Dog Days: Wildlife Wednesday, August 2016

Welcome to Wildlife Wednesday for August–and a toasty one it is.  July definitely felt like the dog days of summer had arrived: it was hot and dry, with the relentless, searing Texas sun beating down mercilessly.  Weirdly, that didn’t keep me out of the garden–I’ve been tweaking and transplanting in the garden all summer. Truthfully, it’s not as hot as recent summers, though it’s been humid owing to the generous spring–and some late July– rain.

Because of the pond and bird bath water available, wildlife in my garden has been active and varied, though only (it seems) when I don’t have my camera at the ready. Regardless, I’ve enjoyed observing Dad Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis, feeding his fledged chicks, but never nabbed a shot of the charming familial activities.  The Little Boy Cardinal, all scraggly and awkward, is cute:

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But I don’t have any photos of Little Girl Cardinal, though often see both siblings pecking seeds alongside one another on the ground.

I see the odd Carolina Chickadee, Poecile carolinensis, snitching seeds from the feeder, but more often, I hear one announcing his territory.  It’s always fun to observe and hear them–big songs out of tiny birds.

The Chickadees’ pals, Black-crested TitmiceBaeolophus atricristatus, dash in for their share of seeds, taking turns with the Chickadees as they feed while dodging the gluttonous White-winged doves.

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The bird baths and pond have hosted a steady stream of visitors sipping and cooling off, like this joyful bathing Blue Jay, Cyanotta cristata       .

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Announcing her intention of bathing, she’s making it clear that there will be no sharing of the bath.

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Pretty at this angle…

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Pretty at this angle.

I don’t think there’s a bird species anywhere that relishes a splash-in-the-bath more than these beautiful guys-n-gals.

Earlier in the month, I fretted about the lack of Lesser Goldfinches, Spinus psaltria, nibbling at the sunflower seeds.  I’m fairly sure I rankle a neighbor (or two…) when I don’t immediately prune done-with-flowering plants according to human sensibilities of beauty. But I’m glad I don’t prune because this past week, a little crew of Lessers arrived to partake of the sunflower seed buffet!

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Chatty and determined to eat their fill, I love watching them bop around the plants as they munch away. Lesser Goldfinches, as well as other bird species, enjoy seeds from a variety of perennials in my gardens.   In the fall, I’ll see another round of these cuties dining on the Plains Goldeneye seeds–it’s something to look forward to.  Enjoy your beautiful blooms, but once the blooming is done, leave the spent blooms to develop nutritious seeds for birds: they’ll visit your garden and you’ll enjoy the show.  After all, that’s what seeds are for–to feed wildlife.  Plants may look messy for a short time, but the pleasure of watching a variety of birds feed is well worth the short-lived untidiness of the plants, plus you’ll be adding to the health of your endemic wild critters.

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Honeybees have had plenty to nectar on and pollen-gather from this summer.

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Native bees are busy at their work.  This tiny bee (Perdita ignota?) and her friends have been all over the also tiny florets of an oregano,

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…while these two mating Horsefly-like carpenter bees, Xylocopa tabaniformis,

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Ole Blue Eyes is very determined.

…bring a new meaning to the term multi-tasking, as they flew “entangled” while nectaring on Mexican Honeysuckle blooms.

No bee here, but instead, evidence of a busy mama leafcutter bee sawing off bits of leaves to pack into her nest for her little bee-ones.

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I wish I could have watched her work.

Moths and butterflies are occupied, too.  Pretty-in-pink is this Southern Pink Moth, Pyrausta inornatalis, resting on a Henry Duelberg Sage.

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I was lucky late one afternoon to spy a Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia.

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Buckeyes are common–except in my garden, though I grow several species of Ruellia plants which is one of this species host plants. I guess I need to keep a keen eye out for eggs and/or caterpillars on the Ruellia.  Stunning in color and patterns, the males will perch on plants scanning for females–maybe this one was looking for a mate?

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At any rate, he posed nicely and I hope he met a nice girl.

