Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hummingbird Moth Caterpillars, the Garden Path, and an Unexpected Avian Visitor

Two weeks ago I blogged about the Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth laying eggs on a little honeysuckle plant that had volunteered in the garden.  Some of the eggs have hatched and i have tried to follow the little caterpillars. 
This just hatched caterpillar was so small that I didn't know it was there until I looked at the photos  Of course I ran back out to find it and photograph it on purpose.  Tiny little thing, isn't it?
Here is another fresh one.  You can see a clear eggshell in the background.
The little black "tail" makes them look like dachshunds.
I took these next 2 photos  today.  This one is growing larger; you can gauge its size in comparison to the tip of my index finger. 
It still has a long way to go, size-wise.
My project for today and tomorrow is to finish the garden path section that had been removed 2 or 3 years ago when we put the patio in.  I got a fair amount done today. First I weeded that section of the garden and spread shredded bark mulch that had been sitting there in a pile for 2 or so years. I know, I know - I put the "pro" in procrastinate.  ;-)  I rough-prepped the ground and was able to get about 15 feet of stone positioned and settled in place.
Here is the part of the path I did today starting from the patio and going toward the side to meet up with the path that goes around the side and across the front to the driveway.
I have about 7 feet left to do.  It will be sort of like the meeting of the Union and Pacific railway lines.  No one to blame but myself if they don't line up.  
That was hard work because most of the stone was in the back yard and I had to haul it up the steps to the side yard.  I also spread 7 wheel barrow loads of mulch, which Dennis very kindly loaded and wheeled to me, and did a lot of weeding.  But prepping the ground for the path was the hardest.  I was inside taking a break while reading my favorite blogs when I heard this loud commotion outside.  It sounded sort of like the blue jays when they imitate a red-shouldered hawk, but much louder and really carrying on for some time.  I ran outside to see what it could be and saw this in a tree in the woods behind our house:
A bald eagle!
These are huge birds - up to 40 inches tall with a wingspan of up to 90 inches!
It is not unusual to see eagles soaring overhead around here, but I have never seen one in a tree except along the Mississippi River or one of the other rivers around here - certainly never in our woods!
Too bad the light was against me, but with some tweaking - OK, a lot of tweaking, the photos aren't too bad.  And  what a thrill!
It was not spooked by me and the camera or even by me calling to Dennis to come and see.  It hung around for about 10-15 minutes (enough time for me to take 93 photos, most of them too poor to keep) before flying off.  I tell you, it made my day.
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10 comments:

  1. A Bald Eagle in your garden I'm sure it made your day. The only comparison I can make over here in England is to have a Golden Eagle alight
    in my garden and that is almost an impossibility.

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  2. That is one hell of a garden bird, Wilma.

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  3. good eagle shots...

    as someone preparing for a significant lifestyle shift, you might check this out? like Fair isle or Belize, a certain physical removal is offset by the virtual community... JW has a partial live feed web cam too.
    If nothing else, you may find the different approach to a similar goal interesting... good luck in Belize.

    http://thefieldlab.blogspot.com/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/10/garden/10texas.html?pagewanted=all

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  4. Wilma,

    Truly amazing photography to get that tiny caterpillar in the way that you did.
    Also an amazing garden, or should I say, nature reserve, over here in England gardens like that are opened to the public to show them off.
    And just to really rub it in, how about the eagle in the tree, wow, well done.

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  5. Thats a really good bit of path laying there Wilma, I think we would call that style "Crazy Paving". That is a real name, (not an assessment of your work). Yes it must be a thrill to see the Bald Eagle what a magnificent bird.

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  6. David - I am still in a state of disbelief, good thing I got the photos, or I might convince my self it was a dream ...

    Dean - my thought exactly.

    remmij - thanks for visiting and commenting. I checked the links you sent; fascinating, not to mention potentially quite useful! We are already engaged somewhat in the virtual community. It will be an essential element for me. We will have to get satellite internet. Thanks again for the links.

    Derek - thank you. :-) its a cute little caterpillar, for sure. The first photo of the garden path looks out over property belonging to our 2 neighbors and then across the road to a farm with a wooded ridge above it. It is perhaps my favorite view, changing throughout the year. I'm still psyched about the eagle.

    Roy - "crazy paving" is a good name for it, although "lazy paving" is why I am doing it. ;-) It was a real thrill to see it so close.

    thanks to all for visiting and commenting.

    cheers,
    Wilma

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  7. What a stunning encounter to take your mind off all that backbreaking work.

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  8. Gloups, I was happy and surprised by these nice caterpillars, but when I saw the blad eagle that stayed in your garden enough for you to take 93 pictures, I was stunned. These bald eagle portraits are wonderful Wilma!!

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  9. John - yes, that eagle surely did get my adrenaline up! The work is hard, but I enjoy it so much. I take my time and get a lot of satisfaction from fitting the shapes together in a pattern that flows. The best part is that I don't have to please anyone but myself.

    Chris - from small to large, eh? I had already started the blog entry with the caterpillars and the path, but then that eagle came along! How could I not include it? Glad you liked it!

    thanks for visiting and commenting.

    cheers,
    Wilma

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  10. Madison,wi. Saw clearwing hummer moth flying erratic over low boxelder leaves then omg deposited egg! Came back found 3 more .built enclosure with plant watchful eyes... Today day 5 one hatched almost inthe blink of eye, just like your photos. Thank u so so much for your blog on them!!! How long before tiny cat starts to eat?? I am nervous wreck!, adorable! Terry young

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