Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Robins…….it must be Winter

In the North, when the Robins return you know it is spring. Here in FL, when the Robins return you know it is Winter.

We’ve seen several flocks in the tops of the trees. We used to have hundreds feeding in the Pepper bush, but most of those froze 2 winters ago and havn’t come back yet. It is a very invasive plant and although we love having the birds..it isn’t worth it to have them spread the seeds.

This morning I noticed a few in the yard….it wasn’t long before there were several bathing in the Raccoons watering hole.


I put this one on the ground near the pit I put my compost in so the Raccoons wouldn’t have to come to the bird bath.

Look at the Robin on the R side of the picture. He must be the lookout.


There were more in the trees waiting for a turn. Hope they come back tomorrow. Looks like I will need to refill the bath when they are done.


A short video of them bathing. Hope they hang around and clean the yard of insects.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

OOPS!! I don’t think “Duffer” fits anymore

We’ve been calling this raccoon “Duffer”. Because it’s face is so grey….we thought it was an old fellow.


Now I believe it is a “mask less” raccoon.

It wasn’t until I took these pictures of her and the babies that I realized she wasn’t grey….she just didn’t have a mask.

I started searching and found this blog  http://dorispotter.blogspot.com/2010/04/special-raccoon.html     Her photo of a mask less raccoon convinced me. Check her photos…she has some beauties.


Those little guys are soooo cute. In the picture above they hear Jim working on the boat.

This is one of the first days she brought them out and they were pretty skittish.


Every little noise sent them scurrying back into the bushes.


The edge of the yard has a lot of undergrowth….tall grass and weeds. This one is coming out of one of the tunnels thru it that they use.


Here is a short video of them looking for food. I have been putting dog biscuits down there for them ……to help Momma get a good start. I’ll cut back so that she teaches them to look for natural food. They’ll be able to come in for a drink and a biscuit but it will not be their main food supply.

We did see another mother with 3 babies. They were much larger than these two, and only came in for water then left. No treats for them.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Painted Buntings are back

A few have been coming to the feeder for a month now.


It’s hard to get good pictures. The feeders are in the back yard on a 12’ pole. I can see the birds while I enjoy my morning coffee by the fire (wood stove) in the sun/screen room. What is really nice about winter in FL….I can have a fire overnight and by 10am I have all the doors and windows open.

Unfortunately, the least bit of movement can send them flying into the Bottlebrush bush next to the feeders. I keep the lower limbs of the bush cut about 4’ above ground so nothing can hide under them.


The pole is pvc to prevent the raccoons, squirrels and cats from climbing it.

They usually start coming in just as it is getting light out. The first bird I see is the male Cardinal. Then the male bunting.


So far, the most I’ve seen at one time is 2 male buntings and 2 green buntings. The green can either be female or juvenile males. Before they leave in April the green males will have molted and show their new pretty colors.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Meet Duffer

We’ve been seeing this raccoon for quite awhile. He checks out the compost hole and does a good job of digging it up looking for the worms it draws.


I’ve been squeezing Tangelos and all the rinds go into the hole, along with the ashes from the wood stove.

He sure has some long whiskers.


We really don’t know if it is a male or female, but “Duffer” stuck because it has such a grey face.

Right now he’s checking out the table scraps I put in his bowl.


We look forward to seeing him. The cats accept him. He walked within 2 or 3 feet of them and they just laid there and looked at him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Look what came to dinner…..Opossum

I was loading up the wood stove, when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. At first, I thought it was one of the cats coming up for their “breakfast milk”.


After finishing up the milk, it made sure the plate was licked clean.


It has been back several times….the cats just lay on the deck and watch it. A few weeks ago I saw one about half again as big, with very dark, almost black hair….but it hasn’t been back or near the deck.

You’d think the 3 cats would run off all the wildlife…but they don’t. The Opossum, the Raccoons and the Armadillos all share the yard with them.

But I don’t see any fruit rats anymore, and the tangelos are getting ripe.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Butterfly Kind of Day.

I was surprised at how many butterflies showed up at the same time today.

We were working on the boat when a Tiger Swallowtail cruised by and I had to run and grab the camera. We’ve seen one most every day for the past few weeks. A wingspan of about 5” and they seem to glide everywhere.


A Gulf Fritillary ….on a very invasive plant.


A female Queen.  I’ve released several Queens the past week or two.


The Queen’s underside has lines. You don’t see them from the top.


A Palamedes Swallowtail …..a bit frayed around the edges.



A Peacock and a Queen on the tropical milkweed.


I chased several Yellow Sulphurs around but this was the best I could get.


I was surprised at how many colors the Peacock has. Very pale blues..I think there is also some iridescence to them that I couldn’t capture with the camera.


and how about this little Brazilian Skipper. I never paid much attention to them until I saw one in a photo. They have such big beautiful eyes. Canna Lilies are their host plant and I have several in the wetlands.

