Winter Wonderland

We had snow!  And why not in this crazy year of weather.  As we found out, records are meant to be broken.

The snow fell in the early morning hours.  As soon as the sun comes up, it will be gone.  Parents pulled children from their beds to play outside in the predawn darkness.

I was in my PJ’s snapping these photos in the dark when I heard the Banded Owl hooting from various locations in the yard.  The owl was probably baffled by the snow. It’s beginning to feel like Christmas, let it snow…until it hits 48 degrees this afternoon.  A true Texas day.


Monarch Lunch

I collected these Monarch caterpillars, but not for my lunch.  I found them on some sick looking Butterfly Weed with few leaves and moved them to healthier plants so the babies could have their lunch.

This big and beautiful Monarch is probably from a previous batch of caterpillars I found a few weeks ago.


Rosy Wolf Snail Entertainment

During my daily plant watering, this Rosy Wolf Snail, Euglanding rosea, crawled out onto the sidewalk.

The Snail was on a mission and ignored me.  Ants were crawling right by it, but that was not what the Rosy Wolf was hunting. This rather large snail eats smaller ones and was looking for slime trails.

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I love to watch these creatures crawl around, as I usually only find them curled up in their shells.  I put a Coleus leaf beside the snail and the leaf caught its attention.  The snail crawled over to check it out and left a silvery slime trail behind on the leaf.  After being thoroughly entertained by the Rosy Wolf, I moved it to a garden bed to keep it safe and hopefully it will eat some of those pesky plant eating snails.


Second Spring in the Garden

I came across this baby Copperhead that seems to be going through a difficult molt. This photo was taken in the morning.

I checked on the snake late in afternoon and it was still on the same rock.  Its tail is in a new position, so I knew it was alive.  No, I did not poke it to check.  Molting or the preferred description, shedding or the scientific word ecdysis, seems to be hard work.  I did some research and it said a snake in captivity can be helped by its owner.  With a Copperhead, I decided to let nature take its course.  It seems late in the year for babies, but…

there are lots of baby lizards, anoles and geckos, around.  This green anole greets me every morning from its home on a potted plant by my door.

The garden has been full of these yellow Cloudless Sulphur butterflies.  There were at least 7 flying around. They were not very interested in posing for photos, so this is the best shot I was able to get.

Quite a few Gulf Fritillary butterflies have been visiting. They had been gone from the garden for a few years and just started coming back last Fall. The Bottle Brush decided to put out a few flowers attracting the butterflies and bees.

My Japanese Anemone has been struggling all year, but has finally bloomed.

My Confederate Rose is still blooming and giving me joy every day.  With the cooler weather, it is skipping the light pink color and going directly to dark rose.  Here in the Gulf Coast area, this time of year is often called our second Spring and it certainly seems that way with baby animals and newly blooming flowers.

 


Tiny Snake

An Earth Snake appeared in the garden again.  This tiny creature is mostly nocturnal and helps out by eating snails and bugs.

The Earth Snake only grows 7 to 10 inches in length and is as skinny as a pencil.  I photographed this little cutie beside a Coleus leaf.


The Hunter and the Hunted

This big wasp has been hanging around the garden.  It is a Cicada Killer Wasp.  As its name implies, it hunts and eats Cicadas.

Within a day, I spotted this Cicada and so far the Killer Wasp did not find it.

This large bug has a face that only its mother could love, but not scary enough to keep from being hunted by the Killer Wasp.


Mine

Mine, mine, mine!  The Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are making a migration stop in the Automatic Garden.

It has been pandemonium or hummermonium around the feeders.  Some clever little birds decided to guard the feeders and chase the others away.

Dueling Hummers sit opposite each other fiercely defending the food source. The fights have been brutal, including wrestling each other to the ground. The hits are loud and are accompanied  with Hummingbird screams.

I have located 4 feeders in the yard and the Automatic Garden came through the storm rather well with flowers continuing to bloom.

From the perch on the back porch, this Hummer can survey all the feeders.  The bird was so absorbed with keeping an eye on the others, it never noticed me standing 12 inches away.  (This photo was later taken through a window.)

I know the Hummingbirds need to head south, but I am hoping they will stay for awhile.