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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Hi everyone! It’s Walter here. Last time I posted for Nature Friday I showed you some of our butterflies. Today it’s all about the bees!

7357 - Walter - as a Bee - lr

Let’s see what’s buzzing around the yard.

Our dad was taking pictures of the bees for us.

7335 - Millie Walter - Charlie photographing flowers - lr

Are you sure you have the right f-stop dad?
Millie, you have to be wearing bee camouflage to get this close!

That sister of mine almost scared away the bees!

Bumblebee on sedum 9-2-21 - lr

Bumblebee on Sedum

7338 - Walter - Charlie photographing flowers - lr

The bees feel safer now that Millie is gone.

Bumblebee on sedum2 9-2-21 - lr

Another Bumblebee on the Sedum

There still is quite a few flowers in bloom in our yard and the pollinators just love it.

Bumblebee on turtle head flower 9-2-21 - lr

Bumblebee on Turtle Head

Carpenter bee on caryopteris 9-2-21 - lr

Carpenter bee on Caryopteris

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

7373 - Walter - as a Bee - lr

Thanks for buzzing around the yard with me today.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the bees we have visiting our yard right now.

Join the Nature Friday Blog Hop

We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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Hi everyone! It’s Walter here. Last week Millie showed you all some of the snakes we have in our yard and today I want to show you some of the beautiful butterflies we have.

6813 - Walter laying in grass - lr

I love watching all the butterflies in our perennial garden.

Our perennial garden is a butterfly paradise. We have all shapes and sizes. First lets look at one of the smallest.

Silver spotted skipper on clematis flower 8-4-21 - lr

Silver Spotted Skipper on Clematis

The next largest is the cabbage butterfly. On any given day we can have at least a dozen of them flitting from one flower to the next.

Cabbage butterfly on lythrum 7-16-21 - lr

Cabbage Butterfly on Lythrum

The Painted Lady is slightly larger than the Cabbage butterfly and this one had some company while it worked on one of our cone flowers.

Painted lady and skiippers on coneflower 8-3-21 - lr

Painted Lady butterfly and Zabulon skippers on Pink Coneflower

Those skippers are actually smaller than the silver spotted skipper I showed you first. It was nice of the painted lady to share the coneflower with them.

Last but not least is our largest butterfly appropriately named the Giant Swallowtail.

Giant swallowtail on agastache 7-25-21 - lr

Giant Swallowtail on Agastache

The Giant Swallowtail looks very different on the top than it does on the underside. You get a good look at what the top side looks like in the above picture. The back lighting lets the top kind of shine through. They are mostly black with lines of yellow on top while the underside has a yellow background with a multicolored pattern like you see in the picture below.

Giant swallowtail on clematis 8-19-21 - lr

Giant Swallowtail on Clematis

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the butterflies we have visiting our yard this year. Next week we might show you some different ones so stay tuned.

Join the Nature Friday Blog Hop

We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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Hi everyone! It’s Millie here. Today I want to introduce you to some of our slithering friends around our yard.

Millie on the patio 7-19-21 - lr

My best imitation of a snake

It’s been too hot to spend much time outside lately but we enjoy watching our garter snake friends when we can. I like to try to sniff them but mom always calls me off before they can strike at my nose. Don’t worry they are basically harmless and probably wouldn’t even connect if they tried to strike me.

6686 - 2 Snakes on ground - lr

A couple of different colored garter snakes.

We’re lucky to live in an area where there are no poisonous snakes.

6691 - Colorful Snake on ground - lr

This snake has beautiful markings

Our snakes spend the night under the upper (raised) portion of our patio. In the morning they make there way out. Sometimes we can see them just sticking their heads out of a crack under the steps.

6743 - Snake coming out at down spout - lr

This snake always comes out near the down spout.

The same snake that you see above always comes out near the down spout and makes its way across the lower patio to some vegetation to hang out for the day. Here is a video that shows the snake making its way.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

6752 - Snake moving under door - lr

Always watch your step going in our out of the garage.

Here is a wide view of the snake’s path.

7271 - Patio where snake moves from drain - annotated

(Click on the image to make it bigger)

Occasionally the snake will hang out under the bench in the above picture.

