Sunday, June 28, 2009

Finch Feast

Somebody forgot to tell this House Finch that Johnson Grass is an undesirable weed. As the second photo shows, Mr Finch seemed to find it's seeds plenty desirable. As an added bonus the plant was growing just outside our living room window, so I was able to take these pictures from air conditioned comfort. I guess I'll have to group this dreaded weed in with the Thistle, as a plant I shouldn't automatically yank out of the ground. At least not before the House Finch has it's feast.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ugly Old Thistle

I've always despised the thistle plant. Yanked countless thistles out of the ground over the years, thinking them both ugly and painful. But it turns out the only time they are usually painful is when you pull on them. And left alone, they eventually achieve a unique beauty, at least to the attentive eye.

We've seen so many other creatures who are more than fond of the thistle; they rely on it for their survival. Hummingbirds, honeybees, several types of birds, and countless varieties of butterflies think it's one of the most beautiful plants on earth.

This year I've scaled back my assault on the thistle, limiting my pulling to paths and other areas where it would be a real problem. So I'm hoping that my efforts, or rather lack of effort, will result in a bumper crop next year.

I'm sure this approach won't gain wild popularity in the manicured suburbia most Americans live in. Which is another reason I like it so much.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Nature Calls

Sunday morning, May 31st. In less than three hours most of the wildlife you see here was photographed, right on our property. And there was so much more that our cameras were too slow to catch.

Beep beep. This Roadrunner was taking his time walking across the yard about 100 feet away from us.

This guy was cruising around the deck right beside us. He probably never suspected me...

Tons of butterflies. This one let me get up close and personal.

The Painted Bunting is known for being very shy, and this one was a little tough to photograph at about 40 feet away in the brush.

The Lesser Goldfinch is not shy at all, but is so tiny it is still hard to get a clear picture. They are so light they can land on the thistle and pluck out it's seeds without even bending it over.

We've seen this fox around many times, but you have to be VERY quick to get a photo. At 6:30 AM he was hanging around under the bird feeder waiting for breakfast when I stepped out the back door. He took off quickly but not before I got this fuzzy shot.

I guess this is some neighbor's pet. Like the fox, he was hanging around under the bird feeder, but a little later in the morning. Don't think he and the fox would have been good together...

One of the coolest things we've seen yet. Taken with a cell phone camera since the real camera was already packed away, this wasp (called a Tarantula Hawk) was dragging the tarantula across the road as we were departing the house. Guess he was taking him over for dinner with the family. I later found out on Wiki that this wasp has the most vicious sting in nature. If I'd
known that I probably wouldn't have gotten inches away from it to take this photo.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Sandy's visit

We spent last weekend in Wimberley with our friend Sandy, going to area attractions that we sometimes don't get around to doing very often ourselves. It's great to finally share the area with a friend we've been telling about it for years. The house may not be done yet, but it's "done enough" for most anyone who can appreciate the Texas hill country.

And, no trip to our place can be complete without doing absolutely NOTHING for hours. Sitting on the back porch and gazing at the hills is both hypnotic and therapeutic, and we got a good dose of that too. As an added bonus, the wildlife was especially active last weekend, so we got lots of photos of cool creatures that I'll put together in another post soon.