I always look forward to the snapping turtle mating season, when they wander around looking for friends or places to lay eggs or something. This morning I had my camera out in case the cat showed up. A movement caught my eye, and at first I thought it was an armadillo. But nope, it was this traveler.
We see these often, as readers are aware, but this was a good chance to get nice pictures, since I’d caused my buddy to stop ambling.
I’d wanted a good rear view of a common snapping turtle, so this gave me a great opportunity. Thanks for holding still, pal.
We have other visitors. I did finally get a blurry picture of the cat who’s hanging around here.
Barn swallows are the loudest visitors. We love them and their nests on our patios anyway. They do eat bugs!
And here’s a couple I found while looking for new flowers.
I spent a nice time today just looking at the plants and insects around the Hermits’ Rest. As I was walking down the path I enjoyed the Mexican Hat flowers (Ratibida columnifera or upright prairie coneflower).
I’ve always loved these plants, because they look cheerful, have cool leaves, smell interesting, and attract lots of insects.
I’m glad they are all along the drive between the two main houses, because I get to be distracted by the butterflies, bees, and bugs.
What’s weird is that I’ve been noticing weird flowers in the Mexican Hats. Really weird flowers.
They range from double flowers to extra flowers growing out of the cones to multiple cones. It’s quite odd.
Of course these aren’t “normal.” I see no flowers like that along the roadside. These flowers are next to the field where the oats were grown that became this year’s silage for the cows on the land we’ve leased out. They applied herbicide to get rid of non-oats, and it landed on the edges of the oats.
I feel bad for the flowers, but we gave permission for the spraying. That’s modern farming. As a Naturalist I may have a different viewpoint, but these folks need to make a living and feed their cattle efficiently. And they ARE cute when they are young.
There’s plenty of wild space here at the ranch, so I’m happy. Look at this gorgeous milkweed beetle!
It’s grasshopper season, too. There are just “a few” in the pasture where Sara’s horses are.
And I just have to say some of the bugs make me smile. This flower scarab beetle with its pollen butt is just cute.
I’m very grateful to have so many things to discover and observe here. I really enjoy sharing it with all of you. It’s a great journey.
It’s been a great day, for many reasons, and a great weekend. We took Apache out again today, and he was his old self again! He and Spice were very brave when they came upon some people building a new gate between our two pastures.
But they had fun. Fiona kept plopping down and rolling whenever she found dirt.
I also had fun seeing things this weekend. One is that I see signs that I wasn’t mistaken, we DO have a loggerhead shrike this year. I didn’t see one last year, and I was bummed. Today I saw lots and lots of insects impaled on our fence, though!
Plus! I’m very happy to share that another chicken started laying. Her first egg is pinkish and has little blue spots! On the other hand, Hedley, the one that lays white eggs, has started spending a LOT of time in the nest box. She did lay today, but if she’s gone broody I’m just giving her three eggs and letting her go for it.
I also found two new and interesting insects. First is the extremely cool Beelzebub Bee Killer Mallophora leschenaulti, which is a type of robber fly. This things is huge, loud, and intimidating. I saw two yesterday and two today.
The other new insect is what I’m excited about. It turns out that my entry of the Long-jawed Longhorn Beetle Dendrobias mandibularis is the first one Milam county and the farthest north it’s been seen.
Also, this is one of the most beautiful insects I’ve ever seen. So colorful!
I’ve been waiting to finally see something new and different to share on iNaturalist and I finally did! I feel so scientific.
I got an interesting surprise as I was heading to the office to write a bunch of blog posts. I saw a large group of black vultures (my favorites, because they seem more…attractive than turkey vultures) pecking away at something over by where the pond runoff comes out of the culvert under our driveway (which is secretly a dam).
I thought maybe they had a snake, and I thought I should go see what kind of snake it was. However, it was not a snake. It was this!
Oh, what a bummer. It appears that this delicious largemouth bass must have passed through the culvert and gotten dumped into the runoff area. It must have ended up in a part that was too shallow to swim in. Sniff.
But what did that tell me? It told me we have giant bass in our pond!* Who knew? Mandi should come fishing, or someone who likes to fish, anyway. Now that it’s mowed to the edge, the pond should be easier to work with. I figure we also have catfish, since I’ve seen channel cats that got pushed through the culvert before. Mandi and I totally failed at catching them, darn it.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement, when I got to the Pope Residence, I saw all sorts of things flying around right above the grass. What could that be? I spent some time trying to follow them around to see what they were, but then I realized I just had to look DOWN and they were everywhere. I thought they were Japanese beetles, but when I looked it up on iNaturalist, it said they are common green Junebugs. I guess they all decided to hatch after the rain.
Well, whatever they are, there are a LOT of them. I hope there are some at the ranch, so the chickens can have a treat.
And here’s a treat for YOU, readers! A nice picture of how cute the dogs are as they sleep with Lee. Maybe that will cleanse your palate from the fish, flies, and beetles.
* I am aware that this is a normal sized fish. It is big to me.