Tag Archive | insect closeups

The Last Hummingbird

Not quite last, this very tired young hummingbird roosted on a broken sunflower stalk a couple of inches above the ground for hours on October second.

Not quite last, this very tired young hummingbird roosted on a broken sunflower stalk a couple of inches above the ground for hours on October 2nd. Intermittently he’d fly up and drink some nectar from the bountiful hummingbird mint, Agastache, that seemed to be a godsend for a lot of late birds. It’s still blooming! I’ve seen two more since this one, the latest last Wednesday, October 8th: a record in my 14 years taking note.

Not only the hummingbirds but bumblebees and wasps are enjoying the long-lasting blossoms of Agastache

Not only the hummingbirds but bumblebees and wasps are enjoying the long-lasting blossoms of this licorice-scented Agastache. 

IMG_3616

 

Sandhill cranes spiral up and out..

Sandhill cranes spiral and soar overhead on their raucous way south.

A lone monarch was lucky to find some nectar left on late-blooming Gallardia.

A lone monarch was lucky to find some nectar left in late-blooming Gallardia.

IMG_3898 IMG_3928

 

Snapdragons still blooming profusely are also providing late nectar for hummingbirds and bees, their colors and velvety texture keeping some hot spots in the garden’s yellowing autumn palette.

 

 

A honeybee seeking something along the turning leaf of the Amur maple beside the hive.

A honeybee seeking something along the turning leaf of the Amur maple beside the hive.

IMG_3700 IMG_3646

For a few weeks, rabbitbrush was buzzing...

For a few weeks, rabbitbrush was buzzing…

Saddlebags

Preparing for a show in spring, we’re naming all the bees again. This one is Saddlebags.

...and in photographing bees, I found this tiny little creature which appears to belong to a group called Micromoths.

…and in photographing bees, I found this tiny little creature which appears to belong to a group called Micromoths.

A honeybee hovered at a single late flax flower at my feet; I ran in to get the camera. In that one minute, the bee flew and its breeze blew four petals off the bloom.

A honeybee hovered at a single late flax flower at my feet; I ran in to get the camera. In that one minute, the bee flew and its breeze blew four petals off the bloom.

Checking on the medicinal herb I found this tiny white spider.

Checking on the medicinal herb I found this tiny white spider.

Garlic chives are the early October "bee-tree," swarming with honeybees, flies, and small wild bees...

Garlic chives are the early October “bee-tree,” swarming with honeybees, flies, and small wild bees…

IMG_3465

...and also appealing to a few moths.

…and also appealing to a few moths.

At Play in Fields of Bees

Beeplant and sunflowers grow with abandon in the hottest, driest part of the garden, a lush late summer banquet for bees and birds.

Beeplant and sunflowers grow with abandon in the hottest, driest part of the garden, a lush late summer banquet for bees and birds.

Rocky Mountain Beeplant, sown twenty years ago around the rustic trailer I used to inhabit, down where the Butterfly Bed is now. This wildflower blooms and seeds prolifically in areas where I let it, and seems content to do so. I pull stray seedlings when they're tiny, so easy they are to recognize, and let them flourish in certain spaces. Knowing what delight they'll bring in late summer, for honeybees, wild bees and hummers.

Rocky Mountain Beeplant, sown twenty years ago around the rustic trailer I used to inhabit, down where the Butterfly Bed is now, blooms and seeds prolifically in areas where I let it, and seems content to do so. I pull stray seedlings when they’re tiny, so easy they are to recognize, and let them flourish in certain spaces. Knowing what delight they’ll bring in late summer, for honeybees, wild bees and hummers.

They start to flower in late July and just keep on going, growing new blooms up and up the stalk, transforming downward into seedpods.

They start to flower in late July and just keep on going, growing new blooms up and up the stalk, transforming downward into seedpods.

IMG_2591 IMG_2368 IMG_2596 IMG_2519

 

These green-eyed, pollen-packed wild bees constantly prowl the sunflowers. Hey! Get off! This one's mine!

These green-eyed, pollen-packed wild bees constantly prowl the sunflowers. Hey! Get off! This one’s mine!

Despite not being in right relationship with the grasshoppers, I can recognize a striking composition when it's given.

