The nectar games

When the competition at the feeder was too rough, some hummingbirds opted to find nectar in the wildflowers below. The competition there was pretty good too — what with all those butterflies, bees and other pollinators. Here, a hummingbird goes for what must be the juiciest flower in the garden, since the butterfly was already there.

7-26 HB-Butterfly8-Edit
7-26 HB-Butterfly7-Edit

The monarch is back!

The monarchs are back. Well, at least one monarch. This one was trying to rest in the goldenrod this morning, but found himself being buffeted by breezes, honey bees, wasps and other pollinators. You can see the wear on his wings — appearing as scratches in some of his orange areas.


Balancing act

Foraging carpenter bee draws pollen from our lavender patch.

Carpenter bee hangs on when lavender plant bends under he weight.
BALANCING ACT – Pollen-laden carpenter bee hangs on as the lavender plant bends under her weight. She almost looks like she’s in yoga’s plow pose, with her legs sticking up over her thorax. Carpenter bees are very curious. When out photographing, often these bees (which are generally solitary, unlike honey bees) will hover in front of you, rising and dropping, as if sizing you up.

Winged beauties

The last few weeks in the Ouachitas have been a treat for the eyes.

Way station for a long journey

Every October, we look forward to the monarch butterfly migration. Two weekends ago, I spent a couple of hours in one of the gardens, ripping out the overgrown mass of foot-high grass and weeds, as well as the dried brown coreopsis and black-eyed Susan stems that were now wrapped tightly by a white morning glory-type vine.

In the midst of the mess were giant goldenrods and bunches of a woody-stemmed, white baby’s breath-looking flowers, all lassoed and pulled to the ground by the little white trumpet vines. A few bug bites and a lot of sweat later, the undergrowth was cleared away and the nectar-bearing goldenrods and white mystery flowers freed and staked to stand tall as a way station for the monarchs’ annual southward migration.

Today, they came to the mountain.

MAKING A PIT STOP — This monarch spends time gathering nectar for its long journey south.

Uncontrolled airspace

We’re not sure what kind of tree this is, but in the spring it sprouts clusters of tiny, nondescript light green blossoms that are to pollinators as catnip is to felines. ┬áStand within 5 feet and you will hear the tree buzz loudly. So loudly, my husband said: “it’s like standing next to a dynamo!”

Nearly every branch is in motion with the landings and departures of hundreds, if not thousands, of honeybees, carpenter bees, bumbles, wasps, butterflies and hummingbirds. Its shiny black fruits keep the birds happy through the winter.

YOU’RE IN MY AIRSPACE — Bumble bee and black swallowtail vie for the same spot on this blooming tree. Nothing like simultaneous approaches on intersecting runways.
CARPENTER BEE — Big carpenter bee in the blossoms.

Blossom world

Springtime in the Ouachitas engages every sense. Feel of the warm sun, see the vibrance of its animal and plant life, taste the honeysuckle, breathe in the fragrance of its blooms and listen to the work songs of its pollinators. Carpenter bees, bumblebees, honeybees, wasps, flies and butterflies — they were everywhere on Saturday as the mountains’ wild fruit trees’ blooms soaked in the sunshine.

ON THE EDGE - Who wouldn't want to be hanging around on fruit tree blooms on such a spring day.
IN FOR A LANDING -- Honeybee ready to land.
BUSY -- The blooms were full of flying friends.
ON THE WING -- After a week of stalking, finally captured this yellow swallowtail contrasted against the brilliant blue sky.

Post No. 100

It’s a good day for post No. 100. A quick 15-minute amble around the house and yard produced a pint of sweat and a bushel of frames. A sampling from this morning’s walk n’ shoot.

Ready to Fly

Seed head parachutes await the wind
Colt's foot seedhead parachutes await the wind. (photo illustration)


Yellow butterfly on  leaf
It's hard not to be captivated by colors in the Ouachita Mountains. You just have to look closely.


Gray butterfly on yellow dill blossoms.
This gray butterfly, and another insect pollinator below, make a stop at the volunteer dill. This is the second straight year for volunteer dill, right next to the 6-foot volunteer sunflowers.


Skipper resting on leaves
This butterfly rests in the shade among wild blackberries.

Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?

Orange bug with zebra striped legs
His mother dresses him funny.