Natural History Notes

Monday, June 30, 2014

rain lily reproduction!

This morning I took my coffee out to the front-yard sitting area to wait to catch Tommy when he finished mowing down in the pasture. As I looked around, I was very gratified to see that my 'Prairie Sunset' Zephyranthes had reappeared. I bought it from Painted Flower Farms last fall. It had leaves and one bud then, which opened after Steve planted it, but then of course it all disappeared in the winter.

When I got up to move my chair out of a sun-spot, I discovered more of them! Behind my chair was a clump with two flowers and two buds. This has to be where the original pot was planted. So a seed from that one flower last fall evidently germinated 4 feet away, and was able to bloom its first year.

This speaks well for the possibility of their spreading over the yard. And also urges me to get seeds right away (if the County doesn't mow them) from the golden ones blooming now at the Bayless-Selby House.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Somehow I have lived all my life without becoming aware of the identity of the katydid’s call, though I am perfectly familiar with the cicada. But the last few nights there has been something, very loud, apparently in the creeper leaves just the other side of the porch screen. I have recorded it a couple of times on my little mini digital recorder, but I haven’t yet learned how to put those files on the computer.

I thought maybe it was some kind of tree frog. Though I have just now become aware of the sound, and I would have thought it too late and dry for them. On the other hand we have been having a LOT of thunderstorms recently.

The cicada makes a long drone of a sound, with the individual clicks of the stridulations stretched out in a long even series, “r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r”. The call I've been hearing has separate, individually more strident notes, “ranh, ranh, ran-anh, ran-an-an-anh”. A sort of denser sound than a cicada.

Then Tuesday evening about dark I heard a couple of sharp notes of it from the middle of the dining room floor. I investigated, and found Agate uncertainly eyeing this critter, trying to decide whether or not to pounce. I stuck an inverted glass over it and then got it into this jar. Yesterday I got photos and then sent it on its way outside. It may be a common true katydid, Pterophylla camellifolia .

Still sounds to me like it might be saying a froggy “ribbit, ribbit, ribibibibit, ribibibit, ribibibit”. It starts out with some one- or two-pulse calls, then gets into its stride with four or five, and keeps it up half the night.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


…and the livin' is easy -- don't know about the fish swmmin' or the height of the cotton they don't grow in Denton County any more, but the Doak Orchards "Bowie Peaches Guy" is back on station in the corner of the bowling alley parking lot across from the mall, and summer is oh-FEE-shully here! Last year the late freeze did in their crop, and it was terrible. They had east Texas peaches at the farmers' market; they were good, but not the same.

Summertime flowers at the Ridge - the bull-nettles and spiderwort are gone and the black-eyed susans are passing. The tall yellow evening primrose is beginning to make a show. And there's a lot of horsemint this year. It will be showy for a long time.

But the speckled, creamy blossoms that the bees love, hiding under the bracts, will be gone I think by early July.

Got critters. Lots of birds, of  course. Mammals - I saw the gray fox a few weeks ago, first time in years. I came downstairs after I heard a metallic rattle in the front yard the other night, to find a 'coon that had failed to get into the birdfeeder, hoovering up the sunflower seeds underneath it. I see a cottontail in the lane often, especially down in the woods near the mailbox. And one night I slowly followed a young 'possum up the lane for a lo-o-ong way, till it finally went off into the grass to one side.

 This lizard was on the outside of the upstairs porch screen last week. Clearly it has never lost a tail to a cat.

The grasshoppers are very numerous, hopping up in front of the car in clouds, even when I seem to be travelling on a bare dirt section of the lane. They have been getting noticeably bigger the last couple of weeks. Today I photographed some that were posing on the windshield.

Labels: , , , , , , ,