Wildlife Wednesday: July 2015

Today is the first Wednesday of the month — time for Wildlife Wednesday, a meme hosted by Tina and her blog My Gardener Says… as a way to celebrate the wildlife in our gardens. Following the wonderful yet prolonged rains of the previous month, June popped with every kind of wildlife imaginable! Here’s what was happening in my garden.

Western Kingbirds (Tyrannus verticalis) were quite abundant this June. To be quite honest, I’d never heard of this bird prior to taking a couple photos of it and researching it at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site.

Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)

The Western Kingbird is in the Tyrant Flycatcher (Tyrannidae) family. They prey on insects. The one below swooped down and caught what looks to be a grasshopper in mid-air.

Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)

Western Kingbirds can be found throughout the western United States during the summer. Their winter migration takes them to Central America. In size they’re a bit smaller than an American Robin (Turdus migratorius).

Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)

It appears this Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) might still be a juvenile. His plumage doesn’t seem to have completely filled in and his crest certainly seems more black than blue!

Below is a Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus). His warm chestnut color isn’t obvious due to the cover of deep shade.

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)
Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

Here’s a White-Winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) on her nest…

White-Winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
White-Winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)

…and a nest full of American Robin (Turdus migratorius) youngsters!

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

From birds we’ll jump to bugs! Damselflies have been prolific this spring and early summer, more so than usual, due mostly to the damp and unseasonably cool weather. Below is a slideshow of the ones I was able to get photos of. I didn’t even attempt to identify any of them! If there’s a Damselfly expert out there — go for it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

June 15-21 was National Pollinator Week. Though I’ve been unable to identify most of them, there’ve been lots of pollinators in my garden! I believe the one pictured below is a Leaf Cutting Bee (Megachilidae).

As for the rest of them, your guess is as good as mine. Here’s one on a Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia)…

Pollinator
Pollinator

…on a Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)…

Pollinator
Pollinator

…on a Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)…

Pollinator
Pollinator

…and on a weedy wildflower.

Pollinator
Pollinator

I noticed the other day that we have toads in the garden. Toads are amphibians and are members of the Bufonidae family. As I was doing some weeding I kept hearing a shuffling underneath some flowers. Taking my life into my own hands…I stuck my hand through the foliage and pushed it aside. Actually, I figured it might be a baby bird. But it was a toad! He waddled off and hunkered down in a hollow in the cement frame beneath the fence. I continued weeding and he eventually reappeared, not looking quite as anxious. Perhaps he was gobbling up all those mosquitoes that were trying to gobble me up. I hope so!

Toad
Toad

Another visitor has been this gecko.

Gecko
Gecko

He’s most probably a Mediterranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus).

Gecko
Gecko

And lastly…we have a turtle. This tough guy looks likes he’s been through a ringer!

Turtle
Turtle

We had a turtle in our back yard on-and-off for about 6 years, until just before the beginning of the drought five years ago. Could this be the same turtle? The fact that he wasn’t seen for a number of years doesn’t mean he wasn’t actually around. This one has been hiding in the leaves and mulch beneath the shrubs along our back fence — a nice, comparatively cool place. So, who knows? I wish turtles could talk.

Thanks for stopping by to take a peek at my Wildlife Wednesday post for this month. Be sure to stop by Tina’s blog at  My Gardener Says… to check out the wildlife that other folks have hosted in their gardens during June.

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32 thoughts on “Wildlife Wednesday: July 2015

  1. Great photos! What a wonderful and diverse group of critters. That poor turtle. I hate to think what might have caused that to happen. Your geckos are huge! I never see any make it past the tiny pink stage. Something must eat them though I don’t know what. I love kingbirds. I only discovered them last year. I am not sure why I never noticed before … Love the blue jay and all the pollinators, etc. Most of all I just love toads. They are always so chill — nothing ever seems to phaze them.

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  2. Great group of critters there, Anna! I love those Kingbirds. I’ve seen them in Austin (funnily enough, in trees planted at a parking lot at a local HEB), but have never had them visit my garden. That second photo–such a catch! (By you and the bird!) Loved your slideshow of the dragons/damsels. There is a really good site, based here in Austin that you might look at: http://www.austinbug.com/ What I like about this site, unlike bugguide.net is that it’s specific to Texas and she has good photos.

    Love all of your pollinator shots, all of them and nice amphibian action, too. Thanks so much for participating in Wildlife Wednesday and I look forward to more of the same!

