Friday, February 27, 2009


Another of the amazing things at the Butterfly Exhibit was the small collection of carnivorous plants. If you have never seen “Little Shop of Horrors,” the reference in this title will escape you. It refers to “Audrey,” the carnivorous plant taken care of by the nebbishy protagonist of the musical. Audrey turns out to be an alien from outer space, waiting to take over the world. Anyway, a couple of the plants in the exhibit reminded me a lot of Audrey, both the movie version and the one I’ve seen on stage.Cluster of carnivore plants Audrey 2 Audrey Too

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My hawk-feeding station

 Young hawk cu goodish 2-19-2009 7-04-05 AM 722x689 Young hawk 1 2-19-2009 7-03-47 AM 969x1256 I considered calling this post “Death from Above,” which is just as accurate. This morning I was at the computer before dawn. When it was still quite dark out, I could see some birds and rabbits at the quail block. Then, suddenly, a huge shape dropped from the sky—the hawk! It grabbed one of the birds and had a fierce struggle with it against the chain-link fence, while everyone else scattered. It was too dark to see much of what was going on, or what sort of bird it was, but from the size it had to be a quail or dove. Once the bird was quiet, the hawk continued to dismember it on the ground in the corner of the pond area. I later looked at the feathers, and saw no ruddy or black ones, so I suspect it was a dove.

An hour or so later, when it was light, the hawk returned (or a different one), scattering all the birds and rabbits, and sat on the fence looking around. Except one rabbit had not gotten away in time. It just sat where it was, completely motionless except for its twitching nose. Something spooked the rabbit and it ran off, followed by the hawk. But the rabbit evidently escaped, because the hawk soon returned to the fence, where I took pictures of it. I continue to believe it is a young Cooper’s Hawk. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Butterfly Sex!

Better yellow butterfly sex  Butterfly sex Blur I’m actually very interested in bug sex. In the summer in the early morning, especially after a rain,  swarms of tiny insects gather in spirals twenty or more feet high to meet and greet—a kind of insect singles dance. As you walk, you can see new insects heading for the  swarm, sometimes from a block or so away. I don’t know what they are, or if they die after having sex, but their singles activities are very visible and to me quite impressive.

The butterflies at the Botanical Garden did not gather in swarms, but there was a lot of butterfly sex going on. Two coupling pairs were pointed out to me by a man who seemed to be sitting and watching for just that activity and no other. One of the above pairs went at it in a kind of “69” position, while the other was more in missionary style.  You might feel sorry for the butterflies being cooped up in the exhibit, but it seems to me they had everything they need.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I have so much to say that I have been paralyzed about saying it. For now, two things: First, it's been a very warm and somewhat wet winter. I have not seen any cardinals in my backyard for a good eight months now. And a young hawk visits my garden a few times every day. More about him anon.

Second, I visited the butterfly exhibit at the Botanical Garden a month ago. It was as stunning this year as last. The picture above is posted by permission of Andrea Webb, a generous photographer I met there. Her website is  She had just taken a stunning photo of one of the most beautiful butterflies on a spray of white flowers. Just as I got there the butterfly took off, and she offered to send me a copy. Much more soon, including BUTTERFLY SEX.