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21 July 2010 @ 07:46 pm
An Update from the Garden  

The last couple of days have been busy in the garden, so I figured it was time to post another update!

The birds and squirrels have been enjoying the birdfeeder. I've even had a new species visiting my yard for the past couple of days - a Yellow Warbler! He's been hanging out in the tree out front (the same tree where I'd seen a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Baltimore Oriole at different times in the past two years) for the past couple of days. I've never seen or heard Yellow Warblers in the neighbourhood before, so this one probably wandered in after leaving its nesting area. This is a common occurrence known as "post-breeding dispersal", which can result in birds turning up in unusual locations, some quite far from their regular breeding range!

Chipping Sparrow

I've still been searching for moths in my yard, and was surprised when this one flew out of the garage when I raised the door one morning! He must have been tucked away between the door and either the wall or the ground. Fortunately he landed on the driveway not too far away, where I was able to photograph him. I think it may be a Birch Angle Moth (Macaria notata) but haven't received confirmation yet.

Unknown Moth

I haven't seen that many butterflies around lately, other than the occasional Cabbage White which shows up in my yard. One reason I've been trying to spend more time in my yard on the weekend is to keep an eye out for new species, but they're either not around or they are stopping by when I'm at work.

Cabbage White on Lantana

Chipping Sparrows still visit me every day, although they are not always easy to photograph. I was sitting in a lawn chair across from the bird feeder with my camera ready when this one showed up.

Chipping Sparrow

Another photo of a Chipping Sparrow:

Chipping Sparrow

Bees are probably the most numerous pollinators that I get in my garden. There are always lots of bumblebees around.

Bumblebee on Purple Coneflower

This year, however, there seem to be fewer sweat bees around. They seem to like the butterfly weed, which is where I most often see them these days.

Sweat bee on Butterfly Weed

Another view of the butterfly weed:

Butterfly Weed

A couple of spiders have been spinning webs in my yard. I was delighted to come across this Cross Orbweaver (Araneus diadematus), also called known as the Garden Cross spider, in the back garden. The females can become quite large, and therefore require lots of insects to survive (something which should make all gardeners welcome these creatures!). Like most members of the orbweaver family, the Garden Cross spider builds a large circular webs, as much as 3 feet in diameter, and waits for prey in the center of the web while resting upside-down. If you do not see the spider there, look for her in a leaf at the end of a signal line running across the top of the web. Orbweavers build a new web each night and eat the old one to conserve the protein it contains.

Garden Cross Spider

Every garden has flies, and mine is no exception. I have seen some beautiful metallic ones, but haven't been able to photograph one till now. This is a blow fly (Lucilia sp.), which is famous for laying its eggs almost exclusively in carrion. Attacted by the scent of decomposing tissue, this is usually the first insect to appear on a fresh carcass, often within minutes of death. Because its larvae develop at a predictable rate for any given temperature and humidity condition, blow flies play an important part in forensic pathology (as often seen on CSI). Depending on which stage of development the blow fly is in when it is collected from a body, the time of death can be accurately determined.

Greenbottle (Blow Fly)

The ivy geranium I started from seed last March is doing very well. The pink blossoms are lovely, although they don't quite trail over the flower box on my deck quite the way I'd hoped they would.

Ivy Geranium

Another sparrow I was able to photograph this week was the male House Sparrow. Although a very common bird, I don't often take the time to photograph them. This one landing on my feeder gave me the perfect opportunity!

House Sparrow