We walked first through the garden, looking for insects… and we were both kind of surprised by how few we saw. There didn’t even seem to be many bees. We were super-excited, though, when we came across the caterpillar of an Anise Swallowtail Butterfly on one of the Giant Fennel plants. I’ve seen the eggs and some early instars of this caterpillar before (when they still look like bird poop), but I have never seen the adult caterpillar before. (I’ve seen photos of them, of course, but never a live one.) Their colors are luscious: pale blue and green, with black and yellow spots, and white lines… I think I took about 30 photos of that one caterpillar. Hah!
CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.
We also found some red Leaf-Footed Bug nymphs on another plant, and the eggs of what I think was a Green Stink Bug. Hard to tell without seeing any adults or nymphs around them. They were brown and barrel-shaped with a rim of tiny hairs around the top of them.
A new-to-me insect today was a small Pug Moth, also called a Common Eupithecia Moth. It was a kind of nondescript little moth, mottled brown. What made it stand out was the fact that its wings had kind of an elliptical shape, and the moth held them straight out at either side. It was on the leaves of a Basswood tree (also known as the American Linden Tree).
I’d never seen that tree in bloom before and didn’t know what it was. But today it was blooming, and the florets grew out of a separate leaf-like bract that looked different from all the other leaves. I don’t usually get excited about trees, but this one was so interesting, I had to do some research.
The trees are a favorite of bumblebees and a wide variety of moths. “…Basswood flowers produce an abundance of nectar from which choice honey is made. In fact, in some parts of its range basswood is known as the bee-tree…” The leaf buds require at least 14 hours of sunlight in a day before they’ll open. “…American basswood is dominant in the sugar maple–basswood forest association…” The flowers and stems have a lot of sugary sap in them. They’re usually found on the east coast and Midwest -–They’re Chicago natives. — but came to the west coast as ornamental trees in housing developments because they grow so quickly and provide a lot of shade. They can live for up to 200 years. Cool!
We also found a shrub that had tiny white flowers on it, and its lancet-shaped leaves smelled like lemon and spices! I haven’t been able to find an ID for it anywhere, though. And the garden doesn’t have identification stakes or guides anywhere. Bummer. I’ll keep looking.
At the middle pond there were lots of Wood Ducks and Mallards, including some mamas with babies. The ducklings are so light, they can walk right across the lily pads. We even saw a pair napping on one of them while their mom ran off anyone who came near them. About ¾ of that pond is now covered by Sacred Lotus plants. There were buds here and there, but none of them were opened yet.
We could see some Flame Skimmer dragonflies flitting back and forth among the lotus’s giant leaves, but were only able to get a distant photo of one of them when it landed down close to the water. Roxanne noticed, too, that there was a hummingbird that seemed to be “guarding” that same area of the pool. I wonder if it had a nest nearby, and/or if it saw the dragonflies as competition for the territory.
What really surprised us, as we walked around that pond, was a pair of fledgling Great Horned Owls. They were sitting on a low bare branch that hung out over the sidewalk. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing at first and had to have Roxanne confirm for me that, yes, that was a pair of owls.
They were in the shade, so it was a little difficult to get photos of them, and they fled as soon as we started to walk toward them. They flew off into a nearby tree, but were then harassed by crows and flew off further toward the trees near the street.
We then walked to the large pond and walked around that. Not a lot to see there, but we did spot several Red-Eared Slider Turtles and a Pacific Pond Turtle. And we came across a female Mallard who was sunning herself on the edge of the pond. She had several babies with her, and at first we feared she wasn’t keeping a very good eye on them.
One of them wandered off into the water and was being pursued by another female Mallard who seemed like she might hurt the baby. Mama Mallard woke up, though, and went into the water when several of her other ducklings decided they wanted to get their feet wet, too. Seemed like a “reluctant parent”. I wonder if this was her first brood…
So many questions.
When we left the big pond, we walked back past the middle pond and through the garden back to our cars. I tried to find the owls again before we left, but couldn’t catch sight of them.
All together, we walked for about 4½ hours before heading home.
