Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend Update

Gosh, I can't believe it's been over a week since my last post and we're over halfway through July now! Although it's been pretty warm during the days, it cools down quite nicely in the evenings and I can't even bring myself to come inside once it gets close to dark because there are fireflies everywhere in my backyard and I just love watching them winking all around me. So the consequences to that are no time for doing a post or reading other blogs either. I really thought I could get back into regular posts, but I was so wrong....... I've even got a couple saved and awaiting completion, so the intentions are there, but the willpower is not. Anyway, I'll make up for it today by showing you some random images from the past weekend.

I mowed the lawn on Saturday and that's a good time to see a lot of different things in the backyard. Here's the most unusual thing I saw on the underside of some milkweed leaves: I've never seen anything like this before in my life. Does anyone know what these things are?

We're approaching peak bloom in the wildfower garden.
I forgot I had planted this Bee Balm several years ago. I love the gorgeous magenta color.
I saw a Great Spangled Fritillary land on one of the coneflowers while I was mowing, but when I came back later with the camera, of course, it was gone. However, I did spot this cool little spider on a Queen Anne's Lace blossom. Can you see it?
Here's a look from a different angle--you can see its legs on either side of the flower. I consulted my Kaufman Field Guide to Insects and found out that this is a Flower Crab Spider. "Females can change color from white to yellow to match the flowers where they wait in ambush for flies, bees, and other pollinators." How cool is that? In fact, when I checked the Queen Anne's Lace blossoms this afternoon, I spotted one of these spiders with a little fly in her jaws.

I found another wren nest. I like this little wren house because it opens from the top and you can actually see their nest. There are 6 eggs in here.
We had a little rain Saturday evening and Sunday morning dawned bright and cool. While Mr. Johnson was out on the deck enjoying a cup of coffee, he alerted me to a bunny rabbit in the garden. Here's a picture I took from the deck......
And when I got a little closer, I could see this naughty bunny parked right in the middle of the carrots! Know how he gets in? Right through the fence! I DISAPPROVE! The adult bunnies can't get through the fence....just these teen-age bunnies.

Check out this beautiful lady who showed up at the backyard birdfeeder around 10 AM.
I've never seen a deer in the backyard during the daytime! It makes me wonder how often they're here during the day while we're at work? She hung around for quite a while and we were hoping maybe some fawns would show up, but they never did and when I went around the house to try and get a better picture, she spotted me and ran away.

Here's a little red squirrel I caught inside the "squirrel proof" cage on my birdfeeder.

Know how he gets in? Through the top! Can you sense his desperation as he tries to squeeze back through while I was a few feet away taking this picture? I can see a trip to my Wild Birds Unlimited store in the near future to purchase a guard to put over the top of the squirrel proof cage.

While weeding the garden, I harvested a few of the "Cylindra" beets. This is my first attempt at growing beets and I'm curious to see how they cook up and taste.

I'll try to get caught up on those couple of posts I've got saved......I've got a good story and pictures on the development of my backyard wildlife habitat and also a book review on the Smithsonian Field Guide to Birds, not to mention more pictures on the camera that are just waiting to hit the blogosphere. So check back again and thanks for your faithful visits and comments.


Anonymous said...

Do you think there really is a squirrel proof bird feeder? That pic shows how ingenious they really are when it comes to food? Your doe is so regal to look at, maybe you have to take a sick day, just so you can see what goes on in your yard when your not there. Bunnies like your garden too I see, but not from the same angle as we see it, little "buggers". What a fun blog, plus beautiful pics. Thanks.

Lynne said...

LOL! I ove the bunny inside your bunny-proof fencing and the squirrel inside your squirrel-proof feeder!!
Your wildflower garden looks so pretty. Is it all planted/seeded? Do you have to weed it to keep weeds from choking it?
That doe looks so healthy and sleek. She must like your birdseed mix!
I've always loved Queen Anne's Lace.
Don't worry about the posting here. I think most everyone has cut back this summer.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You have quite the busy garden Ruthie. "Squirrel proof" is a term that is sprinkled around in bird feeding stores that doesn't mean a thing. It should read "Squirrel Challenge".

