Just the back yard!? Nah, I want the front and side yards landscaped in natives too.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Little Guy Seems Confused

I found the smaller of the three caterpillars on a blade of grass...that seemed very odd to me that it would leave the host plant--perhaps it fell and was climbing back up. I moved the little guy to a young, tender shoot and will check on him again.

The other two are plugging away and plumping up. :) ...and looking good.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Better Late than Never

For at least a month, I've been searching for monarch caterpillars on all of my milkweeds, but mostly on the blooming butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). I've been disappointed and a bit disillusioned. Last year, I had two monarch larvae--my first ever--and I was thrilled. It was a let down this year...at first I thought I'd lost one or two of the butterfly weeds (luckily they all came up even though one was almost a month late)...then, no caterpillars--until now!

Today, I went out walking the yard, and stopped at the milkweed (the one I'd thought I'd lost...and the one that supported the two caterpillars last year). I was surpised and thrilled to see a rather large monarch larvae--probably 4th or 5th instar (but I'm still learning so I might be wrong). I hadn't seen a single egg nor any tiny caterpilars...however, as I was taking a picture of the one I'd found, I noticed the head of a second one munching the tip of another leaf, but nearly hidden from view as it was on the underside of the leaf.

Here's hoping I find the chrysalis before it ecloses...as last year I only found the empty "skin". Whether I find them or not I'm just happy to know that the monarchs are finding them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Today after all of that work, I went out to walk the property (as I so often do). There was quite a lot of activity as I saw birds flying around. There were at least four up on the wire--I think I spotted five at one time. I thought they were bluebirds and possibly the fledglings...the photos confirmed it. :)

I'm thrilled to know that the young bluebirds are still around and growing up...though they still seem to need Mom and Dad around. I get the impression that their parents are mentoring them. :)

Another thing made me feel really good. They seemed very accepting of me being in the yard. One perched on the white pine I put in 3 years ago and stayed there as I took several pictures. I'd like to believe that they know I help make their nesting successful--aside from creating habitat for them, I make sure there is a clean, empty nest box so they can have more than one brood each year.

Dad is looking a little bedraggled...having adolescents will do that to you, I guess. :)


I feel like I hit pay dirt--well mulch anyway. The road crew was out cutting overhanging branches along the road the other day. I stopped and asked them to leave some branches for me...I plan to add to my brush piles...or start a new one. I also am saving some more attractive branches to use as perches for the birds come bird feeding time.

Today they were working on the other side of the road, so I asked if they could dump the chipped branches in the yard. There are some wood chips, but also a lot of leaves and thin branches. I'm thrilled to have this and have already made a big dent in the pile.

I'm using this to smother some invasives and to build up a rich woodsy soil as the thick layers I've put down decay.

I still feel like I made quite a dent in the pile, but comparing the two, it doesn't look like I did that much. I felt like a kid again hauling and laying mulch (I did a lot of that at my parents house...using the wood chips for paths and shredded bark around the landscaping. Eventually there was a thick layer of deep rich soil.) So, it brought back memories...and I felt like a kid again...until I came in and started feeling pretty sore! Oh well, it still feels GOOD!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bluebird Update

I took this picture last week, but never got around to posting it. It is not the best (I've been using my cell phone to take the pictures inside the nest) box).

I was away during the day for two days this weekend, and never noticed any activity near the nest box. However, yesterday, I checked in and found an empty nest.

I always seem to miss the fledging--apparently this time was no different. Well, that is not quite true, I seem to finally have some evidence of the fledglings! As I so often do when I spot bird activity in the trees that I can't make out with the naked eye, I snap some pictures, and then upload them to get a better view.

The pictures aren't great, but it seems to me, after cropping and a little bit of adjustments, I'd say that is definitely a bluebird fledgling! ~smile~

At Long Last!

After attracting quite a variety of butterflies last year, I was disappointed this year when so few have appeared. I was especially looking forward to seeing monarchs...and watching for their caterpillars.

Looking back at the blog posts from last year, I realize that they didn't show up until August, so maybe they are right on schedule. Whatever, I'm just happy to see even one showing up!

...although, I just checked back and see that the caterpillars were already developing this time last year.