Thursday, August 25, 2016

Oops! Disturbing toads at home

These four toads were under an overturned plastic table holding bits of concrete.
Toads1 Toads! Toads!

I uncovered some toad hideouts while cleaning a space behind the garage where the previous homeowner built a lean-to for firewood.

For us, the tin-roof shelter has become a catch-all for yard junk. However it seems the mess has become a hangout for the croakers we hearing calling at night.

The area is toad-ally hopping.

There were three toads sharing that slot. A tiny frog hopped out of the other slot before I could snap a pic.
I'm  not sure what I did to disturb this one.
This one took a look at me when I pulled weeds too close to home.
As a peace offering, I buried pieces of a broken pot to replace the concrete blocks.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Snakes in the pond

A long, fat ribbon snake watches me. This one was bigger than the ones I usually see.
After a couple of days of rain cooled the August temperatures, lots of critters are emerging from the crevices.

These two snakes were on opposite sides of the small pond at Sheldon Lake with the alligator statue that warns visitors about gators.

A broad-banded water snake peeks out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

When it rains, you get a seed day indoors

Break open the Erect Baptisia (Baptisia sphaerocarpa) pods to find the seeds.
 When it is too rainy to go outdoors, volunteers at Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center clean seeds. A no-sweat workday.

Sometimes you need a hammer to get the seed pods open.
A bucket of seed pods will be reduced to about two cups of seeds.
If you sneeze while separating the Splitbeard Bluestem seed heads, all your work will fly away.
Seed work gives you time to chat. We managed to stay away from the topic of politics.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Butterflies don't need beer bottle caps

Beer of choice for litterers who toss the caps into plant beds at the butterfly garden for city workers and volunteers to pick up. Boo. Hiss.

I found all of these in a single milkweed bed I was cleaning.

On the plus side, I found only one plastic bottle this time. By the way, there is a trash can 10 feet away.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Water testing at Bayland Park

A quiet, still morning.
This is my water testing site.

Last fall someone gave up the site at Bayland Park, so I took it over this spring after going through a Galveston Bay Foundation training class.

This month the water was very calm and the salinity was up.  I'll know better after going through a year of testing, but I'm guessing this is normal for August.

A kayak and four boats launched during the couple of hours I was there. A man and a boy were casting a net from the bank on the other side.

In the past a nosy pelican was hanging around the boat launch, and a skinny cat would come toward the tables looking for a handout. But this time I only saw a few shorebirds gliding past plus the usual grackles patrolling the picnic shelter.

It was a nice, quiet morning if you could ignore the highway traffic.

Reading the hydrometer is always a challenge for me.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Gulf Fritillary finds a mate


When I checked on a Gulf Fritillary chrysalis, I was surprised to find two Frits near the open chrysalis.

I guess the butterfly emerged and immediately found a mate.  I'm glad they consider my fence a safe place to start a family.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Caterpillar settles in for transformation

Frit face
This morning I happened to spot a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar beginning its J-turn to become a chrysalis. I hope it survives to become a butterfly.

This caterpillar decided to stay on fence with the passion vine it had been eating.
I went inside to give the dog a bath and came back to find this. Wow, that happened quicker than I expected.
Here's another caterpillar still eating.