Despite not being in right relationship with the grasshoppers, I can recognize a striking composition when it’s given.

And that pesky doe. Caught her in the act again, eating the last half dozen tomatoes this tired bush is likely to ripen. Just look at her! I can't begrudge her.

And that pesky doe. Caught her in the act again, eating the last half dozen tomatoes this tired bush is likely to ripen. Just look at her! I can’t begrudge her, though. She needs them more than I do.

But I can try to salvage a few bites for myself, so I gently spook her away. Next year I'll fence the food gardens, for sure.

But I can try to salvage a few bites for myself, so I gently spook her away. Next year I’ll fence the food gardens, for sure.

 

Full On Summer

IMG_0300 IMG_0345

Today the garden is full of yellows, oranges and greens, and full of buzzing bees. Summer is a full on ride, roller coaster or tilt-a-whirl, it’s hard to know; reeling through colors and days so full.

July arrivals in the garden, the variously colored Ratibida, or Mexican Hats, and an unusual, fast bee that flies with its tip up.

July arrivals in the garden, the variously colored Ratibida, or Mexican Hats, and an unusual, fast bee that flies with its tip up.

At first I blamed the damn deer for demolishing one of my Roma tomatoes, until I looked closer. Love the little manatee hands.

At first I blamed the damn deer for demolishing one of my Roma tomatoes, until I looked closer. Love the little manatee hands.

Why do you think they call it Hornworm?

Why do you think they call it Hornworm?

Little solitary bees work the tomato blossoms diligently.

Little solitary bees work the tomato blossoms diligently.

And at last, overnight, one of the Early Girls begins to ripen.

And at last, overnight, one of the Early Girls begins to ripen.

The new raised bed in the south yard grows squashes from Earth Friendly Farm.

The new raised bed in the south yard grows squashes from Earth Friendly Farm.

I transplanted them into walls-o-water, then implemented a trick I learned at a dinner party recently: keep the walls on longer than you'd think you need to, and turn them down into collars, to hold water better and protect the plants from wind.

I transplanted them into walls-o-water, then implemented a trick I learned at a dinner party recently: keep the walls on longer than you’d think you need to, and turn them down into collars, to hold water better and protect the plants from wind.

All the squashes are thriving.

All the squashes are thriving.

One of three visiting catahoulas, Jupiter, Last Son of Sundog, with Raven's birthday bunny, still remarkably intact six weeks later.

One of three visiting catahoulas, Jupiter, Last Son of Sundog, romps with Raven’s birthday bunny, still remarkably intact six weeks later.

I could not figure out what these tiny green beads were that the ants were so busy around. Husks of tiny beetles! What's up with that?

I could not figure out what these tiny green beads were that the ants were so busy around, scattered in clusters along the path through the woods. Husks of tiny beetles! What’s up with that?

Dragonflies are zipping all over the pond.

Dragonflies are zipping all over the pond.

 

The Roller Coaster

Bloody Mary with a lovage straw. This huge tropical-looking herb grows well in wet soil north of the pond, and its aromatic stalks are hollow, the perfect garnish.

Bloody Mary with a lovage straw. This huge tropical-looking herb grows well in wet soil north of the pond, and its aromatic stalks are hollow, the perfect garnish.

This Memorial Day Sunday, a week early if you ask me, has truly signaled the beginning of the roller coaster that is the summer season. Despite last night’s fresh snow on the mountains. We got half an inch of rain! It was great to wake up and not have to water anything; I had a pie to bake. After a kickoff brunch with Bloody Marys, arugula-ricotta-wild mushroom tart, veggie and homegrown-beef kebabs and venison ribs, fresh-picked wild asparagus, garden salad, and a homegrown-rhubarb pie with whipped cream, I returned home to my desk, and looked out the window to see a Bullock’s Oriole peering in at me. They winter in Central America and summer here; ergo, it must be summer! It’s a rare sighting, I’m lucky if I see one in a year. I hope he’ll stay around. I’ll buy an orange tomorrow, as incentive.

