Did I Save a Baby Bird? And Summer Glory

Isn’t it about time I got back to nature observations? I think we all could use some sweet stories and pretty photos, so I’ll try to give you some of each.

I love this image of a wheel bug on the window at work.

The Dangling Finchlet

First, I’ll tell you about the house finch families who have taken up residence at the Hermit Haus, who entertain me and Mandi when we hang out by the carport. They sing and sing, and fly right next to us or sit in big groups chirping and looking spiffy (especially the males).

Hey, it’s hay and more hay.

Well, as we came out to leave this afternoon and I was trying to load paper towels in the car, something brushed against me. I looked left, and there was a poor little baby finch flailing away, but unable to fly off, because a piece of nesting material was stuck on its leg.

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A Strong Sense of Place

Prior to finding the Hermits’ Rest, I knew it was possible to have a physical attachment to a specific location. I may have written before about how my body feels better when I’m in the place where I grew up, in Florida. Is it magnetism? Pleasant memories? A placebo effect?

I don’t know, but I’ve become attached to our ranch just like with Gainesville. When I get to the creek, my body relaxes and the clutter lifts from my mind. Just like that.

One possible explanation is that I really knew the plants and animals, the weather patterns, the sounds, and the smells where I grew up. And over these past years, I’ve become that familiar with the ranch, working pretty hard at it with all my Master Naturalist classes and book learning. Oh yes, and just by being observant. Doing this has made me a part of this place.

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Pond-ering

Since it’s rained like crazy and the rivers are still rising, I thought it would be a good time to check out our pond, the arroyo, and the riparian areas at the front of our property.

A meadow pink for my newfound love of the color.

Also, since it’s time for the second wave of wildflowers, I’d check them out, too. I’m always happy when these pink beauties are shining forth, so that was a good start!

I’m so glad they didn’t get all of these in the hay!

The dogs came along and enjoyed their own “pond” made by Lee’s unfinished drainage area.

Thanks for the pond, Dad!

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Whew! Even Taking a Break Is Work

Fair warning: the reason I wrote nothing in any of my blogs yesterday is that even when I was resting I was doing stuff! Since I’m not at the computer yet, I’ll just summarize and write more later.

Vehicles

Friday was spent driving all over the county with Lee and Mandi looking for a good used car for her, and seeing if we could find a replacement for our huge diesel truck that we could actually use around Cameron.

Traverse
I actually liked this white, because we could put a sign on it. A nice used vehicle.

We found that I like a Chevy Traverse and Lee likes Suburbans, which are still too giant for me. Unfortunately Lee couldn’t get the trade-in he wanted on the truck, so we walked away. But al least I realized that a smaller SUV was okay for me and at least some Chevy vehicles aren’t plasticky.

The drive was worth it, though, because the countryside on the back road to Rockdale was gorgeous.

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We Had a Little Spring. Now Chilly.

My friends the blue-eyed grass have returned.

Well, shoot, just when I was really getting into long walks and frolicking amid the wildflowers, a late cold front has driven me indoors. Yesterday, we hosted an event at 11 am at our office. The front showed up right as all the attendees were coming in or trying to find us. A big wind and brief rain surprised everyone, and blew away my meeting signs. March decided not to go out like a lamb after all!

We have a patch of pink evening primrose that is nearly white. It’s striking against the green grass.

But, I did get a lot of flower-viewing, pet walking, and iNaturalist uploading done before the front! It’s a great year for flowers, thanks to the winter rains, so I know I’ll be out finding more to share soon.

Yellow Flowers

The wild and crazy collard green in bloom.

Here’s something I’ve been grappling with lately. Many of the flowers that are blooming right now are yellow. They’re just beautiful, but when I try to photograph them, they are all washed out, making it hard to see details. Luckily, the collard greens I let go to seed (I ate off this ONE plant all winter) look pretty good. Perhaps the blue sky helped.

Poor little glowing flower.

But this ragwort, like many other yellow ones I’ve photographed, looks like a bright blur. I have tried adjusting the color on my phone, but no luck. Suggestions? Get a real camera! Yes, I know.

Just a giant dog, making ripples in the pond!

I’m looking forward to warmer weather soon. I know the dogs are, too. Alfred had a fine time yachting around in the pond on Friday, but I don’t think he’ll try today!

Take care, friends, and don’t forget to like, share, and comment!

What’s in Bloom? Who’s Happy?

Stork’s-bill lights up the lawn.

That’s the question I asked myself this weekend. So I wandered around with my head down to see what’s there.

I

Speedwell is so tiny, but it lights up the ground as it opens by midday.

was surprised to find the lawn (sorta) around our old church property blooming away. Granted, they were tiny wood sorrel, blue speedwell, and pink storks-bill flowers, but they were enough to keep at least four kinds of small butterflies happy.

These are prettier in person. Their bodies look blue.

I saw lots and lots of these lovely tropical checkered skippers, plus elusive little sulphurs and a hairstreak. And my friends the fiery skippers still are hanging around. Not bad for December.

The fiery skipper loves the wood sorrel.

Looking Up

When I looked up, I noticed the big oak tree (the only tree on the property) seemed to be shaking, even though there was no breeze. Then I heard a whole lot of chattering.

The tree is holding up well, even though it lost some limbs in recent storms.

The tree was filled with fat, happy squirrels. They ran up and down, jumped over branches, and tussled.

I’m a happy rodent.

Why were they so happy? Well, it’s autumn, and this tree alone has provided enough acorns for an entire city of squirrels. Why go elsewhere?

The ground is solid acorn. Busy tree.

I wish you the bounty and happiness these little guys have found. I also hope you are finding the life and beauty wherever you are. It’s there!

Katydid Awareness

katydid
Katydid on the garage entry thing in Austin.

My whole life I’ve heard about katydids but, I guess I’d never seen one in person until yesterday. I was driving into the parking lot at work, when I saw a bright green leaf, but the leaf turned out to be an insect.

I quickly parked my car and went over to see what it was. Of course I took a picture so I could upload it to iNaturalist. What a cool bug it was, too!

When I uploaded the photo, I saw lots of potential katydids, but I figured it was probably the most common one. That turned out to be wrong, as the person who reviewed it for iNaturalist said it was actually a Central Texas Leaf-Katydid, which is more rare and more local. That’s cool!

I also sent up two flowers to be identified after I got to the Hermits’ Rest yesterday. They are two of the more late-blooming wildflowers. I am pretty sure I got the ram’s horn right. That’s one I look forward to every year. We only have a few:

ramshorn
I guess I like these because although the flowers are delicate in appearance, they are really big.

The next plant I am not so sure of. We have quite a bit of it, but when I uploaded it to iNaturalist, there wasn’t much about this one, if, in fact, I identified it correctly. It appeared to be Lady Bird’s Centaury, which must be named after Lady Bird Johnson, right? It said it had not been reported yet. That sounds fishy to me, so I am awaiting a correction from one of the botany experts by morning. It’s great to have the opportunity to learn this way.

centaury
It was really windy when I took this, so I had to hold the plant.