Category Archives: Nature

Devil’s Cigar is Not Edible

I feel compelled to insert a short post about the rare Devil’s Cigar. A number of search engine users continue asking if this mushroom is edible.I have researched high and low and I have not found any information written that this mushroom is edible.

My answer is no, it is not edible. Never ever harvest any kind of mushroom. Purchase your mushrooms from a grocery store. They are not unduly expensive. Several individuals die each year from eating poisonous mushrooms. Don’t become a statistic!

A wild thing should be left untouched in the wild and left to grow and complete its life cycle. That plant or fungi is growing there because it is symbiotic with the other things growing there and serves the purpose of completing that particular habitat. Species rely on each other to maintain health, vigor and, productivity.

Many plants and other forms of natives have been lost to people making money from selling rare or endangered species. Is this unfair to the rest of us who would like to see things growing in the wild? But more importantly once any species of flora or fauna is lost it can not be replicated in any form or fashion. And how are we to know that these things might have been used to cure a disease or help mankind in ways one would never have believed?

Scientists from around the world are actively searching rain forests, tundra, desert, mountains, and the ocean seeking specimens to bring back for laboratory studies. Currently humans are already benefiting from medications that were made from native plants.

There is one exception to the rule. ONLY IF YOU KNOW for certain that an area is going to be destroyed and lost to a construction site- then remove with advice, from someone involved in conservation who can advise you on how to competently dig a specimen.

One last thought. I appreciate all the folks that are viewing my blog. Thank you so much.

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Wild Animals That Trust Their Human Friends

I saw this video on You Tube and I was fascinated while viewing. I am not posting this as a promotion for people to go out and obtain a wild animal to keep as a pet. The animals in the video are in very special circumstances either in a zoo or running free in a wildlife preserve.

It remains a sad state of affairs where people are still getting their hands on exotic reptiles and other animals right here in the US. Why this is happening, I don’t know but it needs to stop.

Here in the US, there are strict laws in almost every state that protect our native birds and wildlife from being kept in captivity. The wily coyote even though it has become a bane can only be kept as a pet in maybe 2-3 states. No species of bird/wildlife is allowed in captivity except in a certified zoo or under the care of rehabber or rehab rescue/center.

Hunting preserves in Texas and other states are another matter as far as I am concerned and canned hunts using exotic deer, etc goes against my grain. But that is for another discussion or post. There are many pros and cons and I am not up to climbing on my soap box. πŸ™‚

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For St. Patrick’s Day: An Irish Prayer

The Irish prayer is below these two photos.

Lots of wildlife on this ranch that includes deer, wild hogs, turkey, racoon,possum, fox, rabbit, squirrel, several species of snakes. There are many species of birds and too many to name here. My son hunts on this property and the ranch lady gave me a tour of her spread. I don't advocate hunting but my husband was a dyed in the wool waterfowl hunter. Hunting was instilled in our son at a young age. I'm trying to convert him to hunt with a camera.This past year he went to the ranch to sit and think and to watch the wildlife.

Lots of wildlife on this ranch that includes deer, wild hogs, turkey, racoon, possum, fox, rabbit, squirrel, coyote and, bobcat. There are many species of birds and too many to name here. My son hunts on this property and the ranch lady gave me a tour of her spread. I don’t advocate hunting but my husband was a dyed in the wool waterfowl hunter. Hunting was instilled in our son at a young age. I’m, trying to convert him to hunt with a camera. This past year he went to the ranch to sit and to think and to watch the wildlife.

Mexican plum that I transplanted as a sapling from the woods beside my property before 25 acres or so were "planted" with apartments. "They" removed every cotton picking tree . It was a sad time for me and I cried as the bulldozers wrecked havoc. But now I have several large plum trees and many saplings.The trees provide a nectar source for bees and early butterflies if the weather is warm. Mexican plum that I transplanted as a sapling from the woods beside my property before 25 acres or so were “planted” with apartments. “They” removed every cotton picking tree . It was a sad time for me and I cried as the bulldozers wrecked havoc. But now I have several large plum trees and many saplings.The trees provide a nectar source for bees and early butterflies if the weather is warm.

