Yard roundup


Mockingbirds and curlytail lizards were among the featured guests in the garden this week. But only the curlytail brought me flowers.


Northern curlytail lizard

Northern curlytail lizard

The namesake tail of the Northern curlytail lizard

And there he goes. ....


A tabby cat named Hootie

I have been kitty-sitting this week for two cats that I love --- Sugarbear (who is the sister of Lil Red Buttons, and the daughter of PBJ) and Hootie, her housemate who leads me to the cabinet where her crunchies are stored each time I visit (just in case I forgot where the special treats were hidden). I thought I would share some pics of these special kitties.

Sugarbear the cat

A tabby cat named Hootie

A tabby cat named Hootie

A tabby cat named Hootie

A tabby cat named Hootie

Hootie says: "No more photos please. I need my beauty sleep."

A future monarch

Monarch chrysalis hanging from banana plant

Because I planted so many seeds recently, I love checking out the garden after the rain. Seeds I planted just a few days ago have already sprouted ... and butterfly chrysalides are hanging like ornaments from the plants. This one has all the makings of a monarch butterfly inside of it. Hopefully I will get to see it emerge.

Fluffly little dove

Fluffy dove in South Florida

Remember when that Prisma filter app came out and I loved it so? Well, I still enjoy playing with it. The only reason I don't use it so much anymore is that I get lost in the time-consuming world of possibilities, but it's a fun thing to do on a rainy night so here's a Prisma-filtered shot of a fluffy little dove I photographed in the garden this week.

The Muscovy life

A Muscovy duck on a South Florida lake

Five years ago, I knew nothing about Muscovy ducks .... and then I relocated to a place with a small lake that many Muscovies call home. The ducks were not shy about approaching me and introducing themselves, and I've since learned much about them and how they live.

One of the things I've witnessed is their tendency to hang out in packs of around 7 ducks that operate as a tiny community with its share of squabbles and issues. Despite their differences, they tend to -- for the most part -- bed down together at day's end in one spot alongside the lake.

Within their unit, there always seems to be one male duck who is in charge and he's typically surrounded by the female ducks in that small group ... perhaps in part because he chases all other male ducks away from them as needed. It's a big job that he seems to take very seriously.

If you've ever witnessed Muscovy ducks mating, you may understand why female ducks might want this sort of protection.

The duck pictured above, who I have come to call Gravy Train, has been the "duck in charge" for awhile now ... but he seems to have an apprentice, a duck (pictured below) who is training for the position of top duck. 

Up-and-coming top duck on a South Florida lake

I have been seeing the younger duck above since he was about three-inches tall. Initially, I would see Gravy Train trying to chase him off as he grew up ... but now he lets him hang - at least on the outskirts - possibly because it's exhausting to continuously attempt to stop a duck who is trying so very hard to be a part of something. Or perhaps because these ducks are so inter-connected and he has a soft spot for the younger duck (who may be his offspring).

These are the things I think about while watching the neighborhood ducks. This -- and the fact that I wish female ducks could become empowered enough to have a more satisfying life ... one which did not involve becoming beholden to male ducks for protection or sitting on nests for weeks on end only to give birth to adorable chicks which are typically stolen from them and eaten by predators.

It just seems like such an incredibly hard -- and heartbreaking -- life. 

Ibis flash mob

Ibis in the Flamigno Pond at Flamingo Gardens

When the Ibis flash mob descends upon the flamingo pond at Flamingo Gardens.

Flamingo dreams

Flamingo sleeping at Flamingo Gardewns

There are few things more calming than watching the namesake birds at  Flamingo Gardens in Davie. 

Here is a movie I made of the flamingos awhile back. It's called Flamingo Dream.

The curious wood stork

If I could be privy to the thoughts of any one winged creature, it just might be the wood stork. They strike me as birds who are keenly observing and amused with the world that surrounds them.

After the rain

I feel like that big rain yesterday brought something really good. Suddenly everything seems greener and I'm seeing more growth in the garden, even in just one day ... and there were so many more little fish swimming in the water.