I’ve spent the past two weeks managing out-of-control weeds. Mustards, cheatgrass, and Poa bulbosa, my new nemesis, and many more, are rampaging through the yard sucking spring moisture from the ground, growing as fast as I can get them cut. But they tend to stay gone when they’re pulled by hand. Some zones in the garden get this special attention, while the farther edges of the yard get weed-whacked by Chris now and then. I have surrendered to the Bad Grass. All of it. I will never win. The bumper crop of Bulbosa this year finally made me throw in the towel. The best I can hope for, I’ve concluded, is to carve my paths through the bad grasses. Maybe a good approach to life in general. Live and learn. Never let someone else spread grass seed in your yard. Also, be careful of planting a perennial that someone tells you “can spread.”

“They love to look like each other,” said Katrina yesterday morning as she was pulling dwarf goldenrod shoots from among the Penstemon strictus shoots. I’m sure these two plants resemble each other even when they’re not mingled in the same bed, but the ones you want to get rid of seem to be able to look more like the ones you want to keep the more you try to get rid of them. Bindweed, for example. And these intransigent goldenrods: At the time I planted a one-gallon pot of this ornamental goldenrod I didn’t really understand the concept of “can spread.” Like many ornamentals they are just an attractive exotic invasive. I bought a grass the other day in a small pot, thinking it was a bunch grass. When I looked it up, sweet vernal grass, it turns out to be a problem weed in some parts of the country; it “can spread.” So that one will go in a pot for the summer and probably die next winter.

The past two weeks, days have either been cold and grey or been crazy with bees.

Nepeta everywhere is covered with bees of all kinds.

Nepeta everywhere is covered with bees of all kinds.

At least five kinds of bumblebees are feeding in the garden. When I get time, when the roller coaster slows a bit, I'll turn to the Bumblebee Guide and find all their names.

At least five kinds of bumblebees are feeding in the garden. When I get time, when the roller coaster slows a bit, I’ll sit down with my bumblebee images and the Western Bumblebee Guide and find all their names.

The sphinx moth is also attracted to Nepeta, and sometimes out in the morning.

The sphinx moth is also attracted to Nepeta, and sometimes out in the morning.

The Little Red Bumblebee, I call it...

The Little Red Bumblebee, I call it…

 

May 9, the bee tree was briefly the crabapple down by the pond.

May 9, the bee tree was briefly the crabapple down by the pond.

Honeybee on Fuji.

Honeybee on Fuji.

May 17, these caterpillars are crawling the walls all over Crawford. Covering the walkways, on every living thing, looking for a place to pupate. We hope they are innocuous salt-marsh caterpillars and will turn into benign white moths. We'll know more later!

May 17, these caterpillars are crawling the walls all over Crawford. Covering the walkways, on every living thing, looking for a place to pupate. We hope they are innocuous salt-marsh caterpillars and will turn into benign white moths. We’ll know more later!

Even Marrubium, the silver-leaf horehound, is covered with tiny flowers and intermittent bees.

Even Marrubium, the silver-leaf horehound, is covered with tiny flowers and intermittent bees.

IMG_2743

I let the dandelions grow on the fringes of the garden beds, on the edges of paths. They're an important early source for all the species of bees.

I let the dandelions grow on the fringes of the garden beds, on the edges of paths. They’re an important early source for all the species of bees.

I've only seen a hummingbird once at this scarlet gilia that sprang up in the spring border. I sometimes sit nearby and wait with the camera. One of these days...

I’ve only seen a hummingbird once at this scarlet gilia that sprang up in the spring border. I sometimes sit nearby and wait with the camera. One of these days…

Little mat daisies spread readily, beautiful and benign. I don't mind.

Little mat daisies spread readily, beautiful and benign. I don’t mind.

Their little white petals have pink candy-stripes on their undersides, making little red buds.

Their little white petals have pink candy-stripes on their undersides, making little red buds.

This little red fly also enjoys the mat daisies.

This little red fly also enjoys the mat daisies.

The first big iris opened a week ago. Two days ago this one popped and the little red bumblebees love it.

The first big iris opened a week ago. Two days ago this one popped and the little red bumblebees love it.

IMG_2600

Friday night's rain.

Friday night’s rain.

The bee tree yesterday was the Amur maple.

The bee tree yesterday was the Amur maple, which came as a surprise…

IMG_2640 IMG_2634

I expected it would be the lilac, but it took me three days to get three good shots of a bee on the lilacs, and three minutes to get three good shots of bees on the maple.

