Monday, September 6, 2010

A Wildlife Weekend

Pipevine swallowtail butterfly on Lanai Bright Pink verbena

I hope you all had as lovely of a weekend as I did. The weather here was great - dry air (can't say enough good things when it comes to lack of humidity around here!), moderate temperatures during the day, and cool evenings. Wow, an early taste of fall for us. So naturally, it brought me outside and into the garden. I was amazed at all the critter activity - birds, bees, other pollinators, one or two nasty insects, lizards - they were dazzling me with their comings and goings. So I thought I'd share a slice of my backyard life with you.

Male pipevine swallowtail

The butterflies are starting to make their appearance. Lucky for me I purchased a detailed butterfly guide recently. I learned to tell the difference between the male and female pipevine swallowtails and I definitely had a male one hanging around. They're difficult to photograph because they flutter their wings constantly.

Gray hairstreak on 'Autumn Joy' sedum

My first ID of a gray hairstreak. I planted amsonia for these little guys; it's one of their larval foods. But they didn't eat any this year (and the amsonia didn't bloom again this year, but that's another story).

Sulphur butterfly on flame acanthus

I'm pretty sure this is a cloudless sulphur. The cloudless and clouded are a little difficult to tell apart. I also saw two common buckeye butterflies but didn't have camera in hand at the time. It's the first time I've seen them in my garden.

Various pollinators on 'Autumn Joy' sedum

The 'Autumn Joy' sedum was covered in all sizes of bumblebees, thread-waisted wasps, butterflies and other little pollinating insects. I couldn't believe all the activity on it plus the diversity.

Giant bumblebee?

These bees, with their darker wings, look a lot bigger than other bumblebees. So are they really bumblebees? I have no idea.

Honeybee on basil flowers

Though I always see many bumblebees in my garden, I rarely see honeybees lately. Mostly I see them hanging around the bird bath when it's desperately hot and dry. So it's always a good thing to see them doing their pollination thing.

Anole on garlic chives

The garlic chives, just now coming into bloom, are also a hot spot for pollinators. And this anole! Perhaps he wanted to make a meal of one of them.

Duba and a bumble on garlic chives

Our cats are indoor cats but when the weather's nice, we sometimes take them for a little walk in our arms around the garden. Duba, especially, loves it. I think he'd be a very happy outdoor cat if we'd let him.

Ugh, mating Eastern lubber grasshoppers

The bane of my existence this year. My Buddhist friends probably think I'm barbaric for all the killing of them that I do. If I get to it, I'm going to post about which hostas survived these grasshoppers and which were not so lucky.

White breasted nuthatch

I love my little nuthatches. I know I have two of them for sure. I've come to recognize their funny little calls. This one is climbing down for a snack at the birdfeeder.

Downy woodpecker, ringed turtle-dove, cardinal, Carolina wren

The ringed turtle-dove is the big pig at the bird feeders these days. I wish I could have a separate feeder for them just so they wouldn't bogart the food from the rest of the birds. But if I tried that, I'm afraid it would just bring more of them.

The squirrels benefit from all the seed the turtle-doves spill!

Hummingbird on flame acanthus

The hummers, most likely all ruby-throated hummers, are starting to fight like crazy over the feeder. Fortunately there are other flowers available to them. I'm so glad I captured this particular bird because I kept thinking I saw a little white cap on its head. Sure enough, you can see it in this photo. I wish I knew why it had it!

Moonflower vine just opening

And now to break from all the garden critters, I thought I'd close with a few shots of a moonflower opening.

Fully opened. Don't you love the still-crinkled petals?

Moonflower the next morning

I hope everyone has a great September and if you're going to the Garden Writers Association Symposium in Dallas this coming weekend, I hope I get a chance to see or meet you. I'll be at the tweet-up on Friday so look for me there!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2010. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.


  1. What wonderful butterfly photos, Jean! A terrific bounty of wildlife you had visiting this weekend (except the squirrel ;-D).

  2. Those butterflies are so gorgeous. I can never get good photos of them! They fly away so fast before I get a good shot.

  3. Hi Jean, those are some amazing shota, especially the opening moonflower sequence. Duba is a cutie!

  4. Jean - I keep complaining the same complaint - everyone seems to have butterflies but me. Why? I never use poisons and have tons of plants for every life stage. Have migratory patterns changed? What's going on up here in Heath? That's a rhetorical question that southerners probably cannot answer.

  5. Jean, I'm so glad you've had cooler, drier air to enjoy ... clearly the wildlife population is happy about it, too! Lovely pictures, as always!

    Give Duba a scratch in his favorite spot from me!

  6. I had a pretty good weekend Jean~thanks for asking! Very nice butterfly photos~I find them very difficult to photograph now~they won't sit still for long. Fantastic hummer shot, too.I love watching birds at the feeder, but squirrels are a huge problem...gail

  7. Glad you finally had good weather & were able to get out in the garden. Your butterfly shots are terrific. I can't seem to get a shot of the sulphurs, much less ID them as clouded or cloudless. Your shot of the Anole is incredible - it matches the blooms perfectly. I think the "giant bumblebee" is a mason bee.

  8. I think you might be a better photographer than gardener, but it's close, real close. Keep giving us hope that our gardens might look like yours some day.

  9. Great shots!

    That might have been the remnants of a paint dot on the hummer's head. Can you blow up the pic to see if he's wearing a band?

  10. Then again it may have just been pollen.

  11. Great shots of the butterflies, blooms and hummer! Your moonflower nearly sends its sweetness through the screen... certainly awakens my memories. I did not plant it this year. Lovely! ;>)

  12. Great photos, Jean! The hummer photo is especially good, because I know how hard it is to get one of them that isn't blurry. I'm finding myself spending as much time in the garden enjoying the wildlife as the flowers, too, these days. I don't know what kind of bumblebee you have, but I have learned there are several species; we have these huge ones, too. Glad to see the butterflies have found you--have a good time in Dallas!

  13. Your garden is looking great! I can't believe the number of bees on my big sedums like Autumn Joy. There are so many it's a wonder they don't weigh down the flower heads ...

  14. Love all your butterfly shots Jean. My garden is full of them - but I have no idea what they are and I can't seem to manage to take decent photos of them. Oh well, I'll just sit out in the garden and listen to the buzzing of the bees while I watch the colorful butterflies flit around. Thanks for sharing your photographic talent with us!

  15. Your blog name had attracted me to come over. Like the name and also the photos. Great shots! Enjoyed reading your blog too.

  16. Love the moonvine shots. I can almost smell that fragrance, sweet and subtle from a distance.

  17. I love the hummingbird shot, I can't ever get them...not fast enough! Beautiful photos, really!

  18. Some of the photos are so amazing. They really are mind blowing, I have always wonder as to how a person can get so good a photography and take up close and personal photos like that

  19. Great Pics, gotta say you do some amazing work. Looking forward to more.


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