I also saw a very excited heron making its way around the lake, as well as a limpkin, no doubt looking for apple snails. Meanwhile, zebra longwings fluttered all around the garden, and dragonflies were abundant by day's end.

The photo above depicts one of two dragonflies I spotted at the end of the day. I am still thinking about those wings.

And here's another dragonfly  that was hanging around the garden.

The chrysalides

I currently have 5-6 chrysalides hanging on one passion vine in the garden. Some contain future zebra longwing butterflies while others hold gulf fritillaries. Up close, they're amazing ... Some resemble a series of faces and little windows that reflect the light that surrounds them.

Even viewed upside down, the chrysalides are impressive. They're like entirely new creatures ... with antlers.

Bottlebrush on the street

I first came to Florida when I was 12 and visiting a sibling who had a bottlebush tree in their yard. Recently I've begun seeing these trees again -- first at Flamingo Gardens and more recently on a morning walk. This morning, I walked that same route but the bottle brush blooms seemed to be waning ... and then I looked downward and found that they had simply found a new location to grace with their beauty.

Zebra emerging

Taking photographs always reminds me of the cycles of nature. Today there are at least 5-6 chrysalides on one passion vine.

Last May, I photographed many zebra longwing butterflies emerging from their chrysalides on this plant .

Because I'm still in the process of organizing some of those photos on Flickr, I'm just now reviewing some of them. I particularly like this one where the zebra longwing is, for the very first time, viewing life outside the chrysalis as a winged creature. Doesn't its eye look just like a tiny soccer ball?

I am always so happy to see one of these break out, even more so when I had the honor of watching them form the chrysalis from which they emerged.

Rise above

When the noise of this world becomes too loud, rise above it.

Grand opening

Another grand opening this morning. Now there are two passion flowers in the garden.

The Lion King and her mom

The ever-mellow PBJ and her giant sleeping baby a.k.a. The Lion King (or Lil Red Buttons).

The passionate passion flower

Six days ago, my passionvine produced the very first passion flower in my garden. The next day, perhaps exhausted from all of the beauty it put forth, it pretty much closed up shop. Today, it opened again and was even more beautiful than the first time I saw it.

It seems that passion flowers have moods -- or at least this one does. As I stood there admiring it, I noticed the next bloom on the vine. I think it may open tomorrow morning ... you know ... if it feels like it.

I am so loving the passion flower.

My friend Charles

This is Charles, my mechanic, checking my tire pressure earlier today. He swears he wasn't up there to stalk other living things that might be running up and down the driveway and assures me that my tire pressure is just dandy. Of course I want to believe him ... because he looks pretty trustworthy, right?

Caterpillar journey

This gulf fritillary caterpillar was wandering on the passion vine. I believe it was looking for a starting point for the next step in its journey. I hope the caterpillar chooses wisely. Chrysalides have been disappearing and a very vocal blue jay is the main suspect.

Letting go

I love how caterpillars shed their past skin in order to begin anew ... but not without stopping to reflect on it first.

Caterpillars on passion vine

Zebra longwing and gulf fritillary caterpillars have much in common, such as their love for the passion vine.

A tale of two tabbies

My two very favorite kitties, PBJ and Lil Red Buttons (mother and daughter), cuddling ...

... and watching squirrels on a rainy morning.

Beach hours

As much as I love the warmth of the sun, my skin no longer welcomes it. But I find that enjoying a few beach hours in the very late afternoon/early evening has a charm all of it's own.

A perfect end to a perfect weekend.

Imagining the future

Gulf fritillary caterpillar focusing on its future --- as a butterfly.


Today my passion vine gave me a gift -- the very first passionflower in my garden. I didn't even see this one coming ... and suddenly there it is!

Bare trees

I've always loved the look of bare trees against blue sky. It's not that I hate leaves (I LOVE leaves). Maybe it's just that I sometimes miss other seasons ... like winter, when the trees are bare enough to make you appreciate the times when they are filled with leaves ... and vice versa.