I expected it would be the lilac, but it took me three days to get three good shots of bees on the lilacs, and three minutes to get three good shots of bees on the maple.

IMG_2203

 

IMG_2539 IMG_2554

The first blue flax opened just a week ago, and now waves of this delicate flower flow through the garden feeding bees big and small.

The first blue flax opened just a week ago, and now waves of this delicate flower flow through the garden feeding bees big and small.

Mixed in with the flax and also in waves here and there through the garden, I let the native plains mustard grow where it will.

Mixed in with the flax and also in waves here and there through the garden, I let the native plains mustard grow where it will.

Pink chintz creeping thyme flowers between flagstones.

Pink chintz creeping thyme flowers between flagstones.

IMG_3115

All the bumblebees are all over the Ajuga blooms.

All the bumblebees are all over the Ajuga blooms.

This giant yellow bumblebee is twice the size of the little red one. Probably Bombus nevadensis, or morrisoni, but I'll have to study on that, compare things like tongue length and facial structure, count colored bands, all with the guide and images before me.

This giant yellow bumblebee is twice the size of the little red one. Probably Bombus nevadensis, or morrisoni, but I’ll have to study on that, compare things like tongue length and facial structure, count colored bands, all with the guide and images before me. Maybe I’ll print it and take it outside with the Papilio binoculars.

Unsettled weather. The days are a riot of ups and downs. Five days in a row of clouds and rain, then eighty degrees and shining sun for a week bake the ground. Carrots and beets emerged two days ago, and transplanted tomatoes and peppers hang on despite cold nights, while melons, zucchini, and more peppers and tomatoes in pots continue to come in at night. Arugula, parsley, lettuce and kale are popping up, and peas are two inches tall. I cling to the illusion of control in the wild ride of the summer garden. Soon the weeds will be tamed for the season, and before you know it harvest madness will be upon us. Let the party begin!

 

Words Fail Me

April 11

On April 11, the honeybees finally examined the hybrid tulips.

April 11

And I caught the elusive white butterfly.

April 11

The honeybees also started enjoying the creeping thyme.

April 14

April 14, that sweet snow decorated the forsythia.

Today the wind literally blows bees off the Nanking cherry as another spring snowstorm threatens. Inside for awhile, I catch up with images from the past two weeks.

April 17

April 17, the bumblebees showed up.

April 19

April 19, honeybees were all over the European pasqueflowers.

April 20

April 20. Surprise!

April 20

And a bigger surprise, the broad-tailed hummingbirds showed up five days early.

April 20

As the golden currant blossoms begin to open, the green (or blue?) bottle flies arrive.

April 20

Nanking cherry buds begin to burst open and the little native bees are among the first to partake.

April 21

April 21, dandelions begin to pop open throughout the yard.

April 21

Bumblebees and honeybees continue to sip at the almond blossoms.

April 22

April 22, the Nanking cherry calls all species of bees in the vicinity.

April 22

April 22

And begins to get crowded.

April 23

April 23: Meanwhile, down at the pond, the honeybees have found a sweet place in the reeds to sate their thirst.

April 24

On April 24, the Nanking cherry exploded with bees of all kinds, in clouds, drunk, like me perhaps, on all the pink beauty.

Count the bees and types of bees in this image. Spring wave of the roller-coaster is in full swing. On this day, the Colonel would have been ninety-five years old. I spent the entire day with one of his last gifts to me, my Canon 50D, in a pursuit he might have considered at one time in his life a waste of time; but he introduced me to cameras, and took great pleasure during our last visit looking through his album of special photos, seeking his personal best, a shot of a duck with water dripping off its beak. I think he would have liked these. Meanwhile, my days fly by so full I can’t keep up.

April 24

As the jonquils continue blooming the occasional bee investigates.

April 24

Prunus besseyi “Pawnee Buttes,” a ground-creeping variety of the western sandcherry, begins to draw bees.

April 24

“Pink Chintz” creeping thyme blooms.

April 24

Occasional native bees and honeybees check out this little rock-garden plant whose name I’ve forgotten.

April 24

Buff little bumblebee on the golden currant.

