Friday, April 8, 2016

A salvia by any other name...

The label said Henry Duelberg salvia. I bought two. One was decimated by the chickens (scratch.. scratch). The other grew up.. taller and a bit more.. purple than what I thought a Henry Duelberg should look like.

It is now at least triple this size.

I do believe this is an Amistad salvia. Mistaken identity.. but it fits well enough in its location and the bees absolutely love it. Hopefully it won't reach 6 feet tall (a possible height). The purple fits better with the color scheme anyways :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday

Time for another Wildlife Wednesday. April is a wonderful time for it. The first shots are from my weekend visit to Mason, Texas..

Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) among Huisache daisies

Dung beetles (Phanaus adonis?) hard at work rolling their treasure down the road. The bottom one is partially hidden by the grass. On first look I thought they had white polka dot markings, but looking closer I think they were carrying baby beetles on their back.

Sulfur butterflies (Colias eurytheme) in constant motion and everywhere!

Another painted lady and bluebonnet.

Busy bee on helmetflower (Scutellaria integrifolia). As I hiked through the hills covered in Huisache daisies and other natives I could hear a low constant buzz as the bees flew from bloom to bloom. Talk about vibrating with life..

Painted ladies everywhere! This view of one shows the "eyes" on the outside of its wings.

Back at home: 

Eight spotted forester moth (Alypia octomaculata) poking around my newly seeded Thunderturf lawn (buffalograss, curly mesquite and blue grama). I think she found a broadleaf weed for me :)

Katydid in my Gay Hill rose

A Question mark caterpillar (Polygonia interrogatis) under the elm trees (a host plant). He seemed as curious about me as I was about him!

A Monarch butterfly caterpillar tucked under the tropical milkweed.

Easter tiger swallowtail butterfly larvae just starting on my fennel (I plant it for the butterflies).

A week or so later- it has orange dots in contrast to the Monarch's yellow stripes.

Two weeks earlier I spotted a Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) enjoying the verbena. 

My resident cardinal enjoying the feeder. Harder to see on the bottom picture are the house sparrows perched next to it on the same cable. When my feeder is full at least 6 try to get on it at a time!

It's satisfying to have turned what was mostly lawn into a native habitat that is buzzing, crawling and fluttering with spring time excitement. Thanks to Tina at for creating Wildlife Wednesday!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Hill Country outing

We visited my parents again at their place outside of Mason and it was the perfect time to enjoy the Hill Country wildflowers. Highway 71 had a fair show of bluebonnets between 281 and Llano and Highway 29 had a good show of bluebonnets and indian paintbrushes. Not many yellows nor prickly poppies yet, and the fields beyond the fences showed more lush green than flowers spilling over. There weren't any "must stop" sights, so we enjoyed the show without pausing for photos.

Once at their place the kids did their favorite activities: splashing in the James River, getting sandy/muddy and climbing everything. We took a truck ride across the river with my youngest and his cousin (who was visiting the ranch for the first time) and they had a blast. I happily watched them burn energy as they raced up hillsides chasing my mother (with startled deer jumping head). A great place to let the kids be "free range" :)

Climb, jump, splash

A family of deer leaping in sequence (at least six of them). They looked plump and happy.

My youngest exploring the anatomy of prickly pears.

Rock scrambling

Greener than usual- many sotols, mesquites, live oaks, cedars, persimmons and cacti to hike through. My parents have methodically cleared cedar and cacti over the years to let native prairie grasses such as big bluestem, little bluestem, sideoats grama and many others reestablish themselves. 

Butterflies among the PYF's ("pretty yellow flowers"- many daisy varieties such as Huisache, greenthread, Engelmann, etc!)

I never managed to capture the two hummingbirds in pictures, but they delighted in drinking from this claret cup cactus as well as the salvias around the house.

Mystery PYF's near the river. (Late note.. Texas flax per the NPIN database!)

The local hawk squawking at us (probably to stay away from her nest). Don't worry- we did!