Sunday, November 28, 2010

Today's (Texas) Flowers

Mexican Hat
Ratibida columnaris (Asteraceae)

This 2 - 3 foot tall, robust, drought tolerant perennial
 is a variety that is native to the mid-west
 and has naturalized throughout North America.
 The characteristic black, cone-shaped heads
 are surrounded by drooping, fire-red ray flowers
 with a splash of yellow accent. 

They bloom from June through September,
but this lone flower waitied for me
to arrive in TX for the holidays!
By clicking HERE, you can see more beautiful flowers from around the world.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My World Tuesday: So, It's Hunting Season

Hunting season really cramps my style. 
I have to compensate by paying closer attention
to what's going on in my own backyard. 

This year I'm delighted to have
 a new backyard environment
to nose around in while
I am visiting my daughter in TX. 

One just never knows who'll come for a visit!!

Perhaps it might be a handsome Northern Mockingbird,
the Texas State Bird,

or a caterpillar that will some day grow up to be a 
 Great Leopard Moth

This Variagated Fritillary, (Euptoieta claudia), although a little
tattered around the edges, was a delightful find!

A lizard type visitor?

Or a friendly neighborhood owl or two!

For a simple,
fun tutorial
and pattern,
to make this
sweet owl
visit Juicy-Bits

See more My World posts by clicking right HERE!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Texas Odonata

How delightful to be in a new environment!  And how gracious this lovely Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta) was to rest for a few minutes, giving me time to snap a few photos.

While dallying at the water's edge, several of them flew up to me and checked me out, up and down, side to side, before continuing on their hunt for a tasty treat.  Just shy of 2" long, they seemed bigger in mid flight.  Red Saddlebags are of the family of skimmers, and are very beneficial, as they feed on mosquitos and small flies.  Skimmers are noted to be the most common and the most colorful of the dragonfly family.  Greg Lasley, a nature photographer, has some exquisite photos of Red Saddlebags.

I had to lean way out over the water to grab this shot of the Desert Firetail (Telebasis salva).  I had never seen such a fiery red damselfly before and couldn't resist almost falling into the water for this shot.  I wish I could have gotten closer.  I was surprised to read that they frequent only 3 states -Texas, Arizona, and California.  I guess I'm a lucky girl to have spotted them at the pond.

And I was excited to find a different meadowhawk than those that frequent my wet meadow up in Cape Breton.

Variegated Meadowhawk
(Sympetrum corruptum )

The other damselflies and spreadwings that I observed at the pond were almost impossible for me to identify through the photos I took.  They were everywhere!  They literally carpeted the surface of the water.  Usually I am quite satisfied with my little camera, but this day I wished I had a better outfit!

I saved this little guy from drowning.  He sat in the sun on my knee for about 5 minutes before he flew away.

I guess you get the idea!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas is Coming!

Don't wait for the last minute to finish your Christmas shopping!  Here are the few books I've recommended in the past for you to consider when making your gift giving decisions. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Little Blue Heron

(Egretta caerulea)

I accompanied my daughter to work on Wednesday, confident I could amuse myself while she toiled at her job.  Much to my delight, there is a trail behind the college that circles a small pond. 

As I quietly made my way along the well-worn path, watching and waiting, listening for anything and everything, I spotted this little head.

Freezing on the spot, I waited patiently as it slowly emerged from the vegetation.  Ah, yes, a Little Blue Heron!  My heart started to race as I stepped as quietly as I could to get a better view.  Don't see specimens like this in the far north  Atlantic Maritimes, and rarely in the marshes of Maine!  I felt pretty lucky because I know Little Blues are secretive, blend in well, and that I'm on the very western fringe of their range.

Standing approximately 2 feet tall, with a 40 inch wingspan, one might say that a Little Blue Heron isn't quite so little.  But compared to the Great Blue (Ardea herodias), it's name is significant.  The Great Blue Heron measures 36-55" from head to toe, and boasts a wingspan of up to 79"!

There is no distinction between the plumage of the male and female Little Blue Heron, but an immature is all white for approximately the first year.  Mother Nature, being as smart as she is, saw to it the immature herons remained white to enable them to feed alongside the Snowy Egrets, who tolerate them while they are white much more than when they turn blue.

Preferring freshwater swamps, lagoons, coastal thickets and marshy islands, it's a pity the Little Blue's choice of diet is small crustaceans (crayfish) because there were hundreds upon hundreds of damsel and dragonflies on and around this pond.

I don't know if you can see the dragonfly just above and to the right!
Some were as big as small birds!
 More on the lotta' odonata in the next post.  Hope you are having a nice weekend!

Check out more Nature Notes posts.
Thanks for hosting this meme, Michelle!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sky Watch Friday/Above the Clouds

My journey to Texas was underway
as my plane departed Logan Airport
in Boston under rainy skies. 
The majority of the ride was spent
cruising above a solid carpet of clouds.
As we crossed the miles along our
westward path, the clouds began
breakingup little by little, until
there were only tiny wisps to be
seen here and there.

I flew Southwest Airlines and it was a pleasurable experience, smooth going from the moment I entered the airport until I collected my luggage and met my ride.  Is this where I mention the beautiful, warm, sunshiny weather?  

Check out more SkyWatch Friday posts!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Into the Wild Blue Yonder

It's that time of year again
to take my cue from my feathered friends
and migrate south for the winter . 

Tomorrow I journey from New England
to San Antonio, TX
to sponge off  visit my daughter
for a few months. 

Heaven forbid I don't have something
to keep my little hands busy! 
Luckily, there are many sewing projects
that are perfect for travel,
and hexies are my first choice to occupy my time 
during this trip. 

I always keep hexies on the ready
and use them in many different projects
throughout the year.  I like to take the time
to embroider different centers onto each flower
to give the finished product
an extra special look.

While rummaging through
some old quilt magazines,
I came across this project
in the June 2001 McCalls Quilting
magazine.  I am a big fan of
Grandmother's Flower Garden,
but thought this might
be more manageable,
and a bit more challenging
to construct. 

This is what I've accomplished so far.  I couldn't resist the urge to begin sewing the flowers together, even though they weren't all constructed.  By the time my plane lands in TX, I'll have all the flowers completed, ready to add them on.  Too bad I'll have to visit a local quilt store to purchase fabric for the basket and background. 

While I'm on the subject
of flowers, I can't resist
showing this beautiful,
Massachusetts rose!
Now, off to put the finishing touches on packing!