A change of pace. In honor or St Patrick’s Day this is a poem that I found. I could not find an author to credit for these very wise words of advice.

My husband was of Irish and English decent. I reckon Daniel is after all a pretty good Irish name.

For “greenery” I’m putting forth a “very green” photo of a McLennan county ranch creek. This photo is from late summer of 2012.

An Irish Prayer (author unknown)

Take time to work,

It is the price of success,

Take time to think,

It is the source of power.

Take time to play,

It is the secret of perpetual youth.

Take time to read,

It is the foundation of wisdom.

Take time to be friendly,

It is the road to happiness.

Take time to love and be loved,

It is the privilege of the gods.

Take time to share,

Life is too short to be selfish.

Take time to laugh,

Laughter is the music of the soul.

Author unknown

Rare Mushroom In My Yard: Devil’s Cigar, Texas Star (Chorioactis geaster)

Chorioactis geaster AKA Devil's cigar, orTexas star. Photographed 12/25/2013

Chorioactis geaster AKA Devil’s cigar, orTexas star. Photographed 12/25/2013

Last night I began editing 170 photos, plus. I came across several pics of the mushroom and then I looked in Google to find the name. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that “my mushroom” is a rarity. Literature says it springs forth near the base of a stump or dead roots of the Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifoli). I don’t remember when that tree was felled. There are other Cedar Elms that are alive and thriving in my yard.

Chorioactis geaster is called Devil’s cigar and also Texas star. It emerges from the soil in the shape of a dark cigar and then bursts open to reveal a rather unusual and pretty mushroom. It is found in one other country. In Japan the mushrooms appear on exposed trunks or branches of a dead oak. Deforestation in Japan has caused this mushroom to be considered a rarity and has been placed on the endangered species list.

This mushroom is referred to as saprotrophic which means it absorbs and metabolizes on a molecular scale for its nutrition. According to literature it’s found in very moist areas. The one in my yard is near the goat’s pen. His water bucket often overflows because I am a lame brain and have my eyes scanning the bushes and trees for birds and in the warm months looking toward the butterfly garden. I’ve left the hose running for hours and a few times over night. I tend to become absorbed in other attractions and then forget to turn off the hydrant.

Texas stars appear only during fall and winter but sometimes as late as April. I found this one on Christmas Day after walking back to the house after I had fed Billy Bob, my goat. The mushroom had emerged from the moist soil near a very intact old stump. At the time I had no idea this one species is rare and found only in several counties of central and northeastern Texas. McLennan county, where I live, is not listed as one of the counties where it has been seen. So maybe this is a first recorded sighting. I have no idea if my photo record would be accepted by the science community. Experts are very particular in what they consider as an accepted record.

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An Unknown Bird. Poor Photos. Just Need an ID

Please ignore the multiple postings of this bird. There is a glitch in the hitch of my blog. I have labored over a Monarch butterfly post off and on for weeks and those photos have doubled and tripled as well. I have deleted and begun anew until I am sick of it all with the Monarchs. So these birds will just stay. I have no idea what to do about the glitch. Maybe it will go away. Or maybe it is what it is- whatever that might be. πŸ™‚

I am going to blame my posting of these dreadful bird photos on Andrew Hardacre who suggested this post. πŸ™‚ http://ajh57.wordpress.com/

I took these photos in September through a window screen. I was desperate to get some photos of this bird since I knew not what he/she might be. So I did what any self-respecting bird and nature fanatic would do. Just shoot through the window screen and hope the ID field marks are good enough to identify the bird.I have looked in Sir Google and all my field guides and I just am not smart enough to figure this one out. I’ve been away from birding for about 20 years. Actual in the field birding, so I am “out of tune” and off-key by more than I care to admit.

