Friday, December 2, 2011

You Can Never Get Too Much Nature!

I sat down to transfer my pictures from my camera and noticed quite a few pictures of our local wildlife that I have collected in the last month or two, so I thought I would share.  Below is a white egret.  He is scoping out the shrubs in the neighbor's yard, looking for lizards.  Shortly after this picture was taken he grabbed for something.  Not sure if he was successful or not. 


Below is a polka-dot wasp.  Even though it is called a wasp, it is actually a moth.  The desert rose plant on my front porch became infested with caterpillars that were killing every single leaf on the plant.  I began to wage a daily war on them to try to save my plant.  I couldn't bring myself to kill the caterpillars, but I would flick them off the plant and hoped they would not return.  Each time I flicked them off, fewer of them made it back.  After a while, the girls decided they wanted to bring in a couple of the caterpillars to watch them go through their metamorphosis.  We looked up the caterpillars to see what they were, placed them on the counter in our bug box, and watched.  About three weeks later, we had adults.  Below is a picture of one of our moths before we released it. 

No real story to go with this guy.  He is just a little spider I saw as I was walking through the back yard.  He is called a crablike spiny orb weaver.  He is not as big as he looks......if you notice he is sitting on a blade of grass.

This is a Mediterranean gecko.  He hangs out on our screen on the back porch sometimes at night catching bugs.  It is not too unusual to see them on the walls of houses around here, but it is always a treat.  Unfortunately, our puppy found this little guy first, and Allison had to rescue him. That is why he is missing his tail.   

Here is a real treat.  This is a Crested Caracara.  It is actually the national bird for Mexico, but they can also be found in southern Florida.  I am not aware that they migrate, but we usually only see these guys around here in the winter months.  They are pretty big birds, standing about two feet tall.  Every time we see them, we see two.  I wonder if we see the same pair from year to year.

When we first moved into this house, we saw Mallard ducks frequently on the lake behind us.  For the past few years they have been noticeably absent.  This year we have seen some around from time to time.  Last weekend we had a male swimming around with nine females.  He was really busy trying to keep them all in line.  His ladies were not good listeners, and by the time I got this picture, most of them had headed off on their own. 

Nest we have the ibis.  These guys are around all the time, and in this case there were about fifteen of them marching through the neighbor's backyard.  If you look close, you can see there are a couple of black ones in the middle of the picture.  They are immature birds and will turn white as they mature.  Like a lot of the big birds here, they are not too fearful of people and will let you get pretty close before they take flight.  This drives my dogs crazy!  They love to chase these birds when we go on walks.   

This little softshell turtle was found in our pool.  Mike noticed him swimming around in there one morning.  Allison was still in bed, and Mike yelled to her upstairs to come catch this little guy.  She broke the land speed record getting down stairs and out on the back porch!  Wish I could get her up that easy every morning. 

I saved the cutest for last.  These three little guys were born in our neighbor's flowerbed.  The kids discovered them while they were still hairless little black blobs.  We got the joy of watching them over a period of about two weeks.  Boy, did they grow fast!  It was so hard to stay away from them and to keep the kids from touching them.  The blanket pieces surrounding the babies in this picture were courtesy of the neighbor.  She was worried the bunnies would be too cold one chilly night.  I am guessing mom new how to keep them warm, but it was hard not to worry about the little guys.  The last we saw, they were venturing out of the nest and getting around pretty quickly.  I hope they made it!  Not that we need anymore bunnies in the neighborhood.  We see at least three on every walk in the summer evenings.  The dogs love to try to chase them too!   

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