Backyard garter snake 7-16-21 - lr

All curled up under the bench

Backyard garter snake 7-19-21 - lr

Maybe I should save this picture for Selfie Sunday.

These snakes do a great job of keeping small pests away from the house. They like to eat slugs which is great for the hosta on the patio. I hope you enjoyed seeing some of our snakes today.

Join the Nature Friday Blog Hop

We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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Hi everyone! It’s Millie & Walter here. We’re joining a special Nature Friday and helping Marg celebrate her birthday. Marg is a special Blogville friend who helps lots of kitties. We are going to show you some of our early spring flowers.

6260 - Millie - portrait on stump - lr

Let’s see what’s blooming in our yard.

We have two different color of witch hazel bushes in our yard. Since this is the first thing that blooms in our yard the insects flock to it for nutrition.

6157 - Honeybee on witch hazel - lr

A honey bee works on the yellow witch hazel.

 

6249 - Fly on Witch Hazel - lr

Even the flies were working the witch hazel.

Here is a little video of the bees and flies enjoying the witch hazel.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

There is also an orange version of witch hazel.

6208 - Orange witch hazel - lr

Orange witch hazel

The only other flower we have blooming right now are our Chionodoxa bulbs.

Blue Chionodoxa 4-6-21a - lr

Blue Chionodoxa

 

White Chionodoxa 4-6-21 - lr

White Chionodoxa

These little flowers are all around a little mound at the back of the yard where we had to cut down an ash tree.

Walter 3-21-21 - lr

The ash tree stump is where we did our modeling for these pictures.

 

Blue Chionodoxa 4-6-21b - lr

Blue Chionodoxa

We hope Marg and all of our visitors enjoyed seeing some of the flowers we are lucky to have blooming so far. If you want to add your birthday wishes to Marg you can pop over to the Zoolatry blog and leave your comments there. As usual we’re way behind many of our friends in the flowers that are blooming in our yard but there are some daffodils that are springing up out of the ground and may be blooming soon.

BlogHop FlowersForMarg

We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. Lately my Nature Friday posts have been all about the birds and this weeks is no exception. Don’t worry, Millie and Walter are doing well and will be back soon.

Charlie has been working hard in his wood shop this winter to get some new feeders ready for the return of our feathered friends this spring. The first thing he did was work on a new suet feeder.

Tufted Titmouse clings to the side of the old suet feeder

The previous suet feeder, seen above, was just a suet cage attached to a piece of wood and hung from a crook. The feeder was getting old and cracked and needed an upgrade. One thing we wanted to do was cut down on some of the “bully” birds that were able to access this feeder. The new suet feeder now has four sides so only birds that can cling to the bottom such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, tufted titmice and chickadees can use it. Other birds like starlings and grackles aren’t able to hang upside down and won’t be able to use it.

Upside down suet feeder

Since the crook was still in the ground we were able to hang this feeder right away. At first the birds seemed a bit hesitant to use it even though it’s in the same place as the previous one was but after a few days the realized that it contained the same suet they all love. The good thing is that the birds that can’t hang upside down, like cardinals and sparrows,  still get to benefit by hanging out under the feeder to pick up whatever is dropped.

A trio of new feeders – (left to right)
Platform Mealworm Feeder, Double Suet Feeder, Gilbertson Style Mealworm Feeder

Charlie also made a double sized suet feeder. You can see it in the middle above.

Underneath the double suet feeder

This feeder holds two suet cakes at a time and also has sides to prevent the non-clinging birds from being able to use it. The hope is that we will finally be able to attract a Pileated Woodpecker to our feeder. We have seen pileated woodpeckers around our yard but they are too big to use the smaller feeder.

Chickadee on Mealworm Feeder

The other two feeders that Charlie made are mealworm feeders. Our old platform mealworm feeder (above) was about 10 years old and needed to be replaced. The main difference with the new feeder is that now it will be attached to a 1¼” conduit with a strap instead of the wooden bracket you see on the old feeder.

Bottom of Platform Mealworm Feeder

The holes you see are for drainage and don’t really allow the mealworms to fall out. That happens well enough when a blue jay lands in it an starts flinging the mealworms around.

The other mealworm feeder Charlie made is a Gilbertson Style Mealworm Feeder.