- African Lily, Lily of the Nile, Agapanthus africanus
- American Robin, Turdus migratorius
- Angel’s Trumpet, Brugmansia arborea
- Anise Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio zelicaon
- Argentine Pear, Iochroma austral [purple bell/horn shaped flowers]
- Autumn Sage, Salvia greggii [deep red]
- Basswood Tree, Tilia americana [a kind of linden tree]
- Bear’s Breeches, Acanthus mollis
- Bigfruit Evening Primrose, Oenothera macrocarpa
- Bottlebrush, Crimson Bottlebrush, Melaleuca citrina
- Branching Phacelia, Phacelia ramosissima
- Bronze Fennel, Florence Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare dulce
- Buckwheat, Arrowleaf Buckwheat, Eriogonum compositum var. compositum
- Buckwheat, Saint Catherine’s Lace, Eriogonum giganteum
- Buff Orpington Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var Orpington
- Butterfly Bush, Buddleja davidii
- California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor hirsuta
- California Pipevine, Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica
- Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
- Cape Honey Flower, Melianthus majo [weird sac seeds]
- Chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile
- Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens
- Common Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Common Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea
- Common Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia
- Common Poppy, Red Poppy of Flanders, Papaver rhoeas
- Cork Oak, Quercus suber
- Cowpea Aphid, Aphis craccivora [adults dark, babies pink]
- Coyote Tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata
- Crevice Alumroot, Heuchera micrantha
- Day Lily, Orange Day-Lily, Hemerocallis fulva
- Douglas Squirrel, Tamiasciurus douglasii
- Dutch Iris, Flag Iris, Iris × hollandica
- Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis
- Field Penny-Cress, Thlaspi arvense
- Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula saturate
- Garden Sage, Salvia officinalis
- Garden Snail, Cornu aspersum
- Giant Fennel, Ferula communis
- Giant Mullein, Broussa Mullein, Verbascum bombyciferum
- Golden Columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha
- Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus
- Green Stink Bug, Chinavia hilaris [eggs]
- Hairy Matilija Poppy, Romneya trichocalyx
- Hedgenettle, Blephilia sp.
- Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema sp.
- Jerusalem Sage, Genus Phlomis
- Larkspur, Rocket Larkspur, Consolida ajacis [white or blue]
- Lavender-Cotton, Santolina chamaecyparissus [yellow, whorls]
- Leaf-footed Bug, Leptoglossus sp. [red nymphs]
- Liquid Ambar, American Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua
- Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascena
- Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
- Mexican Sage, Salvia mexicana [deep purple]
- Naked Buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum
- Northern Catalpa, Indian Bean Tree, Catalpa speciosa
- Oregon Grape, Berberis aquifolium
- Ostrich Fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris
- Pacific Pond Turtle, Western Pond Turtle, Actinemys marorata
- Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin
- Peruvian Lily, Alstroemeria aurea
- Pincushion Flower, Mourningbride, Scabiosa atropurpurea
- Pineapple Guava, Feijoa, Acca sellowiana
- Pug Moth, Common Eupithecia Moth, Eupithecia miserulata [lays with its wings open]
- Quince, Cydonia oblonga
- Red Hot Poker, Kniphofia uvaria
- Red Valerian, Centranthus ruber
- Red-Eared Slider Turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans
- Rose Campion, Silene coronaria
- Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera
- Smokebush, Smoke Tree, Cotinus coggygria
- Swedish Blue Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Swedish Blue
- Tower-of-Jewels, Giant Viper’s-Bugloss, Echium pininana
- Trailing Bellflower, Campanula poscharskyana [pale purple-blue, groundcover]
- Tree Aeonium, Aeonium arboretum [yellow flowers]
- Tree-Anemone, Carpenteria californica [white flowers, kind of look like rock-rose]
- Violet Tubeflower, Iochroma cyaneum [bunches of tube-shaped flowers]
- Wandering Fleabane, Erigeron glacialis
- Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana
- Wood Duck, Aix sponsa
- Woolly Hedgenettle, Stachys byzantina
- Yellow Dung Fly, Scathophaga stercoraria
- Yucca, Common Yucca, Yucca filamentosa
- ?? shrub with tiny white flowers and fragrant leaves