white seeds go flying through the air, causing my asthma to act up.

Luckily, I don't see any as I look around the woods near the house, so I'm feeling thankful for that!



I've been making some more small handmade envelopes out of an old garden journal.  I've used them to send seeds to gardening friends and I have a lot of fun in the creating and decorating process. 



I also use them to send tea samples out to my pen friends around the world.



Did I ever mention how much I love tea?  Well, that's a separate post that would probably go on and on and on...   Don't worry, I'll spare you :)



And since I don't have a lot going on in the garden - here's a couple of Sandhill Cranes that I thought were really cute.  This photo was taken at a marsh in the area.

I hope you're all enjoying the beautiful weather and the weekend!  


  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

I'd Lost My Mojo...


Pretty purslane - the deer haven't found them yet, which I'm kind of sad about since I haven't seen even one deer since we've moved here.  



I've mostly seen bugs and birds, lizards and snakes.  He thinks he's hiding, hahaha.



 Handsome, here, is easy to spot and he has a Cardinal family with a wife and three kids that all eat at the feeders.  



Here is Mrs. C. and she loves this mesh feeder that should have peanuts or corn in it.  I filled it with black-oil sunflower seeds when we first moved here (a couple of months ago), just to get a feeder up quickly.  Well, all the birds love it!  There's four feeding stations in the yard and they all want to hang out on this old thing.  



We had to get a new pole for this beat up old hopper feeder.  But I'm happy it's up because it keeps the seed from getting wet.  



I'm not sure how this Red-bellied Woodpecker is doing.  She looks a little scruffy and I hope she's okay.  I've decided I'm not loving this plain white fence as a background to bird photos.  I think it's so sterile looking.  I guess this is a great place to start planting, to get some pretty backgrounds again.



And why haven't I planted anything lately?  Ha!  Good question.  I didn't do diddly last month.  My husband had a very nasty virus which ended him up in hospital and of course, I got it and that took me out for a couple of weeks.  So I think September flew by and I just sat on my hiney.



The previous photo is of some Shepherds Needles wildflowers that we have an abundance of along the roadside.  They are excellent at attracting all types of butterflies, like this Zebra Longwing which is our Florida state butterfly.



And this bright orange male Julia butterfly.



The Beautyberries are all ripe and gorgeous looking.  Why is nobody eating them?  I keep reading how the birds are suppose to gobble them up and other wildlife too.  Nope - nobody touches these guys.  At least, not around here.  



Unfortunately, some birds do seem to like the invasive and exotic Brazilian Berries.  Which of course then spreads them quite effectively.  I've noticed quite a few mature trees in the woods and I'm sad to see that.  If you can learn to identify this tree in its small form, it's easy to pull out then.  Once it gets even a foot high, I find I have to get out the major tools to pull it all out. 



Yup - it's getting to be that time of year again when the goblins and ghosts are around.  I'll be out there trying to get some spooky photos.  All Hallows' Eve has always been a favorite!  

I think George Carlin is attributed to the saying I added to this full moon shot.  There's so many fake quotes going around I almost hate to add a credit.  But, I didn't want you to think I wrote it.  I'm not clever like that.  Bugs and Hisses to all!  :)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bird Migration is On!


When the different warblers start showing up, I know migration has begun and I start looking around the trees to see who's visiting.



I didn't get great shots of this Northern Parula, but I'm excited to have any at all, since this is the first one I've seen.  They're not a rare bird, I just haven't come across one before.  They sure are cute.



Talking about cute - this little Blue-grey Gnatcatcher is adorable!  



They're so little and they flit around really fast and it's definitely a challenge to photograph them.



There's a lot of trees around the area, so it was hard to get a clean shot without lots of leaves.  



This Yellow-throated Warbler was zooming around the pines too.



Here's a shot from last year that shows how beautiful these birds are.  He was very nice and posed for me out in the open.



This is a terrible pic, but this Bluejay has been hanging around the yard and I have never seen one with this light grey colorization on his back and head before.  I'm not sure what's going on, if you know, please let me know - thanks! 



I came across some mentions of a south Florida version that sounded kind of like this guy - but I'm just not sure.  Then I thought maybe he was leucistic (a partial loss of pigmentation), but I'm not sure about that either.  I'll have to consult an expert.  I do like how the leaves make a cheery garland along the bottom of the branch :)



Just for comparison - this is what the Bluejays around here usually look like.



The moon has been gorgeous this week!  Here's a shot I took of it early in the week in its waxing gibbous stage at 90%.



Before it got dark, I noticed way, way up some Nighthawks gliding around.  One thing that indicates that they're Nighthawks is the white bars on the underside of the wings.



Recognizing some of the bird silhouettes helps too.  The long pointed wings, large looking head on the smaller body and the notched tail along with the white bars helped to ID them.  They fly in big looping patterns in the mornings and evenings. They were just too far up to get any decent photos.  At least with my equipment!



I read in an article put out by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology how to make a drip water feature for your birdbath.  Since moving water is well known to attract birds, they said you could set up a pail with a hole in it to drip water into your birdbath.  Well, what a great idea.  And I didn't have to spend any money.  



I did have to patch up the hole and redo it smaller so the drip is slower.  This little bucket has a plastic liner and I am a bit concerned about any toxins I might be leaking to the birds from the paint on this bucket - so I will be looking for a better bucket solution.  I was excited to try it and best of all - it worked!  Of course, a Cardinal went in it when I didn't have the camera...



I did have the camera when this little guy was about.  I'm not the best at identifying frogs and toads, so I'm giving a tentative ID of Florida Gopher Frog on this guy.  He was so itty bitty - really cute.  I've seen three of them lately.  Once again, don't be shy to correct me please! 



And this Two-striped Walking Stick came to visit on the lanai screen. He stayed for two days and then went about his way.  




I'm preparing the feeding stations in the yard in hopes of attracting the Holy Grail of American songbirds - the Painted Bunting.  Last year they showed up in September, but they were regulars in my yard by then.  I'm putting out some good vibes their way (and white millet), hoping they'll find our new place. 



Of course, I welcome all the birds to the yard - even the ones lots of people don't like or think of as a nuisance.  This Grackle looks determined to stay no matter what.  It's okay by me.