If anyone “knows” this bird, leave a comment and I hope my face does not acquire too much red. πŸ™‚

I’ve searched and researched and the best that I can do is to call this a subspecies of the Bullock’s or Baltimore Oriole. There are two sub species. I.b. bullockii and the other is I.b. Parvus. The other possibility is that this bird is a hybrid and according to literature the hybrids molt at least twice before the next spring. It also might not be possible to give this bird a positive ID if it is a subspecies.

I just wish that I had hired a carpenter to take the storm window off before fall migration. I had wanted to remove the screen but the entire outer window has to be removed. There is another window that “goes up and down” in front of the storm window. I plan to get that done soon since this is a window for optimum viewing and thus acts a perfect place to set up my little ole canon 60D with its el cheapo 200mm lens.

unknown bird    September 10,2013

Unknown bird September 10,2013

9/10/2013  Unknown bird

9/10/2013 Unknown bird

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Photographed through a window screen. September 10, 2013

Photographed through a window screen. September 10, 2013

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“Humdingers and Hover Arounds: The Hummingbirds

Late one afternoon I was walking about the yard with my camera and not expecting to see any hummingbirds when I heard the unmistakable sounds of 2 hummers that were squeaking and tweaking. I watched in fascination as they darted in and out of the Mexican Bush Sage that grows in my old garden plot about 250 feet from my house. I did not have my tripod and wished that this time I had my very old trusty camera support. These pics were shot with my canon 200mmm kit lens and of course, here I go again- they would be better with at least a 300mm L series but alas I do not have the lens that I had counted on getting. I let it go back to be put in the case for sale. Just got afraid to spend the money when my daughter’s health insurance was no longer in the federal government pool. This is an aside here but we have no idea what insurance company we can get for her or what it will cost. Therefore I could not blithely spend 1,500 smacker roos on a camera lens. But one day…

Back to the hummers. The Black Chinned and the Ruby Throated females and immatures are very difficult to identify and even experts sometimes have a problem. After taking notes from my photos, I might, later, be able to identify which is which. The hummers in the pics are not all of the same bird. The hummer feeding on the Skyflower appears to be an immature male but which one I know not. πŸ™‚

The last pic is of the little hummer snagging/shagging an insect. (β€œIn baseball, shagging is the act of catching fly balls in the outfield outside the context of an actual baseball game.[1] This is most commonly done by pitchers during batting practice before the ball game,[2] where they assist their hitting teammates by catching or picking up their batted baseballs and throwing them back to the pitching area in the infield. Batboys also help shagging baseballs, and it is reportedly considered a great honor among batboys to be asked to do this.”) {Source Wikepedia} You can see its long tongue that grabbed perhaps a fly, mosquito, gnat, or whatever. I like that pic a lot and will probably never get another one of the bird’s tongue reaching out to feed without moving its body. A stunning aspect of nature. πŸ™‚

Note: Linda of Shore Acres http://shoreacres.wordpress.com/ included the Shag video in her comment and I have taken the liberty to include it in this post. The dance is great entertainment to watch. Be sure to check out Linda’s blog as a source for some fascinating reading and information. She is an excellent writer.

A "hover around" feeding on Mexican Bush Sage. A female or immatire Black chinned or Ruby throated Hummingbird. I believe it to be a Black Chinned but I could be very wrong. I don't  have all the field ID marks. There were 2 hummers who fought over the flowers until one flew away.

A “hover around” feeding on Mexican Bush Sage. A female or immatire Black chinned or Ruby throated Hummingbird. I believe it to be a Black Chinned but I could be very wrong. I don’t have all the field ID marks. There were 2 hummers who fought over the flowers until one flew away.

This hummer sat on a dead sunflower branch and shagged skeeters or other insects as they swamed nearby. Fascinating to watch.

This hummer sat on a dead sunflower branch and shagged skeeters or other insects as they swamed nearby. Fascinating to watch.

A humdinger feeding on Skyflower (Duranta) A plant that has been one of THE BEST for attracting butters and hummers.

