Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Pictures

How do insects and flowers celebrate Mother's Day?  In my yard, the butterflies are laying eggs like gangbusters, the flowers are bursting with color and baby birds are everywhere.  I didn't take photos of the baby Mockingbirds, Grackles and Blue Jays, but they are in the yard.  Actually, they are "teenager" birds.  They can all fly, but they still trail their mothers crying continuously "feed me, feed me!" "I don't want to look for my own food!!" - just like human teenagers.  And you know what?  I don't blame them.  If I could be a child forever  - or at least have someone take care of me forever, I'd go for it.  I think.  Actually, God is my Father and He provides for me forever - however, He does require that I actually DO something, whereas baby birds and humans would like to have to do nothing and have all their needs met.

Anyway,  Happy Mother's Day - and here are today's photos:

A rare red dragonfly flew through my yard late this afternoon as I was watering before the sun went down.  I have Christmas lights draped over the bushes and attached to the trellis and at night it is lovely.

This fellow - blue and yellow - was beautiful.  I'm not sure why there are so many dragonflies in my yard - I thought they like swamps and watery places and my back yard isn't THAT wet, although we DO have a small pool and fountain.  I'm not complaining - as long as they want to come and visit, I'm happy.

Closeup on my little friend's "face" - doesn't it look like he/she has lipstick on and is smiling?  He/she also seems to have a small little button "nose", but I know that isn't what I see - it just looks anthropomorphic, just a bit.

Above are Cassia flowers.  The yellow butterflies LOVE this plant - it is their larval plant.  Yesterday I took some photos of the caterpillars on this plant.

Above are the flowers of the Dutchman's Pipe vine.  This vine is the larval plant for Polydamous Butterflies, which are a Swallowtail genus and have black or dark brown wings with a yellow border at the bottom.  Whoever labeled this plant "Dutchman's Pipe" was being very polite.  I think the unopened flowers look more like "Dutchman's Scrotum" - forgive the honesty.  The opened flowers, in the bottom picture, are very unique.

Above is a Polydamous caterpillar on a fallen Dutchman's Pipe flower.  Once they fall to the ground, the entire flower turns a dark indigo blue color, which leads me to wonder if they could be used for dye, although I can't find any mention of that on the internet.

Monarch sex.  I wonder if one of these is the female Monarch my husband and I watched emerge from her chrysallis this morning.  Hubby was just about to go in and get his camera - and the chrysallis began to split.  So we just watched instead - beautiful.  She didn't waste any time, evidently.

A couple more pictures of the beautiful red dragonfly perched on our Christmas lights.  What a treat!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Photo Day

Things are growing like crazy in our back yard.  It's that time of year again when we have to mow the yard once a week or get buried.   Our season went right from abnormally cool to rainy season and warmer than usual for May.  That's ok - the butterflies are laying eggs on our Cassia bush, which is also beginning to bloom it's tall yellow stalk flowers.  Last year we had no caterpillars on the Cassia.  This year, the Cloudless Sulphurs and other yellow butterflies are everywhere and so are their caterpillars.  Unfortunately, the Blue Jays seems to like those caterpillars.  Monarchs, since they eat milkweed, are poisonous or unpleasant to eat for most predators.  I guess Cloudless Sulphur caterpillars taste good.  I know some will survive.  So here are today's photos.  Although I mention the Cassia flowers, I did not specifically photograph them, but I did get some pics of the Cloudless Sulphur caterpillars.

As usual, click on the picture to get a bigger, more comprehensive view.

Above is a Cloudless Sulphur butterfly laying eggs on tender baby Cassia leaves.

Above are the caterpillars that result from the eggs of the Cloudless Sulphur.

I read on this web site that if the caterpillar eats the green leaves, it becomes green.  If it eats the yellow flowers, it becomes yellow.  I'll have to keep my eyes open for yellow caterpillars on the flowers. 

I have no idea what this tiny fellow is.  I noticed him crawling on my forearm and picked him up to photograph.  We have a lot of moths and mayflies - maybe this is a larva from one of those....

This is another picture of my tiny friend.

My Mimosa is blooming.  It was a very small plant last year and it has migrated in a ground cover sort of way.  It is very difficult to pick weeds from where the Mimosa is growing because it is all too easy to pick Mimosa instead of weed!  I have to be SO careful.  The resulting lavender fluffy bloom is beautiful.  Above is one small flower.  I see lots of buds coming, so there will be more flowers.

I thought this orangey red Hibiscus looked like it was lit up against the dark green foliage.  It is pretty, isn't it?

This female Grackle was heading for an unshelled peanut.  She already had a dead moth in her beak, but she dropped that for the peanut and then flew off.  She evidently prefers peanuts to moths.

These are Oleander caterpillars.  The Oleander moth is beautiful, but I don't have a photo of that today.  Can you believe I used to kill these things?  What a silly I was.  There aren't enough of them to seriously damage the Oleander which I've had for over 5 years and which blooms all the time, so I let them be now.  These fellows were on a Banana leaf and they seems to be hanging out (literally) in the underside shade of the leaf. 

Above is some sort of grain that has grown from bird seed.  It is beautiful and it looks a bit like wheat, except wheat is lots longer and yellow or gold in color.  Once this begins to fade, I'm cutting and drying it for display in dried arrangements.

And last, but not least, my attempt at manual photography.  I set my digital camera on full manual and played with the settings, trying to get the purple flower clear, but the water blurred.  I'm not sure I succeeded, but I like the picture anyway.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oil Spill

I'm sure everyone knows about the huge - and ongoing - oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It is not capped and it is not slowed, so the accumulating oil is heading through the natural water currents.  This means it not only will affect the Gulf of Mexico shorelines, but it will pass into the Atlantic Ocean and affect the entire Eastern Seaboard in some way.  This isn't a sure thing, but it is a likely thing.

There is a web site where you can keep up with the actual work that is being done as well as sign up to assist in some capacity. 

I will be registering for news updates from the web site, as well as finding a way to register to help out in any way I can.