Sunday, May 29, 2011

Down Right Crabby---With Salsa!

After a hard week at school, I wanted to start out our three-day weekend doing something  special. So after an easy supper, B and I dozed on the porch and then took an evening drive down to the lighthouse to the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. This is a place we go over and over to enjoy nature's bounty in our area. 

We had not been since March for one reason or another. The kindly gentleman who we were accustomed to greeting us at the gate was not there, as we knew he would not be. At the end of March, he had been murdered in his home, no doubt defending his daughter and her child from an intruder (who was the father of the baby.) It was a tragic event that rocked all who heard about it and especially those who knew him. A memorial has been placed at his post at the gatehouse.

It is mating time for the fiddler crabs and they were out in the thousands and probably millions. We first noticed them when some "kids"  hopped out of their Jeep to photograph them beside the road. Just yards further, the crabs were in the road, in numbers. We walked out to the little beach on the east side of the lighthouse and, sure enough, they were all along the shore.

The darkened area on the beach that is not the sea rack is a wave of crabs. This is looking first east and then west.

The crabs were on both sides of the Spartina grass that lines the shoreline there.

The sound of the crabs skittering in the Spartina could be easily heard above the wind.
And who knew that fiddler crabs like bubble baths?

Up on the drier areas, were many crab holes but I was not sure if these were crab holes.  These do not have the customary little balls of sand around them, so I think these might have been made by the willets that were nesting nearby.

Here are two males, sorting things out. (The females do not have the large claw.)

My guess is that with fiddler crabs, "size matters."

But take a look at this face on this crab.

You may have to click on the picture above to look at the "face"  on the crab's face. Can you see a resemblance?
Oh, well. Is my imagination running away with me again? I saw it immediately.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mrs. G, the Green Anole

We have lots of green anoles at our school. From time to time, one will find our garden sign a place it wants to hang out. Eighteen pairs of eyes don't miss much. Kindergartners never miss a "lizard" sighting. Recently, one of the kids named the sign sunner, "Mrs. G."

Mrs. G really has lovely coloring and texture. Try clicking on the picture to see if it will enlarge.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bug Out!

When we were touring down at Tiger Creek, we came across this curious bug trap.

I love the design  of the apparatus. It looked very easy to set up with the flexible supports and the little clip-system on the "tent." We talked to a volunteer who was coming to turn on the light for the evening to attract whatever bugs were about.  In the photo below, you can see the pinkish attractant inside the trap. The bugs fly in but cannot get back out. 

Researchers are tracking the species of bugs collected and the dates, as well as other information, such as weather conditions.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Just Wondering

Watching the fireflies in our yard, I just have to wonder:

when the right species finally find each other, do they mate in the dark or do they leave a light on?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Garden Party

This past Sunday evening, we had our friends over for a garden party. They brought fried chicken to go with our dishes prepared using food we have just harvested.
Sugar snap peas, coleslaw, zucchini muffins, basalmic cucumber-tomato-corn salad and squash stir-fry left  us all full.

A large vase full of zinnias from the garden  brightened up the table.

The weather was perfect, with the delightful temperatures after the rain went through on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Knock On Wood!

It is not unusual to see and hear pileated woodpeckers in our yard. Recently, we have been observing one or more knocking on our neighbors' boat barn.

I am always amazed at the strength  of such a large bird. See  how it is  hanging off the side  of the roof by using its claws and stiff tail feathers? I have said, "I'm hanging on by my fingernails!" but that wasn't  what I meant. I am pretty sure that I could not accomplish such a feat with my hands or my feet. And then there is the whole "banging my head against the wall" thing. I don't usually do that literally, as  woodpeckers do.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mailbox Monday: Mule-Powered

We came upon this ironwork mailbox in Grady County which is home  to Calvary Georgia where each November the area honors mules. The festival, called Mule Day, draws large crowds from all over for a parade and arts/crafts and food festival. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011


We seem to have acquired a rabbit. In the evenings for the past week, we see it hopping slowly around in the same area in our fenced-in backyard. It is probably one of the more safe yards, as we have no cats or dogs. Our surrounding neighbors all have these pets. At this point, it just seems to be eating little plants in the grass, with a preference for dollarweed. If it starts on my flowers, we will have to figure out a way to discourage it, but for now, it is kind of charming to eat our salad and watch a bunny nibbling its salad, too. It is getting closer and closer to the screen porch. Pictures through the screen are not good. These I took standing in the yard.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Crow Can Be a Bully

It was a cool morning and this hawk was perched in the top of this dead tree, enjoying the sun's warmth.
Then along came a crow. B and I watched as the crow harassed it. It dove on it repeatedly.

