Yesterday the weather was beautiful, so Anita, the dogs, and I spent the late afternoon outdoors in Austin. Honestly, I just wanted to get some exercise and enjoy the air, but I just can’t stop with the nature observations. I guess iNaturalist is the winner there!
As we walked the dogs, Anita asked me what a pretty white flower was. I could see it was a type of lantana, but it was not in a spot where anyone would have planted it. So, I submitted it to iNaturalist and hoped for the best.
This friendly looking guy is the gazelle scarab beetle. They like to eat poop and attack tack rooms.
It seems like every year we get a different plague. This year’s infestation was quite a surprise. And how it managed to infest our tack room was quite ingenious.
You see, the room where we store all the equine food, saddles, and other equipment may not look great, but it is very well sealed, so that mice and other intruders can’t come in and eat our delicious beet pulp and expensive supplements. It’s also air conditioned, so that the leather tack doesn’t get all moldy and icky.
I recently dropped some black sunflower seeds, and from a distance, they do resemble dung beetles.
So, yes, we were surprised this weekend when what we originally thought were black sunflower seeds that we’d spilled were actually a LOT of dead bugs. I uploaded a…
Those of you who don’t know me in any other context may not
realize that I spend half my time in Austin, where I work as a Senior
Instructional Experience Strategist (what??) at a software company. I like
where I work, because there’s a lovely xeriscaped courtyard full of mostly
native plants, nice areas to walk around, and big windows to look out of.
Last April, my boss and I noticed that a hawk, probably a Cooper’s hawk, kept flying around, swooping past the windows on the other side of the building, and disappearing. Now, we often see hawks around here (sometimes in the winter, it seems like every tall light post along the big highway has a hawk on it), so seeing it wasn’t a surprise. The repeated flight path was.
The next day, around 3 pm, a coworker and I decided to walk around the buildings to bring us some energy for a project we were working on. We stepped out of the building, and I said, “Look, Kate, there’s that hawk again.” Then I said, “LOOK, Kate!”
There, in the building next to ours, on top of some railings that look cool to an architect, was a big nest. That’s where the hawk was going! We quickly realized that the reason we saw a hawk so often was that there were two, AND babies.
The following idea was entirely conceived and designed by Joyce Conner, member of the Texas Master Naturalist program. She has given these “crystals” away at nature events and classes since 2013.
Every winter when my brother and his wife come to Texas to escape the cold and snow in Wisconsin, we women typically do several craft projects. When there is a large enough supply of empty aromatic scent bottles (typically Wallflowers from Bath and Body Works), we make “crystal” hangers to give away.
My sister-in-law Suzy Coose is the talented person. She is
in charge of painting dragonflies, birds, flowers, and butterflies on the empty
bottles. My grandkids and I usually are her helpers for everything else. This
winter Phyllis Shuffield had collected many, many bottles for us, so we got to
work getting them ready for 2019 Earth Day give-aways.
The following are instructions, in case you would like to make your own hanging “crystals.” (Since I can’t find my pictures I took this year, I have included some from past years.)