Gilbertson Style Mealworm Feeder

Charlie’s version doesn’t follow the plan exactly. His is slightly larger with smaller posts in the corners to allow more room in the interior areas and he uses the same mounting method as the platform feeder above. As you can see this feeder has a cup inside where the mealworms will be placed. It also has metal rods running between the posts on all four sides. This prevents larger birds like starlings, mockingbirds, robins and blue jays from entering while allowing the smaller bluebirds, wrens, chickadees and tufted titmouse access.

How to access feed cup

In order to access the cup for refilling you are able to remove one of the metal rods. On the right, in the first picture of this feeder, you can see that one of the metal rods is bent with a small stop block keeping it in place. When it’s time to refill the feeder you just unlatch the rod and slide it out so you can reach in to remove the cup, which in this case is just a ½ cup measure with the handle cut off.

Once the ground thaws out (in a couple of months) we will be able to put up a new crook for the double suet feeder and put the conduit in the ground and mount our new mealworm feeders to them. The mealworm feeders will also be fitted with squirrel baffles to keep those pesky chipmunks and squirrels from pigging out on mealworms. In case you were wondering we feed dried mealworms which I buy in bulk from Critter Boutique. That is not an affiliate link. I am providing it since I think they have the best price for bulk dried mealworms in case you want to try using them. The suet feeders don’t need squirrel baffles since I only feed C & S Hot Pepper Delight Suet cakes. The birds don’t mind the hot pepper but the squirrels and chipmunks sure don’t like it and never try it twice.

Join the Nature Friday Blog Hop

We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. About a month ago I showed you pictures of some ducks at Webster Park. Since then the weather has turned much colder and snowier and there isn’t much open water to see any more.

Webster Park Pier in Black & White

To see how different the pier looked in December you can scroll down to the last picture in this post. All the white to the left in that picture is the frozen lake but on the right the water is still fairly open.

Webster Park Jetty

This moon scape looking scene is actually a jetty where the rocks are and in warmer weather is open water where you see those small humps. Here is what the jetty looks like in warmer times although the pictures aren’t taken from quite the same angle.

Webster Park Jetty in October 2020

It’s been fun seeing how this little park area has changed as the temps have dropped. There may be more views of the lake as it fills more with solid ice to come.

We’re joining Comedy Plus for their Wordless Wednesday blog hop.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. A couple of weeks ago I showed you some pictures of the birds that were feeding on common buckthorn berries in our yard. I’ve finally processed the videos I took and wanted to show you just how much action there was.

American Robins & European Starlings in Common Buckthorn

The Common Buckthorn species is naturalized and invasive in parts of North America. We didn’t realize this tree was growing in our garden for a few years because its form and leaves are very similar to the Miss Kim lilacs that it’s growing near. When it finally grew taller we could see that it was an introduced tree. Charlie did some research to figure out just what it was.

The birds gobbled up the plentiful berries.

According to Wikipedia:

The seeds and leaves are mildly poisonous for humans and most other animals, but are readily eaten by birds, who disperse the seeds in their droppings. The toxins cause stomach cramps and laxative effects that may function in seed dispersal.

We would like to remove this tree but it’s behind a few shrubs that make it difficult to get to. This tree was full of berries before this flock descended on it. Here is a video of some of the action.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

As you could see by the end of the video there were very few berries left on the tree and ultimately there were no berries left.

There are very few berries left at this point.

It is very rare to see so many American Robins in January but some are more hardy and stick around all winter although we’ve never see a flock this large before. It was a treat to get to see all the different colorings from the very dark orange to the paler looking ones. I hope you enjoyed seeing them too.

Join the Nature Friday Blog Hop

We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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Hi everyone. It’s Millie and Walter here. We finally got a decent amount of snow and were able to enjoy some time playing in the yard. The temperature wasn’t too cold so that it, plus wind chill, wasn’t so bad either. In our opinion it was close to perfect winter weather.

I love getting snow on my face.

We had fun chasing each other and sniffing under the snow for critters. 

What’s Millie doing over there?

We hope you all had a fun day and were able to get out a bit and explore in the cold or warmth of wherever you live.

We’re joining The Cat on My Head for their Selfie Sunday blog hop. You should check out the hop to see some of the other selfies. Thanks for stopping by.

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