Deb said...

"Squirrel challenge"... i like that.

So you've had cool nights in southern MN too? I was downright cold last night, sleeping out in the new house with the windows open, and it really only got down to 50 degrees. I say "only" because it has gotten into the forties probably the majority of nights this summer.

I feel like that too, so much to blog about, so little time!

Marsha said...

Ruthie, I loved this update! Where to begin...the object on the milkweed leaf is huge. How did you spot that? I wouldn't even venture a guess what it is but at first glance it is not too attractive :-)
Your wildflower garden is absolutely gorgeous. I love wildflowers and finally got Queen Anne's lace to grow in my garden. Show us the goldfinches feeding on all those coneflowers this fall, will you?
I have plenty of wrens but have never seen a nest or egg until now.
The bunny proof fence and squirrel proof feeder photos are just too funny. The dogs do a good job of keeping most bunnies away but the squirrels are getting fat around here.
Those beets look delicious! How do you cook them? We grew up boiling them and serving with butter but now I like them roasted too.

Red said...

Those darn bunnies and squirrels! But they're so cute too. Can't stay mad at them, right? If you sent in that picture to the manufacturer, do you think they would send you some money? ha ha!

That spider on the QA Lace is so cool. It might freak me out if I accidentally brushed it, but wow, it's fascinating how they can be so chameleon-like.

I envy your backyard. Our little patches of wildflowers have to suffice to spur my imagination that I lived where my yard went as far as I could see.

Red said...

oh yeah, i'm hoping that egg sac on the leaf isn't a bad thing. It looks like a little mud ball, and all I can think with that is hornets, but my guess is a hornets' nest is much larger than that.

Meggie said...

The photo of the squirrel is a riot! Poor little bugger looks very nervous. I, too, have many doe that visit my birdfeeders. I keep waiting to see their fawn, but have not seen them yet. I hope to post photos of one lovely lady real soon. Your beets look very nice, Ruth. Hope they cook up well. Let us know. Don't worry about your frequency of posting or commenting. We know how busy summertime can be. Relax and enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Ruth, Dad and I talked about that stuff under the leaf. We both agree on the fact it might be a mud dauber,[not sure of the spelling] a kind of wasp. The shape of the whole thing with the little indentations sure reminds of such a thing, of course we are not always right, so take it for what it's worth. the size is right.


loribird said...

When I saw the structure on the bottom of that leaf, some voice from my childhood in NC said, "Mud dauber nest!" I googled a little, and sure enough, it seems to be a nest created by a black-and-yellow mud dauber wasp. Here is a webpage with some suspiciously similar photos at the bottom. (here's hoping the linkage works...)

Your yard is full of such fascinating stuff! The squirrel is absolutely hilarious; the deer takes the cake, though. Beautiful!

Mary C said...

The wildlife seem to thrive in your yard. Your yard is too "friendly" for them. LOL ;o) I love those squirrel photos. Amazing how ingenious they are, especially when it comes to food.

Jayne said...

My first thought was a dauber nest of some sort too, though that's an odd place for sure.
LOL at the bunneh in the garden! :c)
And the squirrel in the squirrel proof feeder too. Oh yeah. Wiley little things.
It's nice to see a catch up post Ruthie and to know that all is well. We've missed you! Hugs!

danielle said...

What glorious pictures you have here! I love the magenta bee balm. I have the pink stuff that pretty much matches my phlox and coneflower--my plan is to put in other colors next year.

Your white spider reminds me of my favorite Robert Frost poem, Design.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mom,
Yeah, I thought about taking a "sick week"....there's so much that I miss during the day. When I walked past the garden yesterday after work, I found out the deer must have discovered it now because some peas and cucumbers were munched off--at about the 4 ft height! I suppose they were out wandering in the yard during the day again.

