Sunday, July 25, 2010

Garden Fence Fail!

I spotted this little guy in the garden this morning. How in the world do they get in? The fence is stapled down all the way around the bottom edge.
Fortunately for this little bun (and my garden) he was feasting on the dandelion leaves, so I let him stay. Maybe the abundance of dandelions growing in there will distract him from the peas and beans.......

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Monarch Ranch Update

First monarch chrysalis was formed this morning!

There are also 4 teeny, tiny just-hatched caterpillars crawling around on their own milkweed leaf in the ranch.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Monarch Ranch 2010

It's official! Ruthie's 2010 Monarch Ranch officially opened this evening! As I was mowing the lawn yesterday afternoon. I noticed an abundance of monarch butterflies flitting around the yard and hanging on the underside of milkweed leaves appearing to lay eggs. So tonight when we got home from our after-supper walk with Sophie, I checked a few plants in the front yard to see whether I could find any caterpillars or eggs to stock the ranch.

I found these 2 already hatched caterpillars. I'm betting the big one will probably go into chrysalis stage sometime this weekend.
I also found 12 caterpillar eggs! I like raising the caterpillars from eggs. It takes a little big longer, but I have much more success with raising them to butterflies because there's no chance of any of the caterpillars being parasitized by wasps or flies when they grow up inside my house. If you're wondering exactly what I'm doing with these eggs, it's a moistened washcloth in a pie plate. I just cut off a small portion of the leaf where the egg is laid. The washcloth will keep the leaf moist and also from curling up. Plus, it's much easier to monitor how close the eggs are to hatching when they're visible like this. Once the tiny caterpillar hatches, I just put it (and the little leaf fragment) on a fresh milkweed leaf and the caterpillar will be ready to start eating and growing.

This last picture has nothing to do with the monarch ranch, but when I was editing the photos I found this one on the card in my camera that I had taken a few weeks ago. It's Mrs. Bluebird peeking out of the door of her house. Isn't she cute? Four bluebird babies were successfully fledged from this house.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Sunday Afternoon Drive

We have been on a Yellow-Headed Blackbird quest for the past couple of weekends. I haven't checked one off my Minnesota bird list for several years and Mr. Johnson has never seen one, so last Sunday afternoon and this Sunday afternoon were spent searching for this bird at some local state parks where there's ideal yellow-headed blackbird habitat.

Our search today started at Whitewater State Park in Winona County. Driving into the park, I spotted this deer......can you see it?

OK, how 'bout now? Yeah, you're right....the head always makes a deer so much easier to spot!

But wait, there's more! A few more miles down the road we had to stop to allow this pretty doe and her 2 adorable fawns to cross the road. Fortunately, I had my camera ready and was able to get some good photos.


We left the state park and headed out into the Whitewater Wildlife Management area. Check out this ideal yellow-headed blackbird habitat. Plenty of water and marshy areas all surrounded by cattails. But did we ever spot a yellow-headed blackbird? No, not a single one!!

And even though we never did find that elusive yellow-headed blackbird, we were rewarded with plenty of other beautiful sights along the way.

Lots of colorful wildflowers

Wood ducks hanging out on a nesting platform

Great Blue Heron patiently searching for lunch
And check out all those beautiful water lilies in the background. I believe they're American Lotus and there were thousands of these blooming all over in the ponds.

Another Great Blue Heron (they're such cool birds!)

Bald Eagle fly-by

If any of my southeastern Minnesota readers can give me a tip about where I can head to next weekend on another yellow-headed blackbird quest (within an hour's drive of Rochester), I'd really appreciate it.

Have a great week everybody!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Couple Photos

Thought I'd check in with a quick post of a couple photos I've taken recently. First is the little family of house wrens who recently fledged from a nest box in the front yard. I love this little house because the roof is hinged and you can get a really good view of the baby birds. There are 6 baby wrens in there! #3 arrow is pointing to a baby that's hiding under #2 and the #4 arrow is pointing to a beak of another baby squished between #2 and #5. These little wrens sure made a lot of noise and kept their parents busy from morning til night finding enough insects to feed this hungry brood!

I also managed to capture this Cedar Waxwing who landed on one of the perching branches on my deck. This isn't the best photo of a Cedar Waxwing that I've ever taken, but I thought it was neat because you can really see the red "wax tips" on its wing. I've got a lot of these in my backyard now because all the berries are starting to ripen. I'm still hoping that some day I'll be lucky enough to find one of their nests.

Happy 4th of July to All!!