The Texas Stars Are Big and Bright

The Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) growing outside my kitchen window, looked so gorgeous, I interrupted my dinner to take a photo.

The big red flowers were glowing brightly as the sun got lower.  I’m afraid the photo does not quite reflect what my eyes were seeing.

Nonetheless, the Texas Stars made a pretty picture.


Possible Suspect in “Bed” Case

I glanced out of the window and saw one of my plants jiggling.  While I was trying to figure out why, this Red-eared Slider came out of the bed.  I grabbed my camera and headed outside.  I assumed the turtle was away from water to lay some eggs.  I inspected my flower bed and found the African Hosta, Drimiopsis maculata, in this bed was flatten also.  Did I solve the mystery of my previous blog “Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed?”

After the photo shoot, the turtle headed back into the flower bed.  Female Red-eared Sliders will travel long distances over land to lay their eggs. I would guess this one is from the lake not too far from my house.  She had to cross the street to get here.

The female turtle will search for a suitable place to lay 2 to 17 eggs.  This may explain why I am finding plants that are flattened, but not eaten.

Red-eared Sliders can lay 5 clutches in a year.  The eggs incubate in 2 to 3 months. One problem with incubation is that raccoons like to eat the eggs.

After the turtles hatch, the babies must find their own way to water.  A few years ago, I found this one heading down my driveway to the lake.

With gloved hands I caught  the little turtle and took it across the street to the woods near the lake.  Hopefully, this year I will find some more hatchlings.

 


Camellias Still Blooming

My camellias have been having an outstanding year.  They have been blooming since the end of January.  I am so thrilled, I just had to take more pictures of them. The Red Velvet has more flowers than ever.  I think it helped that deer didn’t eat the shrub this year.

White by the Gate has had very little discoloration from fungus despite the rains this year.

I do not know what is different this year, but the Camellias have given me months of pleasure.  Professor Sargent has a few more buds to open.


Birds and Sugar

My Sugar Bird is back.  This little bird is crazy for sugar and I do believe it is the same bird that has visited in previous years.

As it turns out, I identify this bird differently every year.  This year I’m going to say it is an Orange-crowned Warbler.  I can look at those bird pictures all day and not quite tell what this cutie is.

I was really surprised to see that a Chickadee had been observing Sugar Bird and decided to see what was so delicious.

When Chickadees feed, they go to the feeder and take a seed to a tree to eat.  They are very quick.

I have the sugar feeder set up outside my kitchen window, so I can be entertained while I eat.  I also took all the photos from my table, through the window that is about five feet away.

It took me weeks to get a shot of the fast moving Chickadee and I was thrilled when I got these four during one visit…and in focus.

 

 

 


Autumn’s Confederate Rose

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Every Autumn I look forward to my Confederate Rose blooming. It is actually a Hibiscus mutabilis that is originally from China. A cutting can easily be started and that is why it has been a great passalong plant in the South. It is a gangly small tree that is unattractive most of the year, until the big payoff in the Fall.  This has been a particularly good year and every bud has opened.  Each cluster has 5 to 7 buds providing a spectacular display which has been going on for 3 weeks with more to come.

The flowers open pure white in the morning.

In the afternoon, they begin turning pink.

Evening brings a dark rose color to the flowers.

By the end of the day, the Confederate Rose has turned to the colors of a rosy sunset.

 


Hummingbird Competition

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Unbelievably, the gang of Hummingbirds are still visiting my feeders.  I have never had this many Hummers for this amount of time.  At times, there are up to twelve birds fighting for the sugar water.  I’ve been spending my days observing the tiny birds and was watching them from my kitchen window, when an interesting scenario began playing out.  I grabbed my camera and started shooting through the window.

It was early in the evening when the feeding frenzy really ramps up and a new visitor appeared.  The reddish brown creature is a Hummingbird Moth, which many mistake as a baby hummingbird. I had an entomologist identify one before and its proper name is Mournful Sphinx Moth (Enyo lugbris).  

At first the moth couldn’t quite figure out how the feeder worked.

Before long it found the feeder’s hole.  Needless to say, the Hummingbird was not happy and it actually poked the moth.  The little Hummingbird Moth was not bothered and fed until it was full.

I took a chance, went outside and managed to get a photo before the moth took off to work on the flowers.

Click on the photo and scroll down to click on full size for a better look.


Hummers Part II

A new day and the feeding frenzy has escalated.  Seven or more hummingbirds have descended on the garden.  Another hummer has claimed the second feeder leaving the others to fight for it.

I was watching from a window and saw the hummingbirds acting differently and went out to see what was going on.  It turns out that hummers aren’t the only ones interested in the sugar water.  A green anole was blocking their access.

And the birds were not happy.

The anole eventually climbed up on the stand and encroached on the hummingbird’s perch.  The bird tried going after the lizard with its needle-like bill.

The anole was steadfast.

The hummingbird was not amused.

The hummer sat on its perch for a few minutes trying not to look at the lizard, while the anole may have been wondering if it could swallow the little bird.

In the end, the anole outlasted the hummers who finally met their match.