I was just going to show the monthly progress of my pollinator garden when the artic blast occurred. It was horrible. One of the things I dislike the most is COLD weather! It ruined the garden progress, along with our water well.
The damage to our wildlife friends was severe. Many birds did not make it through the freezing temperatures. That was very sad for me. I put out ten times the bird seed that I normally use. I hope it helped some of the birds make it through. Nature can be swift and harsh when it wants to, then forgiving and magical the very next day.
I guess it’s my age, but I always think of certain songs that seem to fit the moment and the mood. When the cold weather was on its third day or so, my mind went to “California Dreaming on such a winter’s day… ” Then when the cold was fading away I thought of John Lennon’s “Here comes the sun.”
Here are a few photos taken during the event.
I hope the photos I take next month are more cheerful.
As I perused the damage to my live oaks, palm tree, shrubs, flowers, etc., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, I noticed that plenty of things were green and perky and flowering in some cases. This was less than two full days after the record breaking Great Freeze of 2021. I began documenting what wasn’t damaged by the horrible weather.
I documented Henbit Deadnettle (love to know where that name originated) in bloom and profuse. I found Annual Grass-Meadow, Common Chickweed in bloom, Red-seeded Dandelion in bloom, Common Cat’s Ear, and Asiatic Jasmine (which has now proven to be resistant to any type of attempt to remove it). There were others. What is amazing is that they suffered no damage in the snow/ice/freeze. They immediately perked right back up. Everything was not so lucky.
What is looking particularly harmed that surprises me is Texas Purple Sage and Prickly Pear Cactus. The leaves are shedding in mass off my Texas Sage – a favorite of butterflies and bees, and I found cactus that looks melted. The Texas Ag Extension Service advises to leave them all alone, don’t even prune, because it is believed many will come back given time and patience.
I’m going to go out and sing to my Texas Sage every day to encourage it’s return. Let’s hope it has a tin ear.
P.S. In an aside, there is a picture of three Cedar Waxwings with their faces pointed toward the sun on Saturday. They seemed to be just taking it in. The chain saw cutting broken branches right below them, did not bother them.
With all the snow that has fallen on a wide area of the region, it’s understandable that our wildlife does turn to us for their sustainable needs, like food, shelter, water. The birds are one such animal that look towards our gardens, birdbaths, bird feeders for nourishment and shelter.
One example I am sharing with everyone is one that surprised me and gave me great excitement. I got the family outside to experience this rare act of trust and absolute need between Nature and humans.
Early Monday morning (February 15), around 7 am, I ventured outside to tend to our domestic animals, to make sure food and water were available and to check on their wellbeing. The temperature was 7F and the wind chill of negative 20. Being outside was difficult and dangerous for prolonged periods of time. After caring for the dogs and cats’ needs, it was time to go to the feeders, after a warmup break inside.
As I approached the feeders, there were many species of birds, more than usual. I store my bird seed in a small, metal trash can. I set the can down by the feeders to fill them. Right away I noticed this particular species of bird that did not fly away. I was in aww and I thought what if I hold my hand out with feed so I could get the opportunity to feed a wild bird with my hands. This became a reality. Immediately, the birds flew to my hand, appearing not to fear me. I wondered if they knew me well enough that they trust me or are they that hungry due to the 8.6 inches of snow that fell overnight with blizzard-like conditions. I believe that it is both.
Throughout the year, I supply food, water, and shelter for many species of birds, both native and migratory. It is very exciting and fulfilling to be a part of their lives.
I videoed the excitement right away, capturing the moments where these birds came to me for food. At first, I thought these birds were some type of Warbler, as there were Warblers in the mix of the many species present. I learned later that these birds are Pine Siskins. After further research, I learned that every couple of years, Pine Siskins make unpredictable movements into southern and eastern North America.
I got my kids and wife to go outside and try to feed these birds and the excitement grew. We have been feeding them in this manner for two days now. What a great opportunity to have the chance to let a bird land on you, fearless, and feed out of your hand.
This was a low-key BioBlitz, promoting observations made at one’s place of residence to avoid travel and promote physical distancing during this time of COVID precautions. We enjoyed pleasant weather that encouraged outdoor time during the first part of the designated week, but it did get a bit disagreeable during the last days. Still, worthwhile observations were made.
Perhaps one of the first things noticed by plant observers was the lack of blooms. Yes, there were the typical cool-weather blossoms of henbit deadnettle, catchweed bedstraw, shepherd’s purse, and common chickweed, but also a lot of unidentifiable leafy green rosettes.
Lichens, particularly the orange colored hair lichens, were definite eye-catchers in the drab landscape.
Some plants such as the American Trumpet Vine were identified by last season’s seed pods
Other plants were given a general tentative ID and hopefully will be revisited when blooms appear later in the year.
We observed birds. A Red-Shouldered Hawk is perhaps checking out the nearby martin house.
We observed reptiles. Well, one reptile observation was made.
We saw mollusks,
And other arthropods, such as this intact exoskeleton of a white river crayfish.
So, I thank you, sunasak, birdladymilam, marianmarie, eaneubauer, chenderson, dsorenson, potterswasp, jfcthornton, and debbi9, for participating in the BioBlitz.
I look forward to joining you at the spring iNaturalist seasonal BioBlitz, scheduled for May 20-26.