Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Coots and Cootlets...

" Two's company and here comes the crowd!"

 So we are on another exciting adventure! Well, for us getting out of the house and putting off a little gardening to see some birdies is an adventure! On this delightful day we went to an area called "THE LORAIN IMPOUNDMENT."  Sounds like a place where bad birds are sent.

It's part of the Lorain Harbor AND it's on the Lake Erie Birding Trail...of the Longest Twitch fame...or something...

Well you know summer birding, not always a lot to see, but what you see, you'll see a lot of! Those wacky American Coots have been busy as bees...or more like bunnies...out there. LOTS of babies wandering aimlessly and kids tend to do. ya go. Have a look...

 "Great, Mister Big Feet is gonna try to fit in here!"

 Cruisin' for food...

 So many babies!
What was going on in that marsh?!

 A proud parent with the kids in tow...

 Did you know that there are sometimes bumps in the water?

 Eating more...and more...and more...

 "Hey! What's that guy doing over there?"
 "Oh...huh-huh. I can see my feets!"

 "Whoa...too far!"

 "Stoopid kids...sheesh..."

 "Just watch me, not the duck!"

 This is the infamous "Pushmepullyou" subspecies of the American Avocet.
I should send this to the National Enquirer with those UFO photos...hmmm...

 Black Swallowtail butterflies have some mighty dangly legs!
 Be vewy, vewy qwiet...We're hunting wabbits!

 Hey! You got something on your beak!
House Finches are so messy!
 Oh my!
It's a Monarch sitting still!

 Trying to hide in the weeds, eh?
I found you!
(That's an Orange Sulphur.)

Say goodbye!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Just a few birds...

 I wish this Prothonotary Warbly was in my garden eating some of those bad nasty invasive lady beetles!

So...(haven't said that in a while!)...birding has been a little slow...though the garden has been busy as a bee...with bees and bugs. I thought I would take a break from posting the insects...AND trying to figure out what they all are! I found a file from May at Magee that I hadn't gone, here's a couple of warblies and what nots to hold you over until the fall migration really hits!

 Why are some Gray Catbirds so angry?
'Cause they don't live in our garden where The Doodles feeds them jelly everyday!
Spoiled rotten...

 "I can see all the way through to China!"
Baby American Robins are bottomless pits in case you didn't know.
 "Oooo...this water is feet!"
Silly Great Egrets...not so great in cold, dirty water!

"Birds From The Bottom!"
They don't trust me and my bloggity anymore, they never turn around.
(That's a Yellow Warbly by the way. You can tell because it's yellow.)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Life in the Garden...

Another Monarch butterfly pooping out an egg!
Sorry..."delicately placing" an egg on a common milkweed.
Such common language...disgusting!

Now that birding in the garden has slowed down...other than the hoards of Common Grackles, House Sparrows and European Starlings(with a nice smattering of Baltimore Orioles and Gray Catbirds thrown in for fun,) I'm back to my nightly "focusing" on bugs routine.

It's amazing what you'll see when you wander around the gardens every night. There are little changes all of the time here and buds budding, old buds wilting, bunnies and other fur balls making things disappear altogether, and new bugs every day!

Remember, NO MORE CHEMICALS in your gardens and you'll find a lot more to look at. Not to mention the world will be a healthier place.

 Yep, another Monarch egg.
I've found close to half a dozen on our milkweeds so far.
You really have to look closely!

This is a first instar Monarch caterpillar, about 4mm long.
He hatched Tuesday, by Wednesday he disappeared.
Possibly bird food...or I'm hoping he's just good at hide and see!
Check out "Monarch Watch!"
Everything you need to know to help Monarchs in your garden.

 Another egg on a milkweed.
I don't think this is from a Monarch.
We shall see soon!

 Speaking of milkweeds...this is a Large Milkweed Bug.
That's its name. Clever.
This is the only one in our garden so far this year.
The adults migrate to this area from the Gulf of Mexico.
They work their way north as the milkweeds seed pods develope.
Soon it will be crawling with larvae...we hope.

 This is a Green Lacewing.
We like them.
Their young eat Aphids.
We don't like aphids.
Bon appetit!

 This is a fresh Leafhopper.
Check out!
Everything you ever wanted to know about bugs!