A humdinger feeding on Skyflower (Duranta) A plant that has been one of THE BEST for attracting butters and hummers.

Black chinned or Ruby throated Hummingbird (female or immature)

Black chinned or Ruby throated Hummingbird (female or immature)

A humdinger feeding on Mexican Bush Sage

A humdinger feeding on Mexican Bush Sage

These species very difficult to identify. I've tried for days comparing pics and field notes and still have no identity.

These species very difficult to identify. I’ve tried for days comparing pics and field notes and still have no identity.

Immature or a female Black chinned or Ruby Throated Hummingbird. Very difficult to identify positively

Immature or a female Black chinned or Ruby Throated Hummingbird. Very difficult to identify positively

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In The Garden: Lizard, Anole, Gecho of Central Texas

The male anole "blows out" his throat pouch as a means of attracting mates and to assert territory.

The male anole “blows out” his throat pouch as a means of attracting mates and to assert territory.

This little beauty was basking in the sun on the dead stem of a Frostweed plant that blooms in my yard in the fall.

This little beauty was basking in the sun on the dead stem of a Frostweed plant that blooms in my yard in the fall.

 The Green Anole (anolis carolinensis) changes color from green to yellowish brown to a warm brown. This pic is my favorite of the photos in this post.
The little anole perched on a wrought iron chair on the front patio which is surrounded by lots of vegetation.

The little anole perched on a wrought iron chair on the front patio which is surrounded by lots of vegetation.

The friendly green anole here is a yellowish-brown color. Color is affected by temp and sunlight. I like this color. I think he/she knows is's cute. :-) Well not really but it's posing nicely for me in this photo op. :-)

The friendly green anole here is a yellowish-brown color. Color is affected by temp and sunlight. I like this color. I think he/she knows it’s cute. πŸ™‚ Well not really but it’s posing nicely for me in this photo op. πŸ™‚

An odd looking little creature that was introduced from Europe.  Eats roaches/insects and is considered beneficial. This is the largest one that I've seen It was perched on cracked plastic garden pot- Outside of course. They thrive inside homes if it can escape  the clutches of a cat.

An odd looking little creature that was introduced from Europe. Eats roaches/insects and is considered beneficial. This is the largest one that I’ve seen It was perched on cracked plastic garden pot- Outside of course. They thrive inside homes if it can escape the clutches of a cat.

Look closely or you will miss the lizard. The Texas Spiny Lizard in this photo blends perfectly on this small decaying tree sapling.

Look closely or you will miss the lizard.
The Texas Spiny Lizard in this photo blends perfectly on this small decaying tree sapling.

 This Green Anole changes color depending on temperature and sunlight. In this pic the anole is looking dapper in his brown suit.

This Green Anole changes color depending on temperature and sunlight. In this pic the anole is looking dapper in his brown suit.

I have not posted in a while so I’ve had a bit of a problem with the captions. Not sure why they did not show but it might be because I changed the photo sizes several times before inserting into the post.

Top three pics are of the Green Anole (anolis carolinensis)

The spoted one is a Mediterranean House Gecko (hemidaclylus turicus)

The Texas Spiny Lizard (sceloporous olivaceus) is the gray lizard perched on the decayed small tree that had grown into the chain link fence. He is so well camouflaged that he/she is almot invisible.

The last pic is of the Green Anole (anolis carolinensis) in his brown suit for the day.

A few photos here to give my viewers, readers, lurkers, and visitors a glimpse of some of the small creatures that I encounter, almost on a daily basis. I often get a fleeting glimpse of these beneficial little critters as I water my butterfly garden or walk about my yard. I generally try to have my camera nearby so that I can grab a pic here or there. These pictures are not so much here as they are there simply because I had to do some mad scrambling to capture these little beauties on film or rather digital mode.

All of these are beneficial for they eat small insects and I think they are just cute. I really feel entertained when I see one on a leaf or twig as they bask in the sun.

