Category Archives: Nature

Monarch Butterflies Love Frostweed. Rerun: Original -posted 11/14/2012

Monarch on fall blooming native Frostweed. Photographed September, 2011

Monarch on fall blooming native Frostweed. Photographed September, 2011

Migrating Monarch nectaring on native Frostweed.  Photographed September 26, 2011

Migrating Monarch nectaring on Frostweed.
Photographed September 26, 2011

058I’m so sorry folks but this is a post that is an old one. But I see that WP did not recognize the original post date. I needed to rework this post due to some errors of spelling, etc. and the fact that these were done as a gallery posting. And the photos did not come out as a slide show as I had intended. I had goofed mightily and thus pulled it from the blog where it has been sitting as “private.” So tonight, February 25, 2014, I worked on “reworking” this post. ūüôā Anyhoo so much for all that.

Around September the The Frostweed, a native, begins blooming. This dependable and very hardy plant is a nectar source for many species of butteflies. I’ve allowed it to grow in all its wild glory and in one area it is at least six feet tall. The tall ones grow along a wooden fence and receive the benefits of the neighbors lawn sprinkler system. Under the Cedar Elms and Live Oaks it is much shorter and maybe grows to about three to four feet tall. These areas where the shorties grow is much drier with dappled shade.

Some fifty years ago I planted maybe two plants that I dug from the wild. This past year I created a space of plants that caters to the butterflies taste. With the arrival of about five Mexican Butterfly Weed plants, the Monarchs all but ignored the Frostweed and instead zeroed in on the colorful Mexican butterfly weed which serves as a host and nectar plant for the Monarchs,

Freezing temps of 18-20 degrees killed the Mexican Butterfly Weed, a tropical flower. And, possibly a few other flowers of first year plantings that did not have an established root system. Now, I will have to buy new plants. I don’t mind spending a little bit of money. Anything to help the dwindling number of Monarch butterflies. Conservation practice is always a good thing no matter how small the effort.

Below is a link of one of my blogging friends, Stephen Gingold who is a superb photographer. Please check out his blog. His photos are a real treat. The first photo that appears when the link opens up is of a plant called Frostweed that grows in northeast, United States.

http://stephengingoldphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Flora/G0000J7rraELfG3M/I0000pGahqxyekVU

Monarch butterfly nectaring on Frostweed.  Honey bee in background. September 26, 2011

Monarch butterfly nectaring on Frostweed. Honey bee in background. September 26, 2011

Monarch Nectaring on Frostweed growing in my yard. September 26, 2011

Monarch Nectaring on Frostweed growing in my yard. September 26, 2011

  Monarch butterfly     (honey bee in background)

Monarch butterfly on Frostweed 9/26/2011

 Monarch feeding on Frostweed, growing in my yard.  October, 2011

Monarch feeding on Frostweed, growing in my yard. October, 2011

Monarch butterfly on fall blooming native Frostweed

Monarch butterfly on fall blooming native Frostweed

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Some Photos of Butterflies and Flora (Slideshow)

There are a few things in my yard that look kinda pretty. Most of, if not all the photos are of plants that I  grow for the birds , butterflies, and wildlife. These pictures were all taken late summer and up to about the last week of October.  I continue to struggle with creating a slide show. I have way too many photos and folders and I find that I am still hunting for certain pics. I  must get organized. Yep, I know what my problem is,  I just don’t know how to fix it. I do know that I love far too many of my photos that are not all that good. Therefore I must learn to delete more, right?

Note: Did you read that LouAnn? http://onthehomefrontandbeyond.wordpress.com/ Organized to some reasonable degree. Obviously I am deficient in that category! 

slide show

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The Mockingbird and the Beautyberry ( click to enlarge- October, 2012)

Perfect desert

I shall choose just the right one

This berry looks just right

I must be cautious and watch and listen for those that will eat me

The Beautyberry is an easy to grow native shrub and one that

I began with two broken off twigs that I removed from a shrub near Lake Palestine in east Texas many years ago. Once in a while my husband would take our children and me on an overnight fishing trip. I have never likeed camping and on this trip it was very hot and humid. I was miserable the whole time besides trying to keep an eye on my children who I made wear life jackets if they were near the water or in the boat. Both our children were excellent swimmers by the time they were 3 and 5 years old. But when near the water and not knowing the lake I insisted they have on a life jacket.

 Anyhoo- the best part of this little trip was getting the early spring cuttings to take root and now I have several beautyberry shrubs in various parts of the yard. The birds helped spread the seed and I almost always leave the plant to grow wherever it has sprung up.

I was sitting in my little electic cart watching for butterflies when this bird flew to the beautberry. I don’t think that he/she even noticed me. I am sorry that these are not sharper and larger. My lens is an 18-200mm zoom and I could not place the camera on a tripod or the bird would surely have flown away.