 Something crawled out of this very, very small exuvia.
I hope it wasn't some alien!

 This was a HUGE Bumble Bee.
It might have mites on its leg if you look closely.

 A pretty Red Admiral on Queen Anne's Lace.

 I must send a thank you note to the birds for planting these sunflowers in our front garden.
The deer must thank them as well.
They've eaten most of them...rrrrrr.....
Budding buds!

Don't forget to "Bring Nature Home" to your garden!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Bringing Nature Home"

 Lots of good books this summer..."A Sparrowhawk's Lament," "Trees of Eastern North America," "The Thing With Feathers," but first, "Bringing Nature Home" by Douglas Tallamy. Me and The Doodles have been working on making our gardens more wildlife friendly for the past few years and I just discovered this fantastic book!

It covers just about everything you need to know to change your habitat from harmful to helpful. So many nurseries focus solely on decorative species(otherwise known as "alien") because they're pretty and insects don't eat them. Well, guess what? If bugs have nothing to eat, then birds have nothing to eat...or frogs, toads, mink or people. No insects, no pollination. As Mr. Tallamy states, "...insects have done fine on this earth without humans and would continue to do so in our absence. If insects were to disappear, however, our own extinction would not be far behind."

I've been going through insect photos from our gardens from the past years, and the variety has steadily decreased. We have more and more neighbors using lawn services and "pest" control. They can't figure out why they aren't seeing as many bees or lightning bugs. They just don't get it.

"Bringing Nature Home" is a must read for all of us. It explains simply what you can do to help out mother nature in your yard and neighborhood. We have a few neighbors that now understand that our yard is a little crazy for a reason. In chapter 10, Mr. Tallamy talks about "Blending in with the neighbors" and being known as the oddball in the neighborhood.

He has suggestions for yard plans, like on page 135 and lists of plants that will support lepidoptera species. I learned that oak trees can support up to 534 species, cherry trees up to 456 species and hickory as many as 200. Those are three trees we have in our small yard already as I'm sure many of you do.

This is really a worthwhile book to invest in...not to mention our future and the future of the birds we so love and enjoy.

 Our Black Swallowtail caterpillars have eaten their fill and wandered off to grow into butterflies!
Those two little "horns" on its head pop out when they aren't happy that you're taking their photo.

 An adult Black Swallowtail on thistle...which seems to plant itself. 
I like that. No holes to dig!

 This is a female Bumble Bee with a healthy collection of pollen for the kids.
We have plenty of echinacea or cone flower in our gardens.

 When you don't use herbicides or insecticides, you get plenty of sweet delicious clover for the bunnies to feast on.
Plus the clover keeps them away from other plants!
More bunnies will be here soon...

This is an Eight-spotted Forester moth, on milkweed with a red milkweed beetle hidden away in there as well.
We have quite a bit of milkweed in a number of varieties to keep the insects happy.

 The aroma of milkweed is fantastic. Our whole garden smells great in the morning and is a magnet for butterflies like this Great Spangled Fritillary.

 I found this Katydid hiding under a milkweed leaf.

 I also found this single Monarch butterfly egg under a milkweed leaf.
It pays to crawl around in your garden searching under everything. 
You never know what you'll find!

 Here's a Monarch butterfly and a caterpillar on the same plant.
Monarch populations are down drastically due to deforestation and the flagrant use of pesticides.

 Butterfly Weed lives up to its name!

 We also have plenty of Black-eyed Susan in the garden.
This Orange Sulphur likes it as much as The Doodles!

 Pearl Crescents even seem to fight over these!

 Red Admiral.
I don't see his ship anywhere...

 Summer Azures enjoy Queen Anne's Lace and Spring Azures lay their eggs on native Viburnums.
We have plenty of both.

 This Eastern Tiger Swallowtail kept me company during lunch this afternoon.
I wonder if he enjoyed the cone flower? as much as I enjoyed my hot dogs...

 Yep, he was happier...

We also have Joe Pye weed which the Spicebush Swallowtail likes, wild violets for the fritillaries, spicebush and more. Remember every caterpillar becomes a new butterfly, moth or food for a hungry bird! Please look into changing the habitat around you and get a little help from "Bringing Nature Home!"