Friday, November 13, 2015

Good Things

For various reasons, we celebrated Dennis's birthday over several days this year.  On one of those days I made one of our favorite fancy drinks - a sparkling St. Germain cocktail.  The classic recipe calls for champagne, but we had Prosecco on hand so I used that along with the St. Germain ( a fairly sweet Elderflower liqueur) and a small spritz of Key lime juice.  I apparently had not mixed it as well as I should because Dennis commented as he reached the bottom his flute that he had hit the St. Germain motherlode.  I asked if that was a good thing or a bad thing.  He sang sadly into his empty glass "Good thing, where have you gone?" Click here to see FYC sing about their Good Thing.  It's a good thing that we have enough to make more cocktails!

Some other good things have been happening and some not so good things as well.  Sand continues to accumulate on the beach.  I estimate that since mid-September we have recovered almost 1/3 of what we lost and it is still coming in.  Another good thing is the increased numbers of White-necked Jacobin hummingbirds that have been at our feeders.
Immature male White-necked Jacobin at the feeder.  We see a lot of these and the similar looking, but smaller, females.  We don't see adult males with their stunning blue backs and white fronts very often, but perhaps these youngsters will come back when they are adults.
Insect egg cases are not always a good thing, but we welcome the egg cases of mantids. The nymphs and adults eat lots of plant damaging insects like aphids and soft scale insects.
Mantid egg case on a veranda post. I think the young have already emerged through the small openings along the "backbone".
It has rained an impressive amount - 10.5 inches so far in November.  This is a good thing and a bad thing.  Good because our water vats are filled.  We have enough vats now that we could make it through a a year of drought with little trouble.  Bad because the Monkey River Road is flooded, as is the village, and we have standing water on our property.  I found a chrysalis that the wind and rain had knocked out of a palm tree over-hanging the deck. It was lying in a puddle of water and seemed saturated.  I hung it in a plant on the deck using dental floss and planned to check on it periodically to see if anything emerged.  When I looked about an hour later, the chrysalis was empty.
Empty chrysalis.  Good thing - where did you go?
The emerged butterfly was flat on the wet deck.  I helped it onto the garden hose and moved the hose over the pot of plants.  I was amazed that it had emerged at all, even more that it had happened so quickly.  In retrospect I realize that I should have tied it so the chrysalis was secure against a leaf or stem so the butterfly would have something to hang onto as it emerged.  I'll do better next time.
Drying out.
It looked like its wings were stuck together by the rain water, but the wings themselves looked well-formed.
"I could eat."
After watching it for a while, I realized that a little nourishment might be helpful.  I placed a paper-towel saturated with sugar water in front of it and right away out came its proboscis.
Lapping up the sugar-water.
Ants like sugar-water, too.
It is an owlet butterfly, probably in the genus Opsiphanes.  There are many species that occur in this part of the world.  It could be a scallop-winged owlet or perhaps a tamarind owlet.  Or something else entirely.

I finally moved it into a small container with a new supply of sugar-water, so that the ants wouldn't bother it, and placed the container in a protected area on the north side of the veranda.  It became more mobile as the day progressed and was able to flap its wings.  By morning it was gone; I am hopeful that it will complete its natural lifespan after its rocky start.


  1. That was a nice little story about the butterfly Wilma. Open the blog below and read Steve's meeting with the little Blackcap as it left to cross the English Channel and travel down to Africa for the winter, it's only a few inches long.

    1. Hi Derek - thanks for the link to another great blogger to follow. Glad you liked the butterfly story.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mitchell. Don't you love those butterfly eyes?


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