Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Monday, August 27, 2012

Look who caught supper...

There is a juvenile anole that likes to hang out in the Sedum 'Autumn Fire'. I'd say he is pretty clever since he camouflages pretty well there making it a great place to hide out and hunt for his supper.

Today I caught him in action. He was being a little camera shy or maybe he just wanted to eat in peace and quiet without some crazy lady pointing a camera in his face. Truth be told it would be rather annoying having the paparazzi interrupting a perfectly good meal.

He kept sneaking further and further into the center of the Sedum trying to get away from me and the elusive black lens. I moved around trying to get a good angle but he wasn't having any of it.

Can you tell what he caught? I think it looks like a Katydid. They are related to grasshoppers and crickets, are most active in the evening and known for their loud song. They eat flowers, stems and fruits of many plants. So I say, way to go little anole and Bon App├ętit!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

There is a lot of squabbling going on!

There is a lot of chasing and squabbling going on in my garden!
For a change its not the kids or the dogs.

~The hummers are here~

August is prime time to see them in our garden because the males, females and juveniles are all here.

We have several ruby-throated hummingbirds that are racing, chasing and fiercely defending their food. Hands down the black and blue salvia is their favorite. 

Apparently, this branch is the best look out spot for the competition. 
(Note to gardener: do not to prune this dead branch!)

When they are still (which isn't for long) you can see how their feathers glisten in the sunshine. 
Are you talking about me?

It is exhausting business fending off the "enemy" all day long! 

Hey, what is that?
Oh, just a skipper butterfly (do you see it in the background?)

But the "enemy" can attack at anytime.

Get out of here! This is my spot!

I said, "go away" or I'll come after you!

Occasionally when the others are in the back garden or busy chasing each other around there is time for a quick shut eye.

Maybe even some preening time.

 But not for long...

And it is time to take off again.

They may be the tiniest birds on the planet but they have the biggest appetite.
They have the fastest metabolism in the animal kingdom, requiring them to eat 3 times their weight in nectar and insects a day. No wonder they are so protective of their food source. 

Linking with Camera Critters. Please stop over to see what other fun critters have been photographed.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive

I thought these lyrics were most appropriate when so many gardens are under the stress of drought and a long hot summer. Looking to the positive there is a time for all plants and blooms to shine. In my garden succulents stand out in late summer. Their blooms my not be the showiest but lean in and take a closer look and you will see their dainty blooms are really quite beautiful.

* * *

You've got to
Ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
E-lim-my-nate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to
Spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith, or pandemonium's
Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate this last remark:
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
Just when everything looked so dark?

"Man," they said, "we better
Ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
E-lim-my-nate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between!"

~Lyrics by Johnny Mercer (one of Georgia's own)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

GBBD: August 2012

June, July, now August...where did the summer go? Vacations are over, kids are back in school, its stinking hot and the garden is full of weeds. By the time August rolls around the garden has had three months of 90+ degree weather beating down on it day in and day out and it is looking rather tired.

But it is not all doom and gloom. This August has been most memorable because we've received almost 7" of rainfall! That is not a typo. Seven inches! And, despite this significant amount of water we are still in severe drought conditions.

So lets look on the bright side, it is Garden Blogger's Bloom Day and time to celebrate some late summer blooms. Be sure to hop, skip and jump over to May Dreams Gardens to participate in the blooming party.

The most prolific bloomers in my garden today are the mushrooms! The heavy rain and warm temperatures created the perfect conditions for mushrooms to sprout.

They are popping up all over the garden.

I find them so fascinating. They come in so many shapes and sizes and often look like something from a Sci-Fi movie. 

This time of year, we tend to spend a little less time working in the garden because it just gets too darn hot. But there is still lots of activity going on. These are ideal conditions for butterflies and there is lots of fluttering going on.

The butterflies play nice sharing blooms...

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails on Buddleia

patiently wait their turn...

Skippers on Zinnia

And gracefully share with the competition...

Tropical Checkered Skipper and bee on Gaillardia

they even color coordinate for photo ops.

