Nature Trail Tour - June, 2009
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Cathy Hoak, Nina McCart, and a Sibley intern took the following photos. A little bit of rain fell during the month, just enough to make the rain lilies bloom, but not much more.
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American basketflowers were common on the Llano Estacado in June and July of 2009. Unlike other thistles, this species has no spine-tipped leaves. It is an incredible insect attractant.
Bristlegrass produces some of the best bird food on the Llano Estacado!
Bumblebees love the Texas Purple Thistle down near the pond at Sibley.
Cottontail rabbits produced many young this year, and the young take a while to learn to be scared of people.
After the one decent rain of the month, algae grew in a rainwater puddle, and when it dried up, the crust curled up.
Great tailed grackles are always at the pond, but it is almost impossible to photograph one in flight!
Green yucca pods had tiny crematogaster ants crawling on them, looking for oozing liquids to imbibe.
For the second year in a row, horsemint grew and flowered along Wadley Avenue in the Thicket Garden at Sibley.
Lizard tail gaura grows 6 feet tall, but it has the tiniest blooms of any species of the genus.
The lotebush were attacked by a small gray caterpillar this year – you can see one of them in the photo in the center left. It covered the damaged leaves with a silky line.
Some of the yucca bloomed late, and it had a pink tinge on its blossoms.
Rabbit’s foot grass bloomed in April and May near the pond, and left behind cottony seedheads.
Rainlily sends up its bloomstalk immediately after a rain, and within two days is blooming. Two days later the seedpod pops open, and two days later, the plant has withered and disappeared again.
Ratibida tagetes only grows in clay playas. It normally has ray flowers completely surrounding the disc flowers, but an insect had already been at work when the photograph was taken. Butterflies will visit it, but it only blooms for a few days.
The russian olives near the pond were covered with fruit this year. Birds gobble them up, and seedlings show up for miles around.
The Arizona Rosewood always blooms at the building in early June.
Russian sage begins to bloom in the gardens at the building in June, and will last to frost.
Salt cedar has continued to increase at the Sibley Pond, but with the revamping of the pond in September, hopefully we will be able to remove them, except for one or two for the butterflies.
The Cyperus sedge, with its stem that is triangular in shape, blooms in June.
Thistle seeds bring lesser goldfinches. After they eat the seeds, they use the hairs in their nests.
The purple thistle attracts many species of pollinators, including these tiny bees.
Other tiny bees found the goldenwave (Thelesperma).
Bees carry pollen on the hairs on their legs. Two species of bees work one thistle in this photo.
Whiptail lizards become very active in June, scampering along the trail even in the heat of the day.
A cabbage white butterfly lit on a sow thistle, which is not a true thistle, but is called that because of the spines on the leaves.
Wright’s baccharis went to seed by June.
A coyote left some hair on the barbed wire fence surrounding the Sibley Nature Center.
On the back of turtles algae and bryophytes grow, and in their midst, euglenas, amoebas, and many other microinvertebrates live. This is known as biocoenoses – a complete ecosystem in a very limited area. Red-eared turtles are common in the Sibley pond.
Catclaw mimosa also attracts many pollinators to its tiny white balls of blossoms.
The cattail blooms begin to form their buds in June.
Chocolate daisy anthers stick above the ray flowers.
Ground bees love the basket flowers.
The ground bees will remain on the flowers for many minutes, and if disturbed, will often immediately return.
Purple thistle blossoms are so perfect… an amazing structure so impossible to replicate in jewelry.
Just how tiny can a bee species be? We can not find much information on the Micro-bees!
The red eared sliders often bask on floating wood in the pond at Sibley. Notice how he has lifted his hind leg – maybe his toes got hot!
The few yuccas left in bloom were dropping their petals daily.
Doodlebugs form their pits in shady loose soil and trap tiny ants. They grow up to look like awkward dragonflies.
Thunderstorms are wonderful! West Texans watch and wait, and pray for rain without hail.
Young mourning doves left their nest and continued to hang around together.
A reddish-orange beefly visited a paperdaisy.
A person can get very close to a young cottontail rabbit!
Hundreds of damselflies can be found at the pond every day during June.
Yucca pods form while the old petals are still hanging on.
We began to let the pond dry up for the eventual relining of the depression with a new and thicker liner. Algae dried into white-gray clumps among the old rabbit’s foot grass clumps.
A prickly pear demonstrated that little rain had fallen. The pad is all wrinkled and “drawn,” indicating little water has been absorbed for months and months.
Notice how this grackle was running his open beak up and down a branch. This is displacement behavior – it is upset because of the presence of the photographer.
A female grackle hollered loudly, telling the other grackles that trouble was nearby.
A male great tailed grackle took up the warning, too.
Another squawking female reveals the nictating eye membrane cleaning its eye as it squawks.
A young grackle kept begging for food, despite all the fuss.
The grackles were squawking because of a western kingbird that kept swooping over their tree.
Kingbirds chase predators away from their nest, so possibly the kingbird had a nest in the tree, and one grackle was eating the eggs or young in the kingbird nest.
Mesquite bean begin to fill out and then turn ripe in June.
Many yucca pods had completely filled out in June.
Ground squirrel holes go straight down into the ground.
A honey bee landed on an Indian Blanket.
The Junior Master Gardener pond draws many birds during the hot hours of the day.
Lote bushes were blooming in June… normally they bloom in late May. Was this because of the damage by the caterpillars earlier in the month?
Bare soil revealed the shadows of mesquite, and old branches revealed past droughts, too.
Mourning doves are hard to see as they walk among the old sand dropseed seed stalks.
The damaged lote had lots of new growth.
Old coyote droppings turn white with age.
In front of a green yucca is the old crown of previous growth on the yucca.
Old yucca pods are a study in intricate architecture.
Orthemis ferruginea dragonflies are common at the Sibley pond.
The red seedlings of portulaca emerged after the one June rain, as did the new growth of Euphorbia.
This rainstorm never reached the Sibley center.
Mesquite leaves form a sea of leaves, blocking the view of the landscape.
One of the lote bushes had a branch that died from the caterpillars, and a small spider spun a web – the spider is under the branch on the right.
Tasajillo bloomed in June. The withered petals hung on as the fruit began to form.
The lote bushes drew another tiny species of bee.
Curvebilled thrashers built this year’s nest above last year’s nest.
The vegetation at the pond was thick and lush.
And, as always, the wind blew and blew and blew, making the cattails dance in the wind.
The Indian blankets danced in the wind, too, flipping ray flowers up and making a butterfly hang on for dear life.
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