Critters

These days we have had many wildlife spottings in our urban oasis.  As a child, our garden was home to snakes, deer, rabbits, turtles, chipmunks and even the occasional gopher or mole. We have a different ball game in our Los Angeles garden.  We’ve spotted raccoons and opossum, but most of our visitors are insects and birds, with an occasional lizard.

Remember that moment in spring when everyone and everything is searching for a mate?  I am reminded often these days, because I’m spotting parents teaching their newborn babies how to behave.

For the past few days, we’ve been watching a pair of black phoebe’s hanging out in our garden.   

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When I’ve gone outside to photograph them, they’ve moved away a little bit.  They are always together, or one is calling to the other.

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I wish you could see the little tuxedos that black phoebes where- they’re one of my favorite birds!  I’m sure the little fledgling will move on soon.  Until then, it’s fun to spot them perched on our tomato cages; David and I hope they eat the bad bugs not the good.

Last week I attended a training on an urban ecology curriculum at the Center for Urban Resilience where I had the pleasure to meet an animal behavior professor who specializes in crow behavior.  We learned about how crows can live for over 30 years in the same area, and are the second most intelligent animal on the planet.

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This is the palm in front of our house.  If you look closely, you’ll see there are two crows here.  These two have been noisy recently. The day I came home from learning about crows, I noticed they were squawking at each other.  So, I asked about it the next day and was told that the parents are reprimanding the baby crows this time of year. I’m not sure, but my guess is the baby is the one on the right.

I pulled some long grasses and weeds from the front bed.  I plan to re-pot the succulents soon so I prepared the area around them.

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I found one of our baby praying mantises after pulling weeds!  It was camera shy, starting to run when I pointed the camera at it.

So I grabbed it.  The mantid lept from my fingers, I scooped it up again and pointed the camera at my hand.

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It’s alien-like face cracks me up.  This little guy seemed curious why I was holding it. After snapping my photo, I dropped it again and then grabbed it to place it on the nasturtiums.  Slippery little one.

We have more critters, and evidence of them, in the back yard.

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There are squirrels that visit the avocado trees.  Sometimes we we spot them; Rosie usually sees them first.  Usually we find signs that they have come around because they leave their leftovers on the ground for us to compost.

The avocados are growing and our October harvest looks promising.

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The Bacon avocado tree will have it’s larger crop this fall, while the Zutano will have its smaller one.

Both trees are going to have a much smaller harvest, because they were pruned… probably for the first time ever.  P1020511

Pruned is a gentle word for what was done.

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There used to be a large branch practically resting on David’s red SUV. Now we will need our neighbor’s roofing ladder to pick any of the avocadoes that mature.  Sometimes the squirrels help us out by nibbling on a corner, and then knocking them down.  It’s probably not the best practice, but I just cut off their corner and eat my side of the fruit.

While our avocado harvest will be smaller, our mint harvest is not in jeopardy.

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The mint is flowering and the flies love it!  It’s kinda gross to see so many flies swarming around the flowers.  I just try to remember that it’s important to have all sorts of critters and pollinators in the garden.  We’ll be pruning the mint that is growing over the sidewalk, so I just brought a huge bunch into the house as a bouquet.

In the backyard garden, we also have flies on the borage.

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The borage with the ants and aphids will get pulled out this week. This is the other borage flower, near the eggplants and squash. I love the colors on this fly!

I try to snap insect pictures when I can. (Sometimes I catch the insect in the process.)  The last picture to share today is from over a week ago.  I just finished posting a blog, and went outside to pick tomatoes.  And I found this guy:

IMG_2102As it was so large, we considered keeping it to watch it pupate.  Then I read that the cocoons are buried in the soil.  We haven’t had a hornworm problem (this is the only one I’ve ever seen in three years) so we let it be.  Hopefully this isn’t a sign of what’s to come.

backyard farming pic

 

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2 thoughts on “Critters

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog awhile back! I’m interested in the insect visitors to my garden, too. It’s fun to show the kiddos whatever I find. I have heard crows are super intelligent, and can even be trained.

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