It isn’t July–or summer, for that matter–without the dragonflies.  This jewel-like Blue Dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis, demonstrated patience with my photo taking .

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I saw him land, went inside the house to get my camera and promptly was distracted by something shiny. Later (at least 10 minutes later), I remembered why  I came into the house (please tell me that happens to you!).  I grabbed the camera, headed back out and Mr. Gorgeous was graciously waiting for me.  I guess he REALLY wanted to appear in this month’s Wildlife Wednesday.  

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There are plenty of other dragons and damsels in the garden, mostly because there are several ponds in the neighborhood. They’re excellent predators for mosquitoes and who can complain about that?  Go get’em, dragons-n-damsels!

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Speaking of predators, the assassins are active, as well as being some of the coolest looking bugs around.  The Wheel BugArius cristatus, is looks like he just exited  from a space ship.

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Both males and females have the toothy-wheel protuberance on their thorax, though the exact purpose of this crest is not known.  Probably it’s to freak out everyone.

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Actually, these beneficial insects are quite shy and don’t seek conflict.  Of course, that’s true of most insects–and other wildlife.  Wheel Bugs and their kin feed on aphids, caterpillars and other assorted insects and thwart predators with their stinky essence.

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A related assassin bug is this Zelus luridus.

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I observed him (her?) lurking about on the developing seed heads of a fennel plant.

Another was perched on top of the plant,

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…but later in the day, during mid-afternoon when it was very hot, this smart one decided to use the seed umbel as an umbrella and crawled underneath for some shade.

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In vertical stance along the stem, the bug is shaded.

I’m fairly sure that I spied this one was holding an iddy-biddy umbrella drink in its claws.

A good idea, if you ask me.

A day or two before, I’d seen another assassin (or maybe the same?) with a hapless and stunned little native bee in its grips.  As I leaned in for a closer look, the predator winged to the ground, with prey “in hand.”  Assassins prey on all soft-bodied insects, including some of the good ones.

Late July saw the dog days disrupted briefly with a gift of gorgeous, soaking rain.  Woo-hoo!!  The reprieve from summer’s heat didn’t last for long though and August is always tough here in Texas.  Alas, autumn is just around the corner.

Until next month…

Did wildlife visit your garden this past month? Please post for August Wildlife Wednesday. Share the rare or mundane, funny or fascinating, beneficial or harmful critters you encounter. When you comment on my post, please remember to leave a link to your Wildlife Wednesday post so readers can enjoy a variety of garden wildlife observations.

Happy wildlife gardening!

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22 thoughts on “Dog Days: Wildlife Wednesday, August 2016

  1. Great post, Tina! I loved your bird photos! Glad your goldfinches arrived…and thanks for permission to let my garden go a little wild…for the birds. 😉 Also, I have to say I’ve never seen a pink moth before–that’s pretty cool!

    July was a busy month for me–not much time for gardening or blogging, but I did sit out by the butterfly garden one day and took photos of the wildlife that came my way. That’s what’s featured in my Wildlife Wednesday post for this month: http://poultrypalaceandgardens.blogspot.com/2016/08/wildlife-wednesday-happy-camper.html

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    • Thanks, Tracy. I admit to some summer-time blahs and it was a hard one to get out. Those pink moths are common here–I love to spot them, tiny as they are.

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  2. Yes, the dog days are here. I have been trying to do little tasks around the garden until I’m drenched in sweat, humidity is always high in this part of Texas. I love seeing your “yellow” goldfinches. They always have their winter colors when they arrive here. I saw a juvenile hawk in the backyard. A bluejay had been screaming for quite a long time and I finally checked it out. But the hawk spotted me pulling out my phone and flew off.

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    • Perspiration is the name of the game right now, that’s for certain. cooler days are ahead though….

