We have been working on a house in Austin and one afternoon we arrived to find this lovely Texas spiny lizard sunning on some old bricks in the yard. The bricks are reclaimed from the chimney of the house. The house was built in 1925. When one of the previous owners modernized the house, they took out the heating stove. It did not appear to have had a fireplace, but rather a hole in the bricks for a pipe from a wood burning stove. The chimney had been walled in and was this small, square, floor to ceiling outjut in the corner of the living room. The house had not been taken care of when we purchased it and needed major repairs, this was how we discovered the old chimney. When we first reclaimed them, a neighbor of ours, Robert Burns, took them to use in front of his house along the street. After he sold the house and the new owner remodeled, the new owner knowing that they had come from our house, returned them.
I was working outside this week and heard a buzzing sound fly past my ear and the sound of something small hitting concrete. I looked over at the drive way ramp and saw a cicada on it’s back, not moving. I found a small stick and offered it to the cicada. It grabbed it with its feet and I carried it to the porch, hoping to give it some shade and a safe place to recover from whatever had caused it to crash to the ground.
It was not the usual green cicada I am used to seeing. I googled central Texas cicada to see what I could learn. It turns out this is a Dog-Day Cicada. They are an annual cicada with a 2-5 year life cycle. I have heard of longer life cycles and those apparently are periodical cicadas, and complete their life cycle in 17 years. (The article in the blue link above, from the Texas A&M Agricultural Extension states the Texas periodical cicada can complete its life cycle in 13 years) The Dog-Day Cicada’s coloring varies widely from green, brown and dark brown/black to green with black. This one appeared to be mostly brown and black, but the green showed up more depending on the lighting and background.
Once I had taken a few photos and noticed that the cicada was starting to move around a bit, I moved it to a larger potted plant where it could continue its recovery in relative quiet and safety. When I checked on it later, it had gone.
I suppose that I should be used to having spring like weather in February. It is central Texas. We have had very little cold weather this fall and winter. I always worry that the trees will start budding out and the daylilies will emerge, then a freeze will swoop in for the kill. I’m a worrier. Until then, I will enjoy the spring like weather and the spots of color against the mostly gray and brown that make up most of the landscape.
This little flower has been blooming in the center of our backyard for over a month.It is like having a little spot of sunshine.
We have dill plants everywhere. I had one in a pot last summer and when it went to seed, I scattered them around for the butterflies to enjoy the plants next spring. The weather has been so mild they came up about a month ago. Below, one of my kitties is helping protect the dill against a butterfly attack. 😉
Preparing to fend off a butterfly.
Emerging daylilies. These are approximately 1/2 to one inch tall plants.
The same daylilies three days later. now 2-4 inches tall.
The redbuds are starting to bloom too.
We went to what we thought would be a small fireworks display and turned out to be one of the nicest I have seen in a while. Wonderful feeling of community during the event. I captured some of the display using the fireworks mode on my Canon Power Shot SX280 HS using the fireworks mode. It was fun!
This year we have had Scrub Jays coming to our suet block. They are a lovely blue and silvery gray color. Such beautiful birds.
Glad the squirrel left some for me
Scrub Jay on bird feeder structure