What a bully!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Monster Moccasin

We went for a ride in south Georgia on Mother's Day, something that the price of gas has delayed for some time now. We took the state atlas and the GPS and headed off to get ourselves lost on roads we had never seen. Well, most of the time we were actually on roads B knows and are familiar to me, though for the life of me, I don't have a picture in my head of how they all fit together. Every time we go, B takes a different order to the route and, frankly, I am looking out the window, not at the maps.

And so it was that we saw a turkey cross in front of us and turned down the dirt road to see if we could "head it  off at the  pass." We didn't; it stayed invisible in the woods. But we stopped on a bridge over a wetland to see what was going on there. We saw a pileated woodpecker and a great blue heron flying. I said to B, "There should be turtles down there---and a moccasin." As soon as I had finished speaking, he said, "There is a moccasin!"
And what a monster!  It was as thick as my wrist.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

700 Flowers

A dear co-worker, who serves as our assistant principal, is retiring after this school year. She had requested that no fuss be made and an effort was made to respect that wish. A party was given in her honor week before last. A new camellia garden was planted and dedicated in her name, as she is a lover of flowers and grows many varieties of camellias at her home. As she was led from the party to see the garden, staff members lined the sidewalk, in salute to her. All along the way, were paper flowers attached to sticks and put in the class gardens. Each flower had been made for her by one of the children in the school. All had names and some had notes to her and they were each unique. It was  very sweet.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

First Harvest, First Thanksgiving

We brought in our first harvest this week: a basket  of yellow squash, two zucchinis, a large cucumber, five banana peppers,  a basket of garden peas and 80 zinnias.

I kept 50 of the zinnias and gave away 30 to a friend for Mother's Day. From the 50, I made two bouquets and took one to school for the office counter.
B stir-fried the peas and I roasted squash, zucchini, onion and peppers and we ate well for supper. We are thankful for the bounty.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The New Round Flowerbed

We have found ourselves overrun with zinnias and marigolds that have popped up from last year's seeds that dropped. The little seedlings have come up throughout the vegetable garden. It is a nice problem.

I have been digging up the ones that are on the walking paths and those growing much too densely and putting them in flats of eighteen. Probably close to a hundred have been transplanted at this time. I have taken some to school and given some away to family.

In an effort to have more at home, B dug out the lawn in the backyard and created a new round bed. 

It is about 7 feet in diameter.

We transplanted coreopsis into the middle, zinnias in a ring out from that and marigolds around the perimeter. That was a few weeks back and now the first blooms are beginning.

So far, so good.

Friday, May 6, 2011


We were riding in the Polaris at Tiger Creek Preserve when our son said, "Keep going, and then stop!" Our driver did so and we all walked back just a bit to see what he had spotted. It was a large colony of honeybees that were making a hive in a tree fork.

The bees were very active.

My camera has a 12x zoom but I could smell the honey from where I stood.

That was a lot of bees!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Touring Tiger Creek

Recently, we had the great pleasure of having a guided tour of the Tiger Creek Preserve, a managed area of The Nature Conservancy in central Florida. We rode in style.
This  Polaris is the only way to get around the 5,000 acres and see the property well. It was  fun, too! Our competent driver never once got us stuck in either muddy muck or soft sand.

It is mostly oak and pine scrub with a subtle charm all its own.

We saw pawpaws blooming.

Scrub-jays are relatively abundant there and I went hoping to see one. We caught a glimpse of one as it flew over us but then it quickly disappeared into--what else?--the dense scrub alongside the trail. We did hear others.

We were more successful with bald eagles. We saw two nests; both were vacant.

Here is a closer look.
Under the pine were the left-overs from previous dinners: this from a bird and others from fish.
Here is the second nest.
This one looked to be a bit larger.
We caught sight of the young eagles as they practiced their flying maneuvers. They were just getting some of the lighter feathers and sometimes looked more like vultures, but they were immature eagles alright.

Close observation will yield their yellow feet and the heavy bills.

The eagle pictures are courtesy of our son with the great camera and excellent photography skills.

I thought the dead tree below had such an interesting form.

We came upon this hog trap. Wild hogs do so much harm to the environment by rooting up native plants and creating erosion  problems.
It was a wonderful adventure and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There is one more thing to tell, but it deserves its own story.