I’m not sure what this plant is…but it smells beautiful.


A male Queen….note the black spot on his hind wing.


On the underside of the hind wing it is the white dot circled with black.


The Zebra Longwings have been here all summer. There are usually 3 or 4 together.


I have about 25 Queen caterpillars in my Butterfly House. I haven’t seen many Monarchs lately. Maybe they have already migrated….or they’ve found other plants to lay their eggs on since there are Queens here and they compete for the same Milkweed plants.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

TREED BY A SQUIRREL……..how embarrassing!

Our cat, Lightening, loves to watch the squirrels. Today it looked like they were playing with him……perhaps trying to get him to fall….

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There were 2 of them….when he went to the top and sat still……one would run up and chatter at him.


He’d start out onto the dead branches until one gave way and then he’d go back to the top.015cs

It looked like the squirrels were having a great time teasing the cat…..


He finally got tired of it …..gave up…..and came down.   The squirrels went back to chasing each other around the tree while Lightening watched from the deck.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gopher Tortoise

I looked down the road today and saw something walking towards me. I got my camera and started taking pictures. Kind of a grumpy look on it’s face….like  “get outta my way”.
It just kept on walking at a steady pace.
About ever 15’ or 20’  it would settle down and rest. And a few minutes later it was on it’s way again.
Looks like it must have just come out of a burrow…still damp dirt on it’s shell and face. It’s so dirty I couldn’t find any colors, but it is so cute.
It came right up into the yard.
It walked over to the camper and settled down in the shade.  That was  a few hours ago and it’s still there……hope he finds a spot in our place to call home.
Jim thinks it’s pretty neat too, and thought it would be nice if it stayed. He doesn’t realize it’s not a water turtle…..and if he thinks the Armadillos dig holes…..wait till he sees what this little guy can do.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Baby Armadillo….another one

We spotted this little guy about 3 weeks ago.  It looks like it’s shell is still soft.


You can see the shape of the skeleton underneath. It doesn’t have the rounded look yet.


It has a lot of hair on it. Look along it’s back, the edge of the shell by the hind leg and in the light spot behind it’s ears.


It was very active and didn’t seem the least bit concerned with us being there.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tiger Swallowtail…….. a “ragged beauty”

One of my favorites. It is such a large butterfly and sometimes very easy to photograph since they don’t flap their wings a lot. Today wasn’t the best day…it was windy. So, even though the butterfly stayed still…the bush didn’t.

This Tiger Swallowtail was concentrating on the Hairy Beggar Tick plant. It grows all over the outer edges of our spot here in the woods. 3’ to 4’ tall and looks like little daisies.


The plant is a weed so it fits right in here…that’s about all we have since I don’t use weed killer or pesticides.

I love the huge eyes and the fat fuzzy body.


This one hung around for quite awhile…then was gone.


One of the host plants for the Tiger Swallowtail is a Red Maple. We have several in the woods and a sapling we planted in the wetlands with the Needle Palms and the Cana Lilies.

Perhaps with all the Beggar Ticks blooming, it will be back.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012


We had a new visitor to the back yard. I believe it is a Barred Owl.

We were enjoying our early morning coffee in the screen room when it swooped in and landed.


This is the tree in the backyard by the bird feeders. We had to cut the top out of it last year because it is hollow near the bottom and within falling distance of the house.

The cats sometimes climb up and sit there.


A beautiful bird. Blends in well with the tree and branches.

It didn’t take long for the cats to disappear…..so perhaps it’s been here before.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Giant Milkweed

On the 10th  I posted a picture of my Giant Milkweed…….or what was left of them.  They had been outside for a day or two.


This is the one in the pot on the L.  I was thrilled to see how much it had grown. Hot sunshine and afternoon thunder showers can do wonders.


I didn’t expect it to come back so quickly…….and hadn’t planned on using it for caterpillars for a few more weeks. Unfortunately, when I checked it closely today….it is already hosting several new hatchlings.


I decided to bring it inside so they wouldn’t lay any more eggs on it and to keep the wasps and spiders from getting them.

The leaf is less than 1 and 1/2 inch wide.…you can see how small the little guy is. It must have hatched yesterday, because there are smaller ones on the other leaves. The white spot at the top is where it has been feeding. That is “milk” that has seeped out of the leaf where it was munching. The egg was most likely attached there. When it hatches the egg shell is the first thing it eats…then it starts on the plant.

On the leaf below the one I am measuring, you can see a small white dot. That is an egg. Look to the R, on the next leaf and you can see another tiny caterpillar. It looks like todays hatchling.


I may leave them on this plant for a few days and then let them travel to a few of the Tropical Milkweed.  I have more of them.

About 8 or 9 days from now it will be ready to pupate.