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

Friday, August 22, 2014

Walking Stick!

Oh...and I saw a walking stick, Diapheromera femorata, (After a quick internet search, I think that is right).  ~smile~

If it were not on the window screen by the deck, and I didn't happen by, I would probably never spot one of these.  Aside from my dad showing us one when I was a kid, the only other time I saw one was here by the front door standing out against the white of the house--before we bought the place, I think...or shortly thereafter.  I took it as a good sign...not that I believe in omens. :)

I'm thrilled to see one again (although, nothing I did attracted it...since they were around before I improved the habitat--although, I'm thrilled to be surrounded by a countryside that supports enough wildlife that it makes it to our yard).  After some research, it seems they prefer the foliage of oaks and hazelnuts.  We have one oak in the yard that was here when we moved in, I'm guessing it could be 20 years old or so, not sure.  Since then, I've added more oaks...and I added hazelnut shrubs early on (although, at the time, I was just thinking about the nuts providing a food source, not realizing that they would be supporting various insect life as well).

Below, is a link to walking sticks in general (world-wide species, not the Northern walking stick that I believe I have.  Still, some interesting facts:

Who knew! http://www.nwf.org/wildlife/wildlife-library/invertebrates/walking-sticks.aspx (interesting information about walking stick species)

It's Happening!

Although since I started my restoration project I've had many encounters with wildlife, lately I seem to be saying to myself, "It's happening!"  A couple of weeks ago, I was walking the paths of my field (and future wildflower meadow)...and although I still have mugwort and crownvetch invading areas, while walking the upper section, it seemed that it was predominantly natives--though mostly various goldenrod species that have filled in on their own.  I know I have a long way to go, but being able to walk most paths and not be bored by monocultures of non-natives is a huge step forward.  It is starting to happen.

I know I've been quiet.  I can't quite explain it.  However, I have been doing things to improve the property, and I've witnessed a fair share of wildlife.  Each time, I think I'll post, but never seem to get around to it.   What shocked me the most was that I didn't post yesterday about the "walking stick" insect I spotted (on the screen of a window outside).  I think too many photos are taken on my new smart phone, and I've yet to figure out how to access them on the computer without e-mailing them to myself.

So, what prompted this post?  This morning, I overslept.  Well, I had no obligations/appointments, so I guess I just slept in--until almost 10:00!  I guess I really needed it, as I doubt I got 8 hours of sleep more than a half-dozen times all summer!  (I go back to school--work--in a couple of days.)  I'm glad I did (oversleep).

I'd left the window open all night, and had a fan running, but I could still hear birds outside the window this morning--a resident catbird, but, when I went to shut the window, I saw three unusual looking, gawky birds.  It didn't take me long to figure out that they were fledglings--well, juveniles really.  But, what kind?  My first thought was juvenile Baltimore orioles--since I know they nested here this spring.  The second thought, after seeing the pictures, was rose-breasted grosbeaks.  That is what I think they are, but please correct me if I've misidentified them.

Keep in mind, the photos were taken through two double-paned windows.

(I just have to add, I used a feature of my smart phone that allows me to use its voice-recognition Google search--I said clearly, "Images of juvenile rose breasted--" then got tongue-tied, and made some guttural sounds.  To my surprise, it pulled up "rose breasted grosbeak".  I've had a "dumb phone", as Jeff calls them, for years...so the smart phone is still new and amazing to me.)

Oh...I almost forgot:  just a short distance away, where I'd added another nesting box, I spotted this squirrel!  Normally, I only see them in the winter when they are attracted to the sunflower seed, I put out.

I love the idea that, where ever I look, I spot wildlife, nature in action, and my beloved native plants in their various seasons of beauty.  It really feels like it is happening!