Archive for ‘Nature Notes’

Common Buckeye

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The Common Buckeye Butterfly (Junonia coenia) is aptly named. Not only do the large eyespots look like deer eyes but it is very a common resident in the southeastern U.S. They are regularly found in urban areas, thriving in parks and weedy lots. As spring warms, some of the young butterflies will make their way north, spreading as far as Canada. Like many retirees, at the first hint of winter weather they will head south. The worn adult above could have been a local butterfly or a migrant. Or, to use the local term for a snowbird, a Winter Texan.

Bluebonnet

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Spring is here, according to the flowers that are popping up. The Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) is, quite fittingly, the state flower. I remember reading about bluebonnets as a child and yearning to see them. I think the name added a certain allure.

I was rather disappointed when I later discovered that they were just lupines (which we have several species of in my childhood state of Arizona). Not to detract from their appeal, they are still lovely splashes of color.

Nesting Season

The city of Rockport bought this valuable piece of real estate in 2016 to protect a heron-egret-roseate spoonbill rookery (breeding colony). The property’s prime waterfront location, looking out over Little Bay, meant the roughly 9-acre site cost a pretty penny, just shy of $3 million. For the birds who rely on the safety of this oak motte to raise their young, it is priceless. The site is especially crucial after 2017’s Hurricane Harvey destroyed many other nearby nesting locations.

Bent Oak Rookery is bustling right now as the large birds are busily constructing and caring for nests. Finding just the right stick is a very serious matter.

Sunny Star

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I’ll go out on a bit of limb here and identify this as Cucumberleaf Sunflower (Helianthus cucumerifolius). It is no mean feat to pinpoint the species since sunflowers are in Asteraceae*, the largest botanical family with a mere 32,000+ members. I feel moderately confident in my choice since it is commonly found here, tolerates sandy soil, and blooms this time of year. Beautiful, no matter the name.

*Asteraceae- from ancient Greek meaning star, referring to the rays of the flowers.