Sunday, July 28, 2013

Finally Monarchs

A sure sign of hatching success, Monarch caterpillar poop.
I usually see my first Monarch butterfly in the first two weeks of June. It has been a very bad year for them this year and I had given up hope. Then last Saturday the 20th I saw the first one of the year.  On Monday when I was visited by some birders (Sharon and Corey and Linda) I spent more time out on the road and we saw 6, maybe 8, maybe the same ones several times.

I started looking for eggs. None in the garden so I had to expand my search.  I went out to the road and looked.  On Friday the 26th I found some.  I finally figured out that the monarchs are laying eggs but not on the mature plants.  They seem to only be laying eggs on the young milkweed. If it was 8 to 14 inches tall I found eggs.  Nothing high enough to make it comfortable searching.  I have to bend down low to find them.

The tall mature blooming plants had nary an egg on them.  I came in with 10 eggs for sure and two that I was unsure about.  Then I found one more the next day.  So far 7 little caterpillars are hatched.   YAY!
caterpillar and egg.
When I first bring in the eggs I put them in a glad or tupperware container with a lid. Once they hatch they get moved, with their little slice of milkweed, into a larger container. In this case an ice cream pail with a lid of cotton cheese cloth for air to pass through.  I usually have to double it or more to keep the kids inside.

Seven caterpillars in the ice cream pail with some young tender leaves.
When they grow a little more they will get to go into the big popup Caterpillar house.  It is  much more convenient for them and me. Also I can put the milkweed in a covered vase so I don't have the leaves wilting all over the bottom of the case.

As you can imagine this sort of takes over the kitchen counter for a few weeks.  But when they hatch it is so worth it.

Update: First caterpillar changes to a chrysalis 8/11/13
This morning one of the chrysalises was black and I could see the orange wings.  I was pretty sure it would open so I was keeping an eye on it.  Not enough of an eye though.  This is what I saw when I looked at it 30 minutes later.  It must have been opening the last time I looked at it. Maybe I need new glasses.
Update number 2,  8/21/13.  Five to go :-)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

First Say's Phoebe in Traill County North Dakota

Dear Jeni and Mary,
On Monday, 7/22, Sharon Watson and Linda and her son Corey Ellingson were out here to look at the Say's Phoebe that is nesting on top of a light fixture on the second story of my house above the east deck.

Today, Wednesday,  I sat on that east deck and took this video of the soon to be fledglings getting a lovely bug.  I think those babies are out of here soon.
4 babies, really!
Adult Say's Phoebe on the ground.  Really, there in the grass.
Having lunch on July 14th.
 Then I took to the yard.  I wandered around and looked at the old tree that has been at the back of the yard since I moved here 24.5 years ago.  The back of it has several large dead branches on it that have large nesting holes in it.  I wonder who.  Maybe the Yellow Bellied Sapsucker?
Sapsucker holes in one of the Maples.  Yes one of the ones Jim dared to 'trim'.
Sharon and Corey toured the property and told me what was a possibility and what they heard and saw (that I had never heard or seen).  My birding universe is expanding.   According to Sharon I must get up earlier.  Sigh.  Those of you related to me know that is not my favorite thing to do.

Anyway, while they were here we saw the Say's and had a good look at an Eastern Wood Peewee.  (I would never have identified it alone)  We saw a Cooper's Hawk flying down the lane and overhead.  We also heard Red Eyed Vireo's for about 1/2 hour as we walked down the lane, and I was shown the holes made by a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker in my Maple trees.  After they left I wandered out to the meadow and annoyed a Bobolink until it came up to shoo me away.  (no camera with me of course)  All yard firsts for me.  I figure anything within sight of my house is my yard.

I was told I had many Clay colored Sparrows which I have never 'officially' seen, but probably looked at many times.  I think I have a picture of one from this morning as well.
So is this a Clay Colored Sparrow?
How about this one?  It is perched by the pond.
Finally a nice Robin posed for me.  I had to put the picture up even though the back-lighting makes ID impossible, for me anyway.
And a Robin.  It was just a nice picture.