Post and photographs: Yvonne

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The View From the Highway (click to enlarge photo)

Very old stone ranch house

My view from the highway is more than what one would expect driving in this rather unimpressive area of Texas.  It sounds boring but I always find something of interest. I drive about 130 miles from where I live for an appointment with a medical specialist. There is not much traffic and the countryside is wide open and rather desolate in some areas. Mostly it is ranch land on each side of the highway with many hills covered with cedar trees- mountain cedar or juniper to be correct. Lots and lots of cedar and not much of anything different to break the monotony. But there are some interesting views about every 10-15 miles or so.

It is Texas hill country and this time of the year there is not much scenery except dead deer that are too numerous to count. To me, it seems that hunting really isn’t needed to control the deer population. Four wheels to the deer are just as deadly as a hunter’s rifle. It still bothers me to see all the deer carcasses which makes me wonder if the deer’s death might not have been as swift as a bullet through the chest.

Game ranches are fairly frequent and are evident by the  8 to 10 foot tall fencing with special wire attached. Here the deer are enclosed and get to graze on oats or wheat, hay and or special deer feed. The game ranches are generally owned by wealthy individuals who make a profit by operating a swank hunting ranch. Some of these ranches have exotic game and the rich and privileged fly in from Dallas, Houston, or where ever to have a “relaxing week-end” of shooting at animals that have been fed and more or less pampered.

This kind of hunt is known as a “canned” hunt, meaning that the hunter really does not have to do much more that take aim and pull the trigger and he will have bagged a white tail stag with a huge rack. The rack refers to the spread of the antlers and how many points are part of the rack. Most hunters want a deer with a large rack which indicates a magnificent trophy.

Mules walking to the fence to check me out

Back to the drive to Marble Falls. I like this drive for several reasons. There are beautiful mules and donkeys to see if they happen to be near the road on my drive to and from Marble Falls.

Back in the summer some mules were fairly close to the highway. I stopped the truck;  gave my best whistle call for horses and mules (learned from my dad) and to my surprise that whistle is either a universal equine call or the mules just wanted to see what I was about. In the past I have attempted to take photos of the donkeys on my drive but they have yet to be near enough to the highway for me to get a decent picture.

My other reason for liking the drive is seeing all the old farm/ranch implements, old houses and barns. The tractors, plows, rakes, etc are rusted but I consider these pure objects of beauty. One small town that I drive through has a shop where cars that are in various stages of  rust and age are restored.

And finally,  my best reason for this post (that has become too long and rambling)  is the old 1800’s ranch house that I was able to get a few shots of when the lighting was not the best.  Writing about my  130 mile trip has given me a greater appreciation of my view from the highway.

Friendly mules that rolled in the mud

 

Post and photographs: Yvonne

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I Am Embarrassed -re: Incorrect Names of Butterflies

I have not taken the time to change the names of the butterflies that I had labeled as monarchs. One of the viewers, http://run-a-roundranch.blogspot.com/  by TexWisGirl over on Blogger, clued me in on the correct name.  And, also the names of the butterflies that I did not know.  She is a very talented lady who does detailed colored pencil drawings of birds, butterflies and takes great pics of the wildlife, barns, gates, pets, etc in her neck of the woods.

I hope to correct  the names  some time soon.  I am almost afraid to touch the photos because I lost some really good ones of Molly the squirrel dog as I was editing that post for publication. Those photos were some of the best of Molly and when I looked in the Media library they had not gone there nor could I  find the originals in my Microsoft folders. I am too put out about it. Maybe they will  turn up somehow. I will look again when I have more time to peruse the media gallery. I just had too much to do today. I was thanking folks for leaving comments and liking my blogging efforts. And, I in turn visited, read, and commented on these blogs as well.  It seems that I did this off and on all day between my animal chores.

Post and photograph: Yvonne

The Squirrel Patrol Dog (Click for slide show) No. 1

 

 

 

 

 
 Photographs by Yvonne   
 
  

   

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The Squirrel Patrol Dog (No. 2) (Click for slide show)

I should call the labrador, in the photo, a squirrel dog instead of a retriever.  While eyeballing the squirrels, Molly makes a great subject since she remains virtually in one spot as she displays an array of expressions.  

 Molly has MANY squirrels to watch. To say that these critters or varmints,  err, I mean rodents, are abundant, is an understatement. Just how many squirrels are in one section of our neighborhood? Well, my neighbor Mr. P. has trapped a mere 20 or so squirrels in about two days. He traps and then takes them to the other side of the lake or down to the river where there are plenty of tress. Last year he trapped about 200 squirrels.