      Nice that you had a hawk visit!! You can always count on the blue jays to sound the alerts for raptors.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tina maravillosa como siempre. Me encantan todos sus visitantes a su jardín. Los pájaros son preciosos y el Niño Pequeño Cardenal es adorable. Yo también les pongo un comedero a los pájaros. Las mariposas son preciosas. He tenido crisálidas a montones colgando de las hojas de un árbol. La libélula es un encanto. Y los demás bichos son preciosos. Las fotos son maravillosas y sus comentarios me enseñan muchas cosas. Aquí en la parte de España donde estoy también hace mucho calor y no hay quien esté en el jardín. A partir de las 20:00 horas es cuando se puede salir al jardín. ¿Cómo está su colmena? Espero que muy bien. Saludos de Margarita.

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    • Thank you, Margarita. It’s a hot time of the year, no doubt about that. Nice about your chrysalises–that must have been something to see. The hives are interesting. We had a swarm that I caught and placed into one of our new Langstroth hives. I’m not sure where the swarm came from though–it might have been one from another hive. They always keep us learning, those honeybees.

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      • Tina siempre es bueno aprender. Yo lo hago todos los días de mi perro y de mi gata. Y de los pájaros silvestres que admiro cada día más, porque son muy inteligentes. Saludos de Margarita.

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  4. Pingback: Wildlife Wednesday August – in few words – Botanically Inclined – Seed Adventures

    • Thanks! I wasn’t quite as happy with my bird photos this month, but I haven’t spent much time photographing, so I have nothing to complain about
      Hot is no fun! I know what you mean about the critters “running away”–I feel that way every-time I walk outside.

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  5. Pingback: Wildlife Visitors in July | My Wild Australia

    • Thanks, Sue! Isn’t the wheel bug interesting? I don’t see them often, though I know they’re around. I was very happy to see the Lessers–I miss them when they’re not in the garden.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. To ID the first wheel bug I spotted in my garden I searched on “Stegosaurus bug” and it came right up. That’s been a while, I need to get out there and look closer. Yes, I also run in for my camera and end up doing something else entirely. Blue Dasher is just gorgeous. I’ve seen a lot of dragons and damsels but they are not nearly so patient or maybe I’m the one who needs more patience in the heat.

    Showing my sister’s friend around my garden last week I told her “I garden ugly this time of year” by leaving drying seedheads and waiting to cut back those last few blooming perennials until there’s plenty of nectar from other flowers. She’s a master gardener over in east Texas so she totally understood.

    It’s a deer story this month,
    http://rockoakdeer.blogspot.com/2016/08/wildlife-wednesday-july-2016-deer-deer.html

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  7. Ah, as I’m reading your joyful words about a good soaking rain, we are having a welcome thunderstorm and soaking rain. Some folks near here had strong winds, but my neighborhood is simply getting the rain, which we needed so badly. What a beautiful wildlife post. You have so many wonderful visitors, even during the heat of the summer!

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    • Rain in summer is nothing short of glorious! Thanks for reading–it was a hard post to do, for various reasons, so that makes your compliment all the more appreciated!

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  8. hello Tina, apologies for being 2 days late with my wildlife Wednesday post,
    my you may have had some very hot weather but that doesn’t stop your bountiful wildlife, I love the bathing beauty blue jay photos and you are so right about leaving seedheads for wildlife, it tends to be encouraged here though sometimes in the guise of seedheads adding structure to the winter garden, I’ve never seen such a brightly coloured moth and so pretty with the blue sage flowers,
    thanks as always for hosting this lovely and interesting meme, my post is (finally) posted, Frances
    https://islandthreads.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/wildlife-wednesday-august/

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  9. haha I am delighted. The wheelbug really does look like it walked out of a spaceship and baby cardinals make my heart throb. I have the odd wild sunflower growing along the edge of the lot. I admit they look out of place and ahem weedy. Some stealthy person keeps snipping them and taking them away! All summer long I played with the idea of leaving a note about how they are there to feed the bees. I can only hope it is some little person who loves wild flowers and not a grumpy old Mcgrumpleton thinking they are unsightly — but I have yet to catch them in the act ….

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