CURRENT MOON

New backyard plant: Wild Cinnamon

Canella winterana foliage.

The rainy season is right around the corner, so last month I worked on the landscape a little bit. I’d been disappointed in the performance of the gumbo limbo tree out front; it was in the shade of the towering coconut tree that dominates that front yard, and I wanted to see whether it would [...] [...]

Early spring birding in the front yard

It may be only Presidents’ Day on the calendar, but the weather down here in south Florida is nice and the birds are enjoying it. Was outside doing some early morning gardening on this blessed day off work and I heard the R2D2-like witchety watchety-doo of a White-Eyed Vireo across the street. Ran inside for [...] [...]

New backyard butterfly: Ceraunus Blue

Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus). Boca Raton, FL, February 6, 2014.

Today I saw the smallest butterfly I’ve ever seen in my life: the tiny Ceraunus Blue, Hemiargus ceraunus. Most blues, as this family of butterflies is known, are tiny, but I cannot convey to you the utter tininess of this thing. The tiny little stalk of dead weed it’s perched on looks gargantuan in the [...] [...]

Birds of Green Cay

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps), Green Cay Nature Center, November 30, 2013.

Every Saturday after Thanksgiving for the last several years I’ve led the local Audubon Society’s field trip to one of the constructed wetlands in central Palm Beach County: Green Cay. It’s always fun to visit there because the birds know that the people never leave the boardwalk so they’re very tame. Photographers, well aware of [...] [...]

New yard bird: Green Heron

Green Heron (Butorides virescens), Boca Raton FL, November 26, 2013.

The week before Thanksgiving continues to be busy at the homestead. On Tuesday and Wednesday—both rainy, windy mornings—we had a special visit from a new bird for the yard: Butorides virescens, the Green Heron. It’s a nice little marsh bird, but rather uncommon here so far from the nearest canal or other permanent wetland. We [...] [...]

Plants and transplants

Swietenia mahogani, Boca Raton, November 23, 2013.

The week before Thanksgiving 2013 was a busy one at the homestead. First, I found out that the “shrub” I transplanted from the old house and put right up next to the new house, counting on a nice upright slender shrub was in fact a West Indies mahogany tree that would have a crown width [...] [...]

New backyard planting: Black Ironwood, Krugiodendron ferreum

Black ironwood (Krugiodendron ferreum). Boca Raton, FL, October 28, 2013.

It was my dad’s 70th birthday last week, and to celebrate the occasion I sent him a pair of the most comfortable work gloves I’ve ever owned. Turns out my timing was good: the next day he planned to start a major lawn-reduction project involving the removal of hundreds of square feet of sod, the [...] [...]

New backyard butterfly: Little Yellow (Eurema lisa)

Eurema lisa on Richardia grandiflora. Boca Raton, FL, October 25, 2013.

Halloween is right around the corner and the butterflies are popping out of the woodwork. I’ve seen the “standard” passion vine butterflies (heliconians attracted to the Passiflora vines I have growing along the backyard fence) all summer, and they’re still out in force, but I’ve also got the smaller “grassy” butterflies flying around now. One [...] [...]

New backyard herp: Ringneck snake (Diadophis punctatus)

Ringneck snake (Diadophus punctatus). Boca Raton, FL, August 17, 2013.

Fear of snakes is instinctive. It just is. I imagine that most of those who have overcome it have done so through repeated exposure, knowledge gained over time. It’s not enough to know that an animal is harmless; you have to feel it. And if you don’t, you’ll still be scared by something as innocuous [...] [...]

New backyard plant: Limber caper (Capparis flexuosa)

Limber caper flower. Boca Raton, FL, June 13, 2013.

So I planted this twig in the front yard a couple of years ago. I “won” it at the Native Plant Society annual auction, and I’ve been waiting all this time to figure out what it is and what it does. Of course, I knew when I picked it up that it’s called limber caper [...] [...]