The problem¬†with so many¬†squirrels is that they will rob a pecan tree of every last pecan within a very short time. The hungry little rodents don’t even wait for the pecans to ripen on the tree in our yard. I don’t bother spraying the tree in late winter or early spring for sticky shuck disease for there is simply no point to spend money in a futile attempt to reap a tiny bounty of pecans besides putting¬† more harmful chemicals in the environment.¬†

So I trust Mr P. to control the squirrel population. But lest you think he is depleting the neighborhood of these adorable little varmints, I mean rodents, he doesn’t make much of a dent. Come spring and summer, every tree in our yard has at least¬†two to three¬†squirrel nests situated high in the big live oaks and elms. I can readily tell you that the squirrels in our yard and¬†those in Mr.¬†P’s yard have an abundant food supply. Beginning in the summer there are¬†about 8 fig trees that provide¬†supplemental food. In addition there are plenty of oaks that supply acorns each fall.

I¬† stopped putting bird seed out mostly to deter the squirrels from coming and nesting in our yard.¬†Actually, I know better than to think that I¬†could control the squirrels by merely¬†ceasing to feed the birds. But hey, I¬†gave it a try anyway.¬†And then, one day¬†I¬†saw a¬†Red Shouldered hawk and to my dismay,¬†learned the hawk had a mate and¬†the happy couple had¬†set up shop and were nesting in our area. They¬†weren’t just¬†catching the¬†squirrels but also were picking off the white wing doves and¬†other song birds.¬†I saw no logical reason to make it easier for the hawks to have a virtual feeding station just outside our windows. I saw the hawks lurking in the trees off and on during August and September. I did my best to scare then away by blowing up paper sacks that I popped. That was enough to scare then away for the rest of the day and then they were back the next day.¬†¬†Trying to keep the hawks at bay lasted about a¬†week.¬† So, I let my hawk vigil fall by the wayside.¬†Simply put it¬†was stupid and required too much time and energy.

 

 

 
Post and photographs by Yvonne Daniel  
 
  

   

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Butterflies And Frostweed (click to enlarge)

butterflies feeding on frostweed      (queen butterfly)

butterflies relishes frostweed    (queen butterfly)

butterfly feeding   (buckeye) on frostweed.

butterfly  (emperor –tawny or hackberry)? sipping  frostweed nectar

The  butterflies have drifted through, a few at a time. I have not been able to spend much time getting pics of them.

I apologize that the pics are not sharp.  (prime lens needed). I used a tripod for most of these. Of course, after cropping, the pixels went from 18 to about 12 or probably less thus reducing the sharpness.

Top 3 pics are of the queen butterfly. 

Post and photographs:  Yvonne  

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Trying To Grab A Sunset: Repost (11/2011 Click to enlarge photos

A live oak for added interest

                                                         

A vivid sunset across the lake

Central Texas sunset

Barren tree against a vivid November sky.

Dusk to night just a few minutes away

Note: This was posted November, 2011.  

I have my sights set on capturing sunsets. That is if the clouds and weather will help me out by producing the right atmosphere that makes for a vivid sunset.
Every day is becoming shorter and shorter. There is not much time to get to a place where you know a pretty sunset is putting on a show. The trouble is I never know when a good one is about to happen, that is unless I keep up with the weather forecast.  The sun produces the prettiest colors a day or two prior to rain or a cold front. Of course, the addition of some clouds enhances a sunset making it something other than h0-hum.
 
A couple of weeks ago, I grabbed a leash, put one of my best guard dogs and equipment in the truck, and drove to the lake. This is the only place near me where there are no power lines to obstruct the view.  I can get to the lake in about 3-4 minutes. Since I am a chicken and very paranoid, I never get out of a vehicle to photograph when alone. I also pack a gun.
I edited the pictures in¬†Microsoft Windows which does a¬†fair job. I still don’t know enough about Adobe to create anything other than sepia and black and white.¬†I’m posting these pics with a promise to¬†have some better ones at some¬†point in the future.¬†(I hope)¬†
     
Post and photographs  Yvonne
  
 
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Central Texas Ranch

These scenes are on a central Texas ranch where my son has a two year hunting lease. He built the owner of the ranch a beautiful iron entry gate in exchange for the lease. The two labs in the post are the pets of the lady who owns the ranch. They dove right into one spot of the creek that is laden with algae. So the odd color of the water is thick algae growth. It was almost sunset and I had to take pictures in a big hurry.