Hi Lynne,
The wildflower garden started out pretty small and I've just let it expand to about twice its original size over the years. There are a few weeds (mostly thistles) but I don't pull them anymore because butterflies like the flowers and goldfinches use the thistledown for nesting. Sometimes I will cut everything down in the spring and burn portions, but otherwise there's really no maintenance!

Hi Lisa,
I think that any birdfeeder marked as squirrel-proof doesn't include red squirrels, don't you? They are smart enough and small enough to get to any food they want!

Hi Deb,
I saw on the weather you've been having much cooler nighttime temps than we have (only the low 60's here), but in July, I'll take it.
Are you hearing some interesting night sounds through your open windows out there in the country??

Thanks Marsha, I spotted those little mud balls on the milkweed leaf because they were at eye-level next to a tree I was mowing around.
There are always lots of birds in that wildflower garden, but I'll try to capture more photos of birds and butterflies as the seasons progress.
My bunnies are getting pretty bold--since our other dog died (she was the best bunny chaser). Sophie mostly likes to chase streaked gophers and the bunnies usually just sit there and watch her run past!
I usually just boil the beets and then make an orange glaze to pour over them (found the recipe at

Hi Red,
I think I'm going to have to re-think my garden fence for next year--I've also noticed some little holes dug up that might be chipmunk related! and now the deer have discovered things that are growing higher than the fence!
I'm like you--definitely not a spider person--fortunately the zoom on my camera allowed me to keep this blossom at arms length to take a photo!

Hi Meggie,
I haven't seen the red squirrel in my yard for a while, so I was delighted to get these "captive" photos. They're such hilarious little critters.
I'll have to make time to stop over at your blog and see your deer pictures. Are you still seeing turkeys in your backyard too?

Hi Mom,
Loribird found the answer for me in her sure to click on the link she posted.

Hi Loribird,
Thanks so much for this link. The photos were great and it looks like I've found the nests of Potters Wasps. I'm so happy to have found out about 2 new insects in my yard (and I was happy to learn that Potters Wasps are more interested in other insects than humans!) Who needs pesticides when you can let other insects & birds do the job for you?

You're right Mary--I sometimes think they're starting to take advantage of me (or at least my backyard :-) But that's been my goal since we moved to this spot, so I can't really complain--except that I don't have enough time to spend watching everything.

Thanks Jayne, I'm glad you enjoyed all of my random observations too. As I was sitting at the computer composing this post, I realized how much I've missed it. Maybe if I start skipping my afternoon nap I can ease back into blogging.....

RuthieJ said...

Hi Danielle,
Welcome & thanks so much for visiting my blog. I have some other bee balm in my butterfly garden that's a dark pink, but I like this darker magenta color enough to think about dividing it for transplanting (that's how I got this plant--from a friend who had it expanding too much in her own garden).

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as squirrel proof. The buggers are so clever that I must give them credit for their ingenuity.

The white flower spider is one of the more interesting spiders around there. Their white coloration freaks some people out, but I find them prettier than most.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Scienceguy,
The cage on my tube feeder is actually to keep the grackles out because they'll empty the entire tube in less than a day. I don't have very many squirrels in my yard and this little red squirrel doesn't eat too much from this feeder....I just think it's funny to see him try to get out of the cage once he knows I'm coming to chase him away!
I've never seen the white spider before, so it was really neat to discover it (and I'm glad it wasn't a "jumping" spider!)

Julie said...

Its always a treat to read your blog! I've shared this post with a few others who I think will appreciate it. Great pictures!
Have you ever thought of a game cam? I was thinking you had one???

Julie said...

Mud Dogger? Mud Dauber? Something like that is whats on your leaf, I think. I hope you've got an answer.

Marie-P said...

Julie sent me the link to this post and I am glad that she did. I enjoyed the post and your blog. I too have been caturing and posting pics of my backyard visitors, and it is quite interesting. The squirrels get into every feeder~ :D