April 24

The frenetic beeflies are everywhere, on the sandcherry…

April 24

…the dandelions…

April 24

…and the omnipresent Nepeta

 

…the day began in cinders

The day began in cinders. All that was left of the morning's drama a few filthy tail feathers on the ground.

The day began in cinders; all that was left of the morning’s drama a few filthy tail feathers on the ground.

Yesterday’s smoke was so thick from neighbors clearing fields with fire that it kept me inside most of the day, even though it warmed up to 75. This morning it wasn’t so bad, just a singed aroma to the air.  So warm last night, fortunately, that I didn’t light a fire in the woodstove for the first time all year. Fortunately, I say! This morning the cat leapt onto the wall by the stovepipe and the dogs jumped barking out of bed all at once. I didn’t understand why at first, then heard the desperate skritching inside the pipe: a bird had somehow fallen in.

I put the dogs out and left the door open. My woodstove has a peculiar double ceiling, which might have made it easier. I lifted the griddle out of the lid to see a pile of creosote ash on top of the false ceiling. I reached my hand up into the chimney and felt feathers, startling both me and the bird, who flapped and scratched in a panic, billowing clouds of ash out the hole. The second time, knowing better, I covered the hole with a dog towel, reached under and into the pipe swiftly, and grabbed a fistful of feathers and a leg, pulled the bird down and out into the towel, and took it outside, letting it flap under the towel to clean itself off a little. In a minute I let go, pulled away the towel, and watched a young starling flap frantically away, leaving a half dozen sooty feathers in my hand.

Watering tools. Time to sort through all the connectors for my flexogen irrigation system. I've got the time, home in April, long cool days. All these accouterments make moving water so much easier.

Watering tools. Time to sort through all the connectors for my flexogen irrigation system. I’ve got the time, home in April, long cool days. All these accouterments make moving water so much easier.

Taking stock of hoses, measuring, assessing. Three hoses out of play this season with both ends bad on each; I'll snip off the ends of these, mail them to Gilmour, and get three free replacements. About the best garden deal I know of.

Taking stock of hoses, measuring, assessing. Three hoses out of play this season with both ends bad on each; I’ll snip off the ends of these, mail them to Gilmour, and get three free replacements. The best garden deal I know of.

It’s been so dry and windy, despite occasional spring snow showers, that it’s time to start watering all around the yard, trees and beds. Time to sort the hoses and lay them out around the garden, make sure all connections are secure and won’t waste water with leaks.

Still no bees in the red tulips, but a passel of blooms.

Still no bees in the red tulips, but a passel of blooms.

Almond blossoms opening against the warm stucco of the house.

Almond blossoms opening against the warm stucco of the house.

The new bee tree is the apricot.

The new bee tree is the apricot.

IMG_8052 IMG_7996

A bee fly if I'm not mistaken.

A bee fly if I’m not mistaken.

In quest of the elusive white butterfly, moving too fast for me to get close, flittering through the nepeta.

In quest of the elusive white butterfly, moving too fast for me to get close, flittering through the nepeta.

A tiny wild bee plastered in pollen in the mini yellow tulips.

A tiny wild bee plastered in pollen in the mini yellow tulips.

I love the way the honeybees dive in face first, deep into the corolla.

I love the way the honeybees dive in face first, deep into the corolla.

Keeping up with my goal of photographing bees on each new variety of flower as it blooms. This girl made my day.

Keeping up with my goal of photographing bees on each new variety of flower as it blooms. This girl made my day.

So I spent a pleasant morning, grateful for the one that got away, chasing bees and butterflies through the spring garden, then drove to Eckert to the frame shop to drop off a new print for a show next month in Salida, and to pick up a couple of framed giant bees for the Grand Opening tomorrow night of the Church of Art in downtown Hotchkiss. Slowly gearing up the first rise of summer’s roller coaster.

…through all kinds of windy weather

The crabapple tree in bud. I planted this sweet tree beside the grave of Little Doctor Vincent, one of the most amazing cats I've ever known.

The crabapple tree in bud. I planted this sweet tree beside the grave of Little Doctor Vincent, one of the most amazing cats I’ve ever known.

