Wildlife Wednesday: September 2016

monarch wisconsin

Tina’s Wildlife Wednesday is usually about our backyard visitors. So I guess this Monarch butterfly is a NIMBY. I saw her when we were in Wisconsin. By the time she meets up with us again in Texas her wings will probably be a little less pristine.

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I haven’t been very good about taking photos lately so I went for a walk to find something … anything … for Tina’s blog event.

And … tra la … I stumbled upon my first bumblebee! It was bigger than a carpenter bee and not nearly as busy. Why is it so hard to photograph black things! ugh.

Oh well. I’m not caring too much about the crummy photo because just seeing the bee was a thrill. The American Bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) is a threatened species. I found it near my local creek where many of its host plants grow. As the fall planting season approaches I’ll be thinking of what I can add to my garden to encourage the local population.

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That walk resulted in a rare life form double feature. The plant that attracted the bee is also a protected species: a Clematis pitcheri vine. I found it growing in a public space. Hopefully people will let it grow in peace.

inside-the-clematis

It sure looks like a rich bee plant. No wonder that bee wasn’t in a hurry.

 

Twice now in the past couple of years flood water has broken over the creek’s banks. The vegetation was flattened; a lot of green was scoured away leaving behind a border of seemingly lifeless mud. I admit I was worried about the creatures who live on and around the area.

Floods can be terribly destructive. Someone described the latest flood in Louisiana as a once in a 1000 year event. Devastating. But I am learning that floods aren’t inevitably cataclysmic.

Good urban planning can allow water to be a healing force for the land. I am grateful for the work the City of Austin did to make our creek safer. They accomplished this not by channelling water away but by allowing it to safely slow down long enough for native plants and trees to contain and wick it away.

What a difference a bit of time makes. What seemed like a mini-disaster last year was really prep work for a new canvas. Fresh silt, new seeds and broken vegetation have totally revitalized the creek area. Not only are new flowers like the wild clematis popping up but some of my old favourites like the widow’s tears and wild petunia have become abundant where they were once spare. That abundance and diversity in turn has led to new creatures like the bumblebee showing up.

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29 thoughts on “Wildlife Wednesday: September 2016

  1. Beautiful images .. Bumbles are often hard to photograph. We have loads of them in our garden, such great pollinators. I was surprised to hear that the are in dwindling number in the US .. What a shame! Flooding sure can be devastating ..

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  2. I was so surprised to read that C. pitcheri is a protected species. It’s one that I frequently find in the wild, along with C. crispa and C. texensis( the scarlet leatherflower. )They’re among my favorite plants, and right now the purple leatherflower is climbing all over things in my nearest nature preserve. Perhaps they thrive better along the coast?

    In any event, your photos are wonderful. I saw some bumblebees this weekend. It’s hard not to laugh at their antics as they bury themselves in the flowers.

    Your comment about the positive aspects of floods is on point, too. I thought immediately of fire — so necessary for the health of prairies. As for flooding — there’s a reason the floodplains of the world are so fertile.

    Lovely post.

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    1. Thanks so much. It sounds like you are -blessed- with abundance. I don’t know if the growing conditions are better where you are or if there might be other factors at play. In Travis county the land has been disturbed for human use at a level that is hard to accept. I’ve seen estimates of anywhere between 95-99 percent of the land. Wild spaces are rare, rare, rare. Truly wild and indigenous plants even more so. Our neighbourhood’s control of the creek to allow it to re-wild has taken dedication and years of effort. I am so grateful for my neighbours’ expertise and hard work. I’ve only lived here for about 16 years but the changes I have witnessed have been really wonderful to behold.

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    2. Ah, the fine print about it’s protected status. When you mentioned how common it was in your area I had to do a double check. It is listed as protected at the USDA site and Dave’s but only in the state of Indiana. Hopefully, that means it is safe here in Texas.

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    1. Thx bettyl. Just like us I am sure some suffer terribly while others manage to luck out. I’d like to learn more about what happens to the turtles. Do they just go with the flow (which isn’t all that gentle) or do they try to seek higher ground at the first opportunity. I spotted a new turtle recently and wonder if came with all that flood water.

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  3. Your photos are lovely. I like the bumblebee too. It looks like pooh with his head in the honey jar. A great narrative too about flood recovery. Mother nature has an amazing ability to heal if she’s given a chance :-)

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  4. Thanks for sharing your monarch and bee sightings, Debra! Yay! And good news about your creek.
    I think we are beginning to better understand the earth’s renewal processes like flood and fire. Allowing them in manageable ways creates a better environment. I just read ‘A New Wild’ by Fred Pearce. It totally opened my mind towards earth’s environmental evolution. You might like it. If you read it, I’d love to know what you think of it.

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  5. Lovely pictures, Debra. :) The clematis pitcheri looks like a beautiful flower. Bumblebees can be very tricky things to photograph. I hope you manage to attract more of them into your garden – the bees need all the help they can get!

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  6. I love the color of the Clematis pitcheri vine, and bubble bees are just so darn cute! I know the word is out but we need plants for pollinators in every garden : ) We have had a lot of damage from both rain and flooding. It is hard on plants and we have had many drown! Hoping for a let up in the rain : )

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    1. That vine can be pretty variable. I’ve seen pictures where it looks a lot more pink. I think y’all in Houston are getting a lot more rain than us. Stay safe.

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  7. Thank you for visiting! An absolutely gorgeous purple clematis – I’ve only seen the round ones. I don’t think your shot of the bee is crummy -I love the angle – don’t put yourself down:):) Hopefully the floods will recede soon…

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  8. Absolutely drooling over your photos!! And I want a C. pitcheri and have for a while. You’re so right that proper ‘flood management’ is a boon for the wildscape and I’m glad that your area is benefiting from the work.

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    1. Thx Tina. That plant has been on my list forever too. I keep worrying someone is going to come along and dig it up. We’ve had poaching happen there before so it is a real threat.

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