Gulf Fritillary on Lantana

The Encore azaleas are putting out their second round of blooms. Normally we see these blooms in early fall but whose complaining? 

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Encore azalea

The Sedum buds are a favorite place for the tiny anoles to hide out.

Autumn Fire Sedum with anole

The Beautyberry bushes are fruiting. I associate them with fall but mine always appear in August. It is a sign that the next season will be unfolding soon.

Only 38 days until the official start to fall. Are you counting down?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Everyone Has To Eat, Right?

Everyone has to eat but please not my butterflies! 
Look who was lurking in the butterfly bush looking for a quick snack. 

Thanks to my friend [and fellow Master Gardener] Penny for identifying it as the Green Lynx Spider. It is considered a beneficial for its effectiveness in controlling insect pests but they are indiscriminate predators.

They can run very fast and jump on their prey like a cat. Its bright green body camouflaged very well on my butterfly bush and allowed it to ambush this skipper. Sadly it looks like he caught the Zabulon that I just identified and showed in my previous post.

I am hoping that next time this guy gets hungry he can go after some of the leaf-footed plant bugs or squash bugs that are invading the kitchen garden. Any of the pest insects, but please not my butterflies!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rain Makes Everyone Happy

Thunderstorms and rain were on the menu for this weekend. When the showers stopped briefly yesterday I took a walk around the garden. The humidity climbed as the sun peaked out from behind the clouds but the plants and animals were happy.

These three pollinators are happily sharing two Gaillardia blooms.

I saw this brightly colored skipper butterfly for the first time in our garden. Using the Butterflies and Moths of North America website I identified it as a male Zabulon Skipper. There is a regional checklist feature on the site that allows you to get a list of butterflies in your area - down to your county - which narrows the search and makes it more manageable. It lists the butterflies by species and there is a link with photographs and details on each one.

Another common skipper is the Silver-spotted seen here on Salvia greggii.

The big butterflies were out too. This male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was warming up on the giant elephant ear before it got to work.

The female (below) was already out floating and gliding around the garden. They are so graceful and fun to watch.

Dragonflies were racing around the garden too, most happy with the replenishment of the water supply. This one took a very brief rest; they never perch for long as they are always on the go. I used my Stokes Beginner's Guide to Dragonflies to identify this as a female Common Whitetail. It looks very similar to the twelve spotted skimmer that I also often see here.

The bees were out in mass covering themselves in pollen. This bumblebee was so heavy on one of the lower branches of the Salvia it was touching the ground.

The Russian Sage and Purple Coneflowers I have planted together is one of the bee's favorite areas.

All that work makes for thirsty bees. They even have to stop for a quick drink at the bird bath too.

Summer is a time for the spring babies to grow and we are seeing plenty of them in the garden. Lots of juvenile Eastern Fence Lizards scurry around in the rocks and walls throughout our garden.

The once upon a time tadpoles that we had in our pond all spring and most of summer are now tiny toads.  They are using the protection of the weeds near the pond as a safe haven. Good news for me, I have the perfect excuse not to weed this area of the garden.

Every time I walk near the area they scurry for shelter and as small and shy as they are become a real challenge to photograph. Can you make out the teeny tiny toad?

I hope the rain is finding you where ever you are! Most of the U.S. is in dire need of rainfall. For now our garden is over joyed with the recent 1.5 inches of rain we received over the weekend.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Summer of the Green Frog

I have captured so many of these adorable creatures in my travels this summer. They even seem to enjoy posing for the camera. Perhaps the lack of rain has forced these frogs to "share" what wet space is available and therefore the denser population.

Hiding out in the shade of the lily bloom

Can you see the two frogs?

Floating on his personal pad

Just being green.

Taking a dip and cooling off.

This guy seems to be saving the fly for a snack later on.

Kiss me! I'm cute!

These photos were all taken at this pond at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. 

Is there an animal or plant that you have focused on this summer? Maybe even taken hundreds of photos of it?