Spring butterfly surprise

I had a few butterfly chrysalises from last fall and kept them in the garage all winter. This week I decided it was time to put them outdoors. The next morning, about 10 a.m, I noticed a black swallowtail butterfly had just emerged! The yellow dots indicate it’s a male.

Black Swallowtail 3-27-16Springtime includes many surprises, and a newly emerged butterfly is certainly one of them. I look forward to seeing what other discoveries this season holds.

A cute spider?

Yes, I think it’s ‘cute’. I first saw it about a week ago on the back of a dining room chair and again today on our kitchen cabinet. It’s a zebra spider (Salticus scenicus) and is quite small (about ½ inch). According to Wikipedia, they are common throughout the Northern hemisphere and are often found near humans – in dwellings or gardens.

Cute fuzzy zebra spider

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Gold in the Garden

When I saw these crocuses blooming on the 3rd day of February, I felt like I had discovered nuggets of gold. I’ve never before had garden flowers this early.

Yellow crocuses
I’m amazed that something that appears so delicate can survive our below-freezing temperatures, but they seem to take the cold in stride. The blossoms close tightly at night, but open and seem to glow on sunny afternoons. Thanks be for nature’s February gold!

Big snow and birds

We’ve had a snowy weekend in the Bluegrass with about 10 inches of ‘white stuff,’ and it’s been good to stay indoors and enjoy our backyard birds. It’s got to be a challenging time for these small feathered creatures, considering the cold temperatures and difficulty finding food. We do what we can to help by providing water, safflower, sunflower, millet seeds, and suet.

Male cardinal and whitet-hroated sparrowBrilliant male cardinals are especially showy against the white snow. White-throated sparrows aren’t as striking, but are always welcome winter residents.

We see a wide variety of birds and enjoy all of them. The water and food we provide seem small payment for the winter entertainment we receive.

Solstice surprise

After an early morning rain, some of the backyard trees and shrubs glistened with raindrops. With camera in hand, I decided to take a closer look. I didn’t have much luck capturing images of the raindrops, but in the process I happened to notice the amazing colors in the wet bark of our baldcypress tree (Taxodium distichum).

trunk of bald cypress tree Continue reading “Solstice surprise”