Yellopig Is Free

Or, Recreating A Life From Scratch

Archive for the category “Critters”

Just Give Me a Box of Dirt…

Next to my front door, there is a small flower box sunk into the concrete of the patio. I have tried to have pretty growing things there, but the location isn’t very nice for plants. For one thing, the garage wall on the south side means that this spot gets very little light all through the springtime. By late May or early June, the sun finds its way onto the patio, and then the spot becomes a blazing inferno. There are trees just to the west, but they aren’t very tall, and don’t provide any shade until just before the sun sets.

So of course, I planted some strawberries there. Six of them. I dug up the dirt, added some soil amendment and compost, and watered them every other day. Five of them died immediately. But one hung on, survived a summer, and then a winter, and then a little more summer, and it was looking a bit tall and spindly, but I kept hoping it would bush out a little with the increased sunshine.

Well it was summer, and it was brutal as always, but the little strawberry plant kept going. The frequent watering kept the dirt loose and cool(-ish) and although it never changed very much, it seemed comfortable there, if not overly enthusiastic. I thought that it might all work out.

Then one afternoon, I heard scritching and scratching coming from the area near the front door. I know that a bird was nesting on one of my porch lights, but this sounded more massive. And so it was. I grabbed my camera. That nice cool(-ish) bed of dirt seemed attractive to one of the critters that pass through the yard on a semi-regular basis. This is what happened to my planter with the strawberry:

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So the strawberry is no more. Looking behind me, I see the culprit, skulking off:

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Miscreant javalina

At the bottom right of that picture you see a low wall, which surrounds the entry space in front of the patio. At that corner of the wall, I have one of those little solar-powered path lights. As the javelina got to the wall, it turned and looked at me, as if hurt that I had turned it out of its cool wallow. Then it turned its head slightly, and found itself looking directly at my little path light. Which it then knocked over. And then it looked back at me, as if to say “So there! Take that!” And then it walked away.

Well, the strawberry wasn’t looking like it would have fruit anytime soon anyway. Maybe I’ll try some nice flowers there again…

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More Monsoon Critters, Summer 2015

Ah, sporadic sunshine! Now give us a couple of days to dry out… In the meantime, I have more pictures of the critters.

One afternoon, I saw this Rustic Sphinx moth (Manduca rustica). It had probably just emerged from its cocoon and was drying off on a pillar of the back patio. From its head to the back edge of its wings, it was a little more than 3 inches long, and its body was as long and a bit fatter than my little finger — so quite a big moth!

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Summer Monsoon Butterflies, 2015

The summer monsoon has been very wet this year and that means bugs, and lots of them. Whenever I step outside I am immediately covered in tiny gnats. They seem particularly interested in my ears. Getting bugs in my ears is another reason I prefer the drier parts of the year. It’s also why I’m keeping two bats behind the thermometer on the patio instead of just one like I usually do. Well okay, there’s no volition on my part keeping them there; the bats seem to like that spot, and they seem healthy and well-fed. It’s been crowded there behind the thermometer: there are also two lizards that have so far managed to avoid the hungry roadrunner that I hear every day clattering in the yard.

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Summer Critter Roundup 2015

Well, I have to clear out the critter clutter now, because with the real arrival of the monsoon rains, a whole new crop of them has emerged.

So this first picture has been the hold-up all along. I found this Arizona Walkingstick (Diapheromera arizonensis) sitting upright on the wall. But an upright picture doesn’t work well here, and it took almost forever for me to get around to rotating the picture.

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The Birds and the Bee Mimics

I know what that sounds like, but I only have a few pictures and none of them are even slightly risqué. Those of you who accidentally stopped in for something else are invited to stay and take a moment to look at the critters. 😀

I think I’ve mentioned that it’s been a wet(ish) spring. In fact it has rained twice more, just since the last time I complained about it. I’m starting to wonder how we’ll know when the summer monsoon starts if it just keeps raining? And that reminds me of the Country-Western song “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?” I know, I know, Climate Change, el niño and all that, but overcast days make me sad.

These birds are not helping. They’re White-winged doves (Zenaida asiatica).

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December Roadrunner

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Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), glaring at his reflection in the window, during an argument he thought he was having.

Beneficial Pests

When it rains in the desert it’s like an alarm going off, and then suddenly everything happens all at once. Billions of eggs are laid, billions of seeds germinate, the daytime air is one long buzz and the night is filled with creaks and croaks and hoots. And those baby critters all arrive hungry!

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The Critters of Summer

It doesn’t take long for the summer monsoon weather to get to me. It’s hot, it’s muggy, and a million weeds have taken over the front yard. It’s the “muggy” part that I hate most; I really prefer early June, when it’s hotter but the humidity is almost non-existent.

Out the back windows, where last month I saw a river of rainwater sluicing through the yard, there are now tall grasses — like an instant prairie. Where did all that come from? The white-tailed bucks have moved on, and now I have a single doe who grazes through the yard once or twice a day. I haven’t seen any javalinas for months, but the other ruminants are having a fine feast. Cottontails that, earlier this year, managed to squeeze themselves under the garden fence won’t fit through anymore, and that’s a fine thing. They hadn’t managed to get through the hardware cloth around the garden bed, and the buried chicken wire prevented them going under it (although they tried), so that much was a success.

Here’s a hare that would never have fit in or under the fence:

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Spring Critter Roundup 2014

It’s easy to take pictures of flowers — they don’t move around much, and don’t seem to mind when I come around pointing my camera at them. Critters are a different story. They’re usually shy, and for some reason they seem to find me a bit frightening, LOL. My trick for getting pictures of the most timid ones is… Reflector-filmed windows, Ha!

So one recent morning, I opened the blinds to find there had been some new excavations in the front yard. Caught in the act!

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Deer Identification

Deer are the other critters that I love to see in the yard, but which may become problematic when the yard has people-food growing in it. Read more…

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