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