Reflections in the ranch creek

Post and photographs Yvonne

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Central Texas Ranch Without Hills (Reposted 9/28/2012)

Back in April of this year I accompanied my son to a ranch about 8-10 miles from his house. My son knew that I had not been on a “field trip” with my camera in a long time and¬†took me to his hunting lease.
This ranch is in a somewhat secluded location.¬† We drove¬†on a¬†long gravel ranch road that is used¬†by several ranchers. The road was rough¬†with¬†shallow gullies on each side. We went through three gates and the last¬†gate was one that my son had built in¬†exchange for a two year hunting lease. The lady of the ranch gave me a tour of her¬†property. She¬†provided a running commentary¬†of the history and of her grandparents who¬†were the original owners. Ms.P.’s yellow labs accompanied us on our tour and ran ahead of the electric cart that we were using. The dogs were in the creek swimming by the time we got to the water’s edge. Ms. P. was dismayed to see there was heavy algae growth where the water ran slow and shallow. Further down the creek where the water was deeper and swifter there was no algae growing.
I took as many photos as I could before the light was too dim. I came away with a few photos that are okay but not great.  So, my little field trip was not totally lost and I had a few enjoyable hours with Ms. P. as my guide. 
 
Post and photographs Yvonne

Reflections in the ranch creek

Post and photographs Yvonne

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A Well Managed Ranch: Sheep, Dogs, Cats, Chickens (click on photos to enlarge)

Flock moving to the barn before sunset

 

Orange and white classic tabby

 

Great Pyrenees protects the sheep

 
 


old live oak tree

 

 

The hill country ranch that I visited¬†in the spring¬†is a lovely place.¬† I brought my camera and took pics of the cousins.¬†After all of the¬†posing, smiling, and¬†“when are you going to put your camera down?”¬†I went outside to¬†see the animals¬†and savor the scenery.

The entire place was one of serenity- quiet,clean, and dignified.  No bits of paper and NO CLUTTER.  Everything was in place.

My cousin, Linda and her husband have worked very hard to manage the land and to respect it as well. There were no dead live oaks, scrub brush, mountain cedar, nor any cactus.  Earl, my cousin-in-law has been careful to continue to manage the range land in the same manner as his father.  But on many ranches, over grazing has caused the destruction of good grass land and over grazing led to non -desirous vegatative growth such as mountain cedar and cactus that took over and ruined the range land.

The ranch house, was built some time ago but has been remodeled. It is light and airy with large windows that provide wonderful air circulation. All the rooms are tastefully decorated with contemporary furniture and some antiques that were handed down from generations that are now gone. The mix of furniture was restful and lovely.         

A ranch or farm¬†just would not be what it¬†is without the addition of various animals.¬†¬†On this ranch, all¬†the animals served a purpose.¬†There¬† were 4 dogs,¬†7 cats, 15 chickens, 2 guineas, and a huge flock of sheep. And lots of wild birds that I could hear¬†and see just by standing still; watching and listening.¬†¬†The Great Pyrenees dog is the guardian of the flock, the Border Collie and Australian Shepherd mix serves as a watch dog, and then there¬†is one very pretty Pembroke Corgi (tri-colored) and a Pembroke and Australian Cattle dog mix that looked almost like a purebred Corgi. The two corgis can actually assume the role of sheep dog but these two are my cousin Linda and her husband Earl’s personal pets. They tell me that they are “dog people” more than they are cat people even though there are 7 neutered or spayed cats around. Four cats live in the barn and keep the rat and mice population in check. The other 3 cats are more people oriented and “hang out”¬†in the patio and garage areas. All of the cats and dogs look¬†very healthy and lead¬†a contented life.

Back to the birds. I did not get¬†a picture of the¬†Purple¬†Martin house with its twittering inhabitants that¬† (I’m still wondering how I failed to take pics of the martins) were circling around and around their bird¬†home that was placed in an area between the house and the barn that is devoid of trees. In order to attract Purple Martins it¬†is a must to have their nesting box situated where the birds can¬†circle around their house¬†without the hindrance of¬†trees or shrubs- that is at least 25 feet in diameter. Purple Martins are habitual circlers¬† and glide around their nesting box. These birds are what is known as colony birds which means that they nest and roost¬†in¬†close promimity of like birds. They ae gregarious by nature and seem to take great delight as they dip and dive among those of their own kind.

The Purple Martin is a very desirous bird to have around for they eat thousands of mosquitoes each day. There is only one draw back of having these birds around. They begin gathering in huge flocks where they roost at night for about 2 weeks before they head out for the jungle areas of Brazil.

As an aside, I have known indviduals that have spent a lifetime attempting to attract these birds to their home in order to keep the mosquito population down. Iv’e had many people tell me what an assest these birds are. It is always a sad day about the 2nd or 3rd week of July when they begin gathering to¬†leave for their wintering grounds.¬†By the end of July all of the meeting/roosting places have been abandoned and not one Purple Martin can be found- until around February of the next year when the birds return to resume where they left off.

I can absolutely say that my visit¬†to the ranch¬†was like a mini vacation for me. I was relaxed and entertained.¬†It was truly a “field day for me.”

Post and photographs Yvonne

Flock of mixed breeds

 

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