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.

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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.