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    • I’ve noticed that the Kingbirds like to sit on the utility wires and at the very tops of trees. I’m sure I’ve seen them before from a distance but just figured they were doves. Funny what you discover when you take a picture of something! Thanks for the website link, I’ll be sure to check it out. And thanks for hosting Wildlife Wednesday and giving us all a chance to show off our critters!

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  3. Lovely post, I like seeing your wildlife, especially the birds, they are so like ours but they look like they have been dune up in fancy colours and bits added on…”pimped”..
    Nice to see the gecko and the Turtle, something I would never see in my garden…
    Amanda xx

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  4. Really lovely post Anna, I find pollinators tricky to identify too, so many tiny differences to recognise. Your turtle really does look like it’s been through the wars, I wonder if that affects his health?

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    • I really wouldn’t know how to tell one “buzzer” from another, so I’m not going to try. As for the turtle, I don’t think he has any problems. When I last saw him he was moving around quite well. I think he’d come out for an early (dark) morning drink from a low pan of water.

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  5. What an amazing set of photos! It’s great to see so much wildlife teeming in the garden. I particularly love the gecko – my grandparents used to have so many in the garden in the tropics. They are the most fascinating creatures 🙂

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    • Thank you and I’m pretty sure the turtle is okay. He just needs to keep away from whatever might have caused his problem. Perhaps a mower? There’s often one behind our property mowing an open space, so that could have been the culprit.

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  6. What a wonderful assortment you have visiting you. The photos are simply stunning – the damselflies alone are worth a post. You have quite an eye and, I’m guessing, the mosquito bites to show for all your wildlife stalking this month.

    We have toads around, I’m certain of that, but we usually only see one that hangs out around the outside A/C unit, which has to be the loudest spot in the yard. It amazes me the way these creatures can adapt to our impositions, and not only survive but thrive. Here’s hoping your turtle has a long and uneventful life from here out!

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    • So true about the toads. I suppose yours has found it to be cooler around the AC! I’ve noticed the geckos around ours in past years. I’ll keep an eye on the turtle if I can locate him. I think he’s hiding among the shrubs where it’s cooler, if there is such a thing at this time of year (cross my fingers, we’ve been lucky so far this year, no 100s yet)!

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  7. Enjoyable post! We do not have the king birds but we do have the other species you show. Also no lizards or turtles, sad to say. Love the pics of the damselfly and the robin’s nest!

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  8. A brilliant post and fantastic photos. What an abundance of amazing creatures you share your garden with. The birds are amazing and I love the damselfly slide show. Really great, thank you.

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  9. Like you, I just saw the Eastern Kingbird and showed it on my blog. It was new to me too. Poor box turtle. I used to see lots of them in PA, but never in NY.

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  10. Thanks for the ID on the Western Kingbird. I spotted some earlier in June flying around the treetops in shopping mall parking lots and thought they looked completely out of place…so much brighter and more tropical looking that the grackles that are normally found in shopping centers. It is so nice to see those little robin babies – knowing that you’ll have another generation to enjoy in your garden. I have plenty of anoles and spiny lizards, but have yet to see a gecko – I’ll have to keep an eye out. And that turtle – man looks like he’s had quite the ordeal – I can’t say I’ve ever seen a HOLE in a live turtle! Great wildlife!

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    • You’re welcome! I guess the Kingbirds have been around but I’ve just never paid them much attention. Now that I know what they are I see them everywhere. 🙂 As for the turtle, it looks like his shell (or something like it) has regrown at the bottom of the hole, so he must have had his battle scar for a while. He seems to be in good shape health-wise. Its amazing what creatures can go through and still survive.

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  11. Great shot of the pollinator covered in pollen and all the others too. Quite an array of beautiful and fascinating wildlife you have. The Kingbird is one I’ll have to look for since I can’t say I’ve seen one before but if Tina and Rebecca have seen them then we must have them too. We had a turtle spend time in our yard just before the drought and haven’t seen one since so maybe they will return with the rains.

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  12. I am amazed at the detail in these photographs. I felt so sorry for the little turtle with his shell partially crushed. Made me think about God and how he must feel when we do things to harm ourselves.

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  13. Wonderful assortment.. If you are ever interested..I have a small meme that I post by Tuesday called Nature Notes..just anything nature.. I have been doing it for 5 years or so, but it has stayed small, but there are lots of nature lovers in other countries and places I didn’t know much about…until now.. Michelle

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