Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bird in the Night

I recently had a visit from a Killdeer, my first encounter of this plover-type bird. I heard it before I saw it, and I haven't seen it since, but I know it still is around.

At night I let the dogs out for their last trip to potty around 10:00 p.m. There is a street light a couple of lots over which is more than enough light for this "Dark Sky" loving individual, but pretty much it is dark in my rural yard…VERY dark. The Irish Setter and Yellow Labrador are free to run on their own at this hour, but my English Setter, Tanner, needs to be on a leash, as he would never come back inside given the choice of searching out wildlife in the garden or coming back inside to sleep. He's a nature lover, as well.

Stomped down grasses with a "hole" at the fenceline from my neighbor's natural area is evidence that I have marsh rabbits that visit the pond at night. The sound of doves taking flight as we walk along the driveway also whets his appetite to stay outdoors. But, nothing has captured his interest as the killdeer (pictured top during the day). The alarm sound of this bird has created a monster in my English boy. At first he merely perked up his ears and got in a "set" position. Now he wakes me faithfully at 4:00 a.m. with pleas of needing to go out. He really doesn't need to go…he just wants to flush out and hear this bird that is using our meadow grasses as night cover. Although sleep deprived, I find it amusing.

I find it more interesting that the bird chooses to stay in the area that the dogs have access to 24/7. Just yards away, on the backyard side of a fence, is my bird "promotion" area which the dogs only have access to when I am with them. Perhaps the killdeer is lying in wait to be amused as well.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Butterfly of Winter

I saw another Common Buckeye today when not much else of the insect variety was showing itself in the cooler temperatures. Somehow "common" doesn't describe them at all...they are quite regal-looking with their numerous eyes on colorful wings.

The photo here is one from after the first freeze in December as I was not quick enough to capture today's brave soul with the camera. You can click the picture to see it full size.

Junonia coenia is the scientific name for this species which uses several different larval hosts in Florida which in my garden include: fogfruit (Phyla nodiflora); toadflax (Linaria spp.); plantain (Plantago spp.) twinflower (Dyschoriste spp.) and bluehearts (Buchnera americana). Based on this long list (there are other hosts too), the caterpillars aren't particularly fussy.

They are a little on the shy side...darting off if you cast a shadow too closely, but every now and again they will be so enthralled in a flower or hanging out in the gravel driveway that you'll get a good photo. And they sure do help brighten a winter day.

Be sure to visit over at for great ideas on attracting wildlife to your own garden.

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