The anole dressed in his brown suit was almost like a pet. I saw him almost daily on the same spot of wood. I could see him watching me and he only moved when I needed to move the 2×4 that was his basking spot. After two months he had disappeared and I am pretty certain that he had been eaten by a predator such as a snake. I was sad when he no longer made an appearance but I knew that eventually he would meet his Waterloo. The literature says that an anole in the wild lives an average of two years but can live up to seven years in captivity.

Post and photographs: yvonne

Please do not reblog without permission.

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Migrants (winter-spring) and Resident Birds.

These shots do not compare with Andrew’s photography of “All Down Here From Here.” See Andrew’s marvelous nature and bird shots and enjoy his remarkable sense of humor/humour at http://ajh57.wordpress.com/

These were shot with a 200mm lens and that is “all I can do for now.” I am not overly fond of these and I am sort of limited. πŸ™‚ I find that I am always apologizing and I am sorry that I can’t stop my pea size brain, beady little eyes, and gnarled fingers from thinking, seeing, and tapping/talking. πŸ™‚

Mockingbird

Mockingbird> State bird of Texas. A virtual band unto itself. Able to imitate so many sounds, even musical instruments.My yard birds,however, are not fine musicians. Lots of other bird imitations though. This bird’s wings are drooping for this day it had been well over 100 F. This is a repeat image posting.

 Carolina Wren is a resident bird. For non-birders that means year around. I looove this little bird. It often nests in a Hoya in a basket that hangs on the back stoop. I hear it singing almost everyday-even in the winter. Biologists say the life span of the Carolina is about one year. It is simply vulnerable to many hazards.

Carolina Wren is a resident bird. For non-birders that means year around. I looove this little bird. It often nests in a hoya in a basket that hangs on the back stoop I hear it singing almost everyday-even in the winter. Biologists say the life span of the Carolina is about one year. It is simply vunerable to many hazzards.

  Cedar Waxwing- migratory winter resident. I stood on my little electric cart to get these pics. They initially flew away when I drove to the holly but they returned about 3- minutes later. Those red berries were too enticing.

Cedar Waxwing-migratory winder resident. I stood on my little electric cart to get these pics. They initially flew away when I drove to the holly but they returned about 3 minutes later. Those red berries were too enticing.

Cedar

Cedar Waxwing The bird and I exchanged a knowing glance. πŸ™‚ I wondered if this one was the sentry for the flock.

a flock of 30 birds or so devoured the berries of this native yuopon holly in about 30 minutes. Greedy beauties. They were soundless as they alit, refueled and, flew away.

a flock of 30 birds or so devoured the berries of this native yuopon holly in about 30 minutes. Greedy beauties. They were soundless as they alit, refueled and, flew away.

Post and photographs ~yvonne~

Winter Sunsets

The lake is not far from my house. If I want a decent pic with no power lines- the lake is the place. I can quickly get there when I notice the infrequent gorgeous sunset colors. Don’t look too closely for some of the pics are not level. I did not use a tripod for it is too much trouble to drag along when time is not on one’s side during the color changes of a really good sunset. So, with no further apologies, here are a few that I grabbed back in the winter.

These colors have not been edited. Just my little ole canon's view

These colors have not been edited. Just my little ole canon’s view

Sun is almost beyond the horizon

Sun is almost beyond the horizon

Sunset of a different day- cold front or rain predicated or both. :-

Sunset of a different day- cold front or rain predicated or both. :-

Brilliant colors prior to a weather change

Brilliant colors prior to a weather change

Post and photographs ~yvonne~

Spring Has Sprung in Central Texas

a view from the driveway. Mexican plum in bloom

a view from the driveway. Mexican plum in bloom

Non-native young fruit and buds of the Pomegrante which is a tree a helper dug from my in-laws estate in the 70's. Early leaves are a gorgeous reddish color and the blooms are beautiful. The fruit tastes awful

Non-native young fruit and buds of the Pomegrante which is a tree a helper dug from my in-laws estate in the 70’s. Early leaves are a gorgeous reddish color and the blooms are beautiful. The fruit tastes awful

Eve's necklace: native, drought tolerant, understory tree.

