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Monday, November 25, 2013

New Bird for my Life List

I'll be the first to admit that I'm easily distracted. Case in point, this morning my husband and I were about to sit down and have a cup of coffee together when my eye caught something unusual out in the back garden.

It didn't look like the usual run of the mill birds that visit our garden, but I need to get new glasses, so I was unsure as to what it was.

Coffee forgotten, I ran to get my camera and proceeded to snap photos of it -- through the blinds!! 

Most of the photos were pretty lousy, with an area of blur at the top and bottom, caused by the aforementioned blinds I was trying to shoot through.  But a couple of them came out well enough for me to attempt an identification.

I love the search feature on, that allows you to check off various attributes of the bird you are trying to identify, such as the location, it's shape, size, color and identifying marks, and comes up with a range of possible bird identifications.

I believe this to be a Loggerhead Shrike, Lanius ludovicianus, also called the Butcher bird.

Click on the pictures for a larger, more detailed version.

The Loggerhead Shrike feeds on small vertebrates and invertebrates using the hooked bill and is known for its habit of impaling prey on thorns or barbed wire.  So I'm guessing he wasn't in my garden because of the bird feeders....

 While I'm not organized enough to actually maintain a "Life List" as serious birders like to do, but it was sort of neat to see and identify a bird I had never seen before.  I'm also glad I was able to get a couple of photos of it.

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Brand New Monarch

We've had quite a lot of success with our certified Monarch Waystation, but with all the milkweed, caterpillars and chrysalises (chrysalii??) I've never actually seen a Monarch emerge.

Until today, that is.

I noticed yesterday that one of the chrysalises had turned color, so I knew it wasn't going to be long.

I went outside this morning, meaning to get a photo of the almost black chrysalis but when I got out there, I was too late for that particular photo, but right on time for the rest of the show!

I stood a couple of feet away, fascinated, and snapped several photos.

I was a little bit worried because although it was nice and sunny today, it was also quite windy and I thought the butterfly might get blown away before it was ready to fly.

In fact, after being buffeted around for half an hour or so, it did get blown down. I went outside and didn't see it so I assumed it had flown away, but actually my husband noticed it on the ground.  I put my hand down next to it and it crawled on to my fingers!

Thinking that what it needed was nourishment, I walked it over to the Dallas Red Lantana and set it down on the plant. The area had the double advantage of being in the sunshine and also protected from a lot of the wind.

It seemed to sit in one place for quite a while and I worried again that something was wrong, and that perhaps the episode would end the same way it did last Christmas when a Monarch emerged and was unable to fly.

But about 30 minutes later I went outside again and as I raised the camera to take another photo, the butterfly fluttered up and away over the wall.  Later still, I spotted a Monarch flying around in the garden looking strong and healthy.  I like to think it was "my" Monarch and that my humble little Monarch Waystation is making a difference.

We've still got three more chrysalises that I know of and I hope all goes smoothly for them too. 

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.