Labs at the Lake

Last September, we rented a house on Moss Lake in North Carolina and had such a wonderful time that we made a return visit.

Tucker……aka “the Beast”…

…LOVES, LOVES, LOVES, romping in the water.

It’s as if you can hear him yelling, “I was made for this!”

Chaco……aka “Beauty”…

…loves the land, and the lake…

…but especially loves her Daddy!

She is the perfect dock dog, greeting any boat that travels by and keeping a vigilant watch on the geese.

The duo obliged me with a few posed pics…

…but mostly they raced and chased and then snoozed in the sun.

And by the way, the mutts weren’t the only ones to enjoy the get-away. You’re never too old for a monkey swing, right?

Ahhh….Labs at the lake…that’s definitely my kind of fun!

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Glorious Garden Guests: Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillaries are another of the glorious garden guests that add an extra dose of beauty to the summer season.

The designs and patterns on these butterflies are absolutely mesmerizing, right down to their speckled eyes!

These Zinnia lovers flit from flower…

…to flower…steadily slurping up nectar.

By themselves, Zinnias are lovely flowers, but when you pair their petals with a perched Fritillary, it’s a picture perfect combination!

Always a pleasure when these beauties bless me with their presence.

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Glorious Garden Guests: Tiger Swallowtails

One of the glorious guests that visits our front yard garden is the Tiger Swallowtail.

The male is bright buttery yellow with black stripes on his wings – hence the name “tiger.”

The female comes in two color combinations. One is yellow with a brilliant band of blue at the base of her wings…

…and the other is a beautiful blackish-blue.

Although they were a little late in their arrival this year, these beauties have been out in abundance for the last several days.

I enjoyed watching the “courtship” behavior of one flirtatious male, as he followed a female from flower to flower with the hopes that she would welcome his advances. (Fyi – she played hard to get!)

Tiger swallowtails only live for a couple of weeks. You can tell when they are at the start of their lifespan because their scales are still vibrant (Yep – butterflies have scales!) and their “tails” are still intact.

As they get older, they lose their shimmer and show some wear and tear, like this one below.

The two blossoms the Swallowtails seem to enjoy the most in my yard are the Butterfly Bush – which clearly lives up to its name…

…and the Zinnias.

Both of these plants provide plenty nectar…and clearly plenty of pollen.

I know these butterflies won’t be here for long…

…so I will gratefully bask in the fleeting beauty of these glorious garden guests.

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Who Needs Netflix?

My backyard is overflowing with juvenile Blue Jays!

These youngsters have been nudged from the nest, and are so much fun to watch as they discover the world. They are extremely curious and not the least bit shy.

Though quickly growing in independence, they are still not above some feather-flapping-food-begging when an adult is in the vicinity.

They haven’t quite mastered the fine art of rail landing…

…but they are quickly becoming proficient at peanut pecking…

…and peanut popping!

They definitely have taken a linking to Bark Butter!

There is one trio of youngsters that often show up together that discovered the joy of the backyard waterfall together. First one ventured in…

…followed by a second.

The third Jay was a bit hesitant and watched for awhile from the edge…

…but eventually couldn’t resist the allure of the water and before long had joined in the action.

These youngsters have been a constant source of entertainment. I mean, seriously, who needs Netflix when you have a backyard full of juvenile Jays?

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Hummingbird Happiness

The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been enjoying our front yard trumpet vine, and I have been enjoying their enjoyment!

This fellow darted back and forth grabbing quick nips of nectar.

The blossoms were wet from the sprinkler, and after one of his head dives into a flower, he came back shaking the water droplets off like a wet dog.

But he was not to be deterred. He just reared back and dove right back in!

B the way, you can tell this one is a male because of the coloring around the throat – which, depending on how the light hits, is sometimes black, sometimes deep rust, and sometimes a gleaming ruby red – hence the name! Also, the tail feathers on the male are more pointed, whereas the female’s are more rounded.

Below is a female. You can see how creamy-white her neck is.

Getting these fast flyers in focus for a clear shot is a fun challenge, and also a good excuse to go outside and stand in the garden, soaking up the beauty of the birds and blossoms.

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A Second Batch of Babies

My backyard has been bombarded by a second batch of babies.

Some of these youngsters have been granted the privilege of venturing forth on their own – like this Red-bellied Woodpecker, this Red-headed Woodpecker, and this juvenile Blue Jay.

Others are still coming in the company of a parent, and continue to be quite vocal about making their hunger known…like this Red-winged Blackbird baby (who looks nothing like its Daddy!)…

…and this delightful, yet demanding, baby Bluebird.

So, if you’re looking for piece and quiet, my backyard is not currently the place to be, but if you are in search of some entertainment, it’s just the spot!

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Gallivanting at the Gardens

Yesterday morning, hubby and I went on an impromptu date to nearby Smith-Gilbert Gardens.

My hope was to get a few Butterfly photos and maybe a Hummingbird or two…and both of these hopes were granted.

This Zebra Longwing (one of my favorites) obliged me by lounging on leaves…

…and feasting on flowers.

He was particularly fond of the Lantana.

A handful of Hummingbirds were also buzzing about.

Some positioned themselves on perches, guarding their territory…

…while others were busy partaking of the flower nectar.

These delightful darters are enjoyable to watch, though difficult to capture in a non-blurry photo.

As always, my hubby patiently toted my camera bag and waited in the summer sun while I snapped pictures. To say I had a hot date would be doubly true!

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This Monarch Missed the Memo

I think my butterflies have taken this social distancing thing to heart, as I have had far fewer visiting my front yard flowers than summers past.

So, I was thrilled when this Monarch showed up, who apparently missed the memo.

He spent a good bit of time flitting about the Zinnia bed…

…sipping and sampling with no competition other than a few bees.

Later, he flew over to the flower box (also with Zinnias) that my hubby built to try and entice more butterflies and hummingbirds to come and pose for pictures.

I’m glad a picture paints a thousand words, because there really aren’t words adequate to describe how beautiful these butterflies are.

I’m still hopeful that some Fritillaries and Swallowtails and a whole host of Skippers will be arriving any day now…

…but in the meantime, I’m grateful for a few moments with this Monarch.

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Pretty Petal Pickers

I spent time with the prettiest petal pickers the other day!

My front yard was filled with busy Goldfinches visiting the flowers, relieving them of their petals in search of seeds.

There were finches on the Black-eyed Susans…

… finches on the red Sunflowers…

…but mostly, there were finches feasting on the Zinnias.

This poor fellow painstakingly picked petal after petal…

…only to have a watchful, yet wily female swoop in and say, “I’ll take it from here.”

But the coy coup didn’t seem to deter him in the least. He merely flew off…

…landed on a stem to survey the selection…

…and proceeded to repeat the petal picking process!

These beauties brighten any day!


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Summer Wings Are Beautiful Things

Now that summer has officially arrived and the flowers are in full bloom, the front yard visitors have begun to make an appearance.

Butterflies, though later than usual, are sampling the purple blossoms from the bush that bears their name – like this male Tiger Swallowtail…

…and this female Tiger Swallowtail, of the “dark morph” variety.

Bees have been busy investigating the cone flowers…

…and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been spotted flitting about.

My favorite visitor of this start to the summer season was this Hummingbird Moth, a creature that is difficult to capture in a photo (At least for me!) but fascinating to watch!

Ahhh…summer wings are beautiful things!



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