Bees, Butterflies and Birds in the Backyard

Bee on Wild Senna 07-15-17-1468Have I ever said I adore bumblebees? If not, now I am proclaiming it, and they are some of the friendliest creatures in my yard. Last weekend the one in these pictures was definitely enjoying the Wild Senna, making me take extra notice of the brown spots on the blooms which make the flowers almost look like bees themselves.

I’ve managed to spend some time the last two weekends in the yard, which is more an exercise in discovery and meditation than it is management of what decides to grow there. With all the rain we have had this year everything seems determined to grow tall and abundant.

At first the most common butterflies were the Red Admirals above. Below, a Milkweed Beetle on its namesake plant and what I suspect is a Soldier Beetle on the Rattlesnake Master. I was just happy to see somebody else enjoying my first season for Rattlesnake Master in the yard.

Saturday I was graced with the first Tiger Swallowtail that spent some time in the yard while I was out there. For whatever reason, the butterflies seem to be attracted to my field of Echinacea more than anything else.

Tiger Swallowtail 07-15-17-1688And just as I had had enough and was about to go inside, this lovely Black Swallowtail showed up. I had seen one in the yard before but leaving, not hanging around.

Black Swallowtail 07-15-17-1746Black Swallowtail 07-15-17-1747I had a staring match with the Fox Squirrel. The sunflowers growing from spilled seed are too numerous to photograph, so here’s a close-up of one.

Not sure if I have more female House Finches or if half of them are immatures. It was nice to see a Black-Capped Chickadee too. In general, when I’m in the yard, the birds aren’t.

The moon was still visible.

Moon 07-15-17-1514I’ve discovered one or two Snow on the Mountain flowers in the yard, not where it was coming up for years, but now scattered, after it disappeared entirely. Glad to have it back.

Snow on the Mountain 07-15-17-1539And if you made it this far you might recognize the flower below as the invasive monster I was trying to eradicate earlier. I discovered the name of this nefarious plant yesterday while scrolling through the Audubon Wildflower App on my cell phone. The app isn’t new, but my use of it now is a new diversion. I’ve decided to scroll all the way through everything from A to Z to find things that I can’t remember, can’t identify otherwise, or discover new. So far, this was a fortuitous decision because I was close to the beginning of the alphabet with this one. And it is every bit as terrible as I suspected. Well, maybe not where it belongs, but it’s from Europe, and here’s part of the description from the app: “spreads by underground stems and forms sizable colonies. The plant contains poisonous sapnonins (soap-like substances) that inspired the genus name (from the Latin sapo, meaning ‘soap’) and the alternate common name Soapwort. Lather can be made from its crushed foliage. The common name Bouncing Bet is an old fashioned nickname for a washerwoman.”

I think maybe I’ll start calling it Soapwort.

Bouncing Bet 6-24-17-0419

Bouncing Bet, or Saponaria officinalis

So with those roots running under the soil I’m never going to get rid of this stuff, I’ll just look upon it as a nasty plant on which to take out all my frustrations every spring. And I’ll be sure never to eat it. I wonder if it’s as poisonous to wildlife. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the bees attracted to it. They’re pretty smart.

Bumblebee and Wild Senna 07-15-17-1751Still wishing for a Monarch Butterfly and/or a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird or Sphinx Moth to show up on a weekend when I’m in the yard…with the camera. 🙂

10 thoughts on “Bees, Butterflies and Birds in the Backyard

  1. It must be a happy garden because it’s visited by a variety of lovely creatures. Both swallowtail butterflies are beautiful. I saw one today (Tiger) pretty good size while I was mowing the lawn. thanks for the post Lisa. 🙂

    • Yeah I planted the Wild Senna last year I think in May or June and it did bloom a little but not huge like this year. But everything is huge this year! Thanks!

  2. Look at that, the elusive garden has shown up for a few photos! It looks great with all the coneflowers, and I bet the sunflowers add a lot as well.
    I always thought of soapwort as kind of benign and although I wouldn’t let it into the garden on purpose (even less so now), I never suspected there were so many problems which go along with it!

    • Thanks. The coneflowers are really irrepressible. They’ve even taken over the tiny strip along the fence and as long as I can walk through there on my way to the alley…they will stay at least as long as they look pretty. I was trying to get some long shots but it’s really difficult with trees and tall flowers in the way. Plus the fact that my yard is so small it’s hard to keep out views of the alley, the back of the house, the neighbors’ garages, etc. I don’t know where the soapwort came from but I’m glad I finally figured out what it is. My next project is to take pictures of everything in the yard, even the stuff I’m familiar with, and make a little catalogue for myself because I noticed going through the Audubon app that there’s a lot of information about some things I’m familiar with but just never bothered to name. And then of course after the photo session I get to start weeding it all out again.

      • That’s how I’ve felt lately. Weed and then start weeding again. I’ve given up trying to keep out the neighboring views. I think I have bigger area to work with, but not quite the same photo skills. I’d never guess your yard was small!

      • Trick photography. My yard is small but no grass (except for what I can’t cut) and jam-packed with plant and bird life. If only I could do an aerial view…hmm. Maybe I can brave the heat in the attic for a few minutes. 🙂

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