Eve’s necklace: native, drought tolerant, understory tree.

Rusty Blackhaw Virbunum, native. Understory or full sun- fairly rare. Beautiful new leaves in spring with good fall color.

Rusty Blackhaw Virbunum, native. Understory or full sun- fairly rare. Beautiful new leaves in spring with good fall color.”

[caption id="attachment_4528" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Tiny fruit of an unknown native grape variety. Pretty in the spring as if in bloom. Male grape as it never produce any grapes. I need to research that Tiny fruit of an unknown native grape variety. Pretty in the spring as if in bloom. Male grape as it never produce any grapes. I need to research that

Birds love the fruit when ripe in the fall of American Beautyberry, native shrub. Immature spring fruit of American Beautyberry. Birds enjoy the fruit of this easy to grow native.

Newly formed fruit of the Elbow Bush. In late April-May the fruit  ripens to a dark blue and is soon eaten by the birds. Easy to grow native. Survives severe drought (in my yard. Often grows as an understory small shrub.

Newly formed fruit of the Elbow Bush. In late April-May the fruit ripens to a dark blue and is soon eaten by the birds. Easy to grow native. Survives severe drought (in my yard. Often grows as an understory small shrub.

Immature figs of Brown Turkey variety. Birds eat most of the ripe figs

Immature figs of Brown Turkey variety. Birds eat most of the ripe figs

I have photos of a more spring blooms but these will suffice for now. Getting these pix into this post has been nothing short of a minor miracle. A long and tiring job. I have not posted a group pf photos in a while. I tried to get these to work as a slideshow but I had no cooperation from my brain to the media gallery of WP. I will have to look that up someplace as it seems I’ve forgotten how. Ticks me off- a lot!

No Time to Reply to Comments. Thanks to All For Commenting.

Eves necklace. Grows happily as a small understory tree or in mostly full sun. . Blooms become long dangling back "beads." Indians made use of the beads.

Eves necklace. Grows happily as a small understory tree or in mostly full sun. Blooms become long dangling back “beads.” Indians used the beads for decoration.

Just a short note to let all the individuals that subscribe to my blog that I hope to have a computer in about 2 weeks give or take a week or two.

Thanks to all for commenting. I can go to a friend’s house who has kindly offered me the use of her computer for a few hours. I might be able to respond to comments then. I am so sorry that things are so out of sorts.

On a good note I sold a high-resolution pic to a horticulture mag and it ran in the February or March issue. (pic is Eve’s Necklace) I had not heard anything from the woman and was beginning to believe that I had been ripped off. The money is very little but I feel honored that she thought my pic was good enough for the Texas Horticulture magazine.

This pic just happened to be in my WP media library. This is not the pic that was used in the mag- unless it was cropped. Anyway this gives an idea of what this great little native looks like. I think the blossoms resemble sweet pea blooms.

I wish that I had had the sense to put more pics in WP media files. I have some there but most of those have already been shown in a post. I will look again at some point but can’t today. I have 20 minutes left on this computer.

I think that all my photos moved to the external hard drive but until I can down load I will not know if the drive removed all of them or not.

Regards,
Yvonne

I Call These Mellow Yellow (slideshow)

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It seems that lots of native plants in my yard that flower in the fall tend to be yellow. I titled this post Mellow Yellow and I suppose you could say the colors are sort of mellow. I thought it had a good ring for a title. You know one that you speak and it sort of rolls off your tongue because it rhymes.  All of what you see here, I either dug from the wild, bought at a nursery, or the birds carried the seed.  The blossoms on the fall bloomers tend to last about 6 weeks or more.  Some plants, of which I know not the name just keep on blooming- sort of like the Ever Ready bunny. The photo of the  China berry tree is lousy. The  light was not good and I don't use photo shop except for to edit to black and white or sepia. I included a few butterfly pics. I do not know the names of these little jewels. I am sorry. Too lazy to look them up.

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