A lot has happened in the garden in the past few weeks. Many days were cold and windy, overcast or outright snowing. Little popcorn snowballs blustering in with a dark cloud, pounding down and coating everything quickly, and melting in an hour. The bees kept largely to themselves on days like that. The past few days have really felt like spring, though; waves of purple mustard splash across the ‘dobies between Delta and Hotchkiss, along the roadside from Hotchkiss up to Crawford. Sandhill cranes have all but completed their migration through here, just a stray spiral or vee of them now and then. Snow covers the mountain tops; all the summer brown fields and ‘dobie hills are green, lush or barely brushed. Soon the surprise of some of those rare wildflowers that bloom only once a decade or two may pop up in swaths of white or blue.

Forsythia in bloom a week ago one morning in a brief spring snow. I planted this forsythia in remembrance of my mother long before she died, knowing this day would come: she'd be gone and it's blossoms would remind me of her and eastern Easters.

Forsythia in bloom a week ago in a brief spring snow. I planted this forsythia in remembrance of my mother long before she died, knowing this day would come: she’d be gone and its blossoms would remind me of her.

Everything is full of promise, lifting my spirits with inordinate optimism. The river is muddy with snowmelt and the redtail hawk is sitting in her nest above the Smith Fork. Yesterday I watched her soar out of sight, circling slowly up and up, smaller with each revolution, a glint, a speck, a recollection. The bees, the bees are out around the grape hyacinths, blue and white; after snow two days ago the first little yellow tulips opened, their buds like almonds finally pushed up from underground and flowers spreading like the sun.

Tall coral tulips have been cross-pollinated with the splashy red short ones to produce a unique hybrid.

Tall coral tulips have been cross-pollinated with the splashy red short ones to produce a unique hybrid.

Blooming Veronica creeps across a sandstone slab.

Blooming Veronica creeps across a sandstone slab.

The years unroll, one season following another. Truer words were never sung. The golden currant is full of small bright green new leaves. All the columbines are up with their rounds of feathery foliage, daylily spikes are four to six inches tall. More Veronica blooms have opened, and Nepeta is taking over everywhere. Chicory keeps spreading its rosettes farther into the path. This garden gives me great delight. I broke back the Basin Wild Rye last evening and pulled a patch of bur buttercup, that precious nasty weed I took such care to spare the first year I saw it, decades ago. Some almond blossoms are already open up against the stucco house, the apricot’s about to burst; the first dandelion has bloomed and Nepeta is taking over everywhere.

Apricot buds ripening...

Apricot buds ripening…

...unfolding...

…unfolding…

...opening!

…opening!

The bee tree today is as thick with bees and flies and tiny undecipherable lives in the later stage of these clusters. I must come back with the camera when it’s less breezy.

The bee tree today is as thick with bees and flies and tiny undecipherable lives in the later stage of these clusters. I must come back with the camera when it’s less breezy.

I baked a halibut filet on top of some tender tarragon shoots the other night. Winter arugula is already sending up flower stalks in the covered garden, still feeding me several salads a week, and baby spinach will soon be ready to eat. Down at the pond a leopard frog emerged a few weeks ago. I’ve spooked it three or four times, and it spooked me when it splashed from the curly rush through the water, in one smooth arc, to bury itself in silt.

The resident leopard frog hides at the edge of the pond. I first spooked her weeks ago finger-combing the rushes, and still she sits there every day.

The resident leopard frog hides at the edge of the pond. I first spooked her weeks ago finger-combing the rushes, and still she sits there every day.

Sneaking up on her to catch a shot ~ such camouflage!

Sneaking up on her to catch a shot ~ such camouflage!

Another frog watches over European pasqueflower and iris shoots by the bottle wall.

Another frog watches over European pasqueflower and iris shoots by the bottle wall.

A greenbottle fly on grape hyacinth.

A greenbottle fly on grape hyacinth.

And a honeybee drinking deep in another.

And a honeybee drinking deep in another.

Though they've been blooming about a week today's the first time I've seen a bee at the white ones.

Though they’ve been blooming about a week today’s the first time I’ve seen a bee at the white ones.

From the songs in each of our individual heads, our unique threads, our song lines, springs the meaning in our lives.

The last cat, Brat Farrar, struggles through a health crisis, striving, like me, for balance.

The last cat, Brat Farrar, struggles through a health crisis, striving, like me, for balance.