Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Second Look--August 7, 2013

We've had a lot of rain off and on so I didn't get to do a good look at the lower part of the yard like I hoped. However, there was still plenty to see close to the house. The tiger lilies are gone and many of the butterflies have left with them, but not all. I haven't seen the monarch caterpillars for a couple of weeks, so I hope they have gone off to build a chrysalis. I've looked in the area a little, but there are enough shrubs, trees, and weeds around they could be anywhere. It seems as if the tussock caterpillar numbers are on the rise and they have been joined by milkweed bugs that are starting to hatch. I will say that the milkweed plants host a lot of interesting activity.

On the bird front, the other three sparrow eggs have not hatched and after a couple weeks, probably aren't going to. The lone baby is continuing to develop and has gotten some real feathers while the bluebird mother is still sitting on her eggs.  It seems like there is more activity at the feeder with both kinds and numbers of birds. However, I'm never quite sure if the numbers are increasing or I'm just watching at the right time.

Unfortunately, I have seen one house finch with conjunctivitis. This is a well known problem in the finch population and affects approximately 5-10% of them. What this means to me is that I need to clean my bird feeder with bleach to cut down on chance of spread. This is something that is recommended to be done every two weeks, but it doesn't happen that often here.

Here are some of the things I saw this week during a Second Look.

The surprise lilies came up this week. They are called surprise lilies because their leaves come up and die months before the flowers emerge.

This is the last variety of hosta to bloom this summer.

It's hard to make everything out in this messy sparrows nest, but notice the unhatched eggs and the feathers forming on the one baby.

These will turn into orange and black milkweed bugs.

Skipper Butterfly on Black-Eyed Susan

The downy woodpecker is one of the birds I'm seeing in greater numbers at the feeder. The red patch on the back of the head is the tell-tale sign that this one is a male.

Part of our shade garden with Japanese painted fern, hydrangea, lambs ear, and nettle. You can't see the  large hosta framing the sides (pictured above) or the teaberry growing underneath.

Freezer Jam

I love the taste of freezer jam because of how fresh the fruit tastes. I made some recently and it lasted exactly two days before I pulled it out of the freezer to eat. So much for fresh fruit taste in the middle of the upcoming winter. :)

If you haven't made freezer jam, give it a try because it is very easy. There is usually a recipe on the pectin box or try allrecipes for a recipe and technique.