Hen and Chicks

Hen and Chicks love my mom’s back patio.


Hen and Chicks in August

I think this colony originally came from Grandma’s farm near Lexington, Oklahoma. (The farm was also loaded with rose rocks, the state rock of Oklahoma. But that’s a different set of photos.)


Hen and Chicks in October

I’ve noticed the green of this succulent deepens and the tips of the leaves turn a dark reddish color when it gets cold. This variety is tolerant of Oklahoma winters, even including a layer of ice.

Hen and Chicks in January on Cottonmouth Creek

Hen and Chicks in January

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Baby Garden Snake

I came through the gate yesterday and saw a pale little snake perched on a vine at the top of the fence. He was keeping an eye on me.

Pale Little Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

Pale Little Snake

By the time I returned with my camera he was gone. But he was so small. I knew he couldn’t get far. I looked at the tangle of leaves from every which way and finally caught sight of his slender light-colored body.

When I first saw him he looked almost clear in the shade of the late afternoon light. However, the green popped out in the light of the flash. Seems to be a baby green garden snake.

Pale Little Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

He was curled around the vine, not at all interested in posing for pictures.

Pale Little Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

When I moved a leaf out of the way for a better look he got mad at me.

Pale Little Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

He curled up ready to strike. And then he did, opening his little mouth to bite me. He wanted to be sure I knew he meant business.

It was pretty darn cute

Pale Little Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

He was maybe ten inches long,  if he would let you measure from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.

And he was so slender. More slender than a number two pencil.

Pale Little Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

You can see how small he is compared to the chain link fence in the foreground.

I wonder how long it will take him to grow into the long neon green garden snake I’ve already met.

Any interesting critters in your backyard?


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A Neon Green Snake-in-a-Tree

This might be a Smooth Green Snake or a Rough Green Snake.

Green Snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

Is this snake smooth or rough?

According to Wikipedia the Smooth Green Snake has smooth dorsal scales and the Rough Green Snake has keeled dorsal scales, which evidently is rough to the touch. The smooth adult is 14 to 20 inches. The Rough Green Snake grows up to 45 inches and is very thin.

They are commonly called grass snakes and are not poisonous. They are docile, non-aggressive and rarely bite. They live in a moist habitat near water, and next door there is a small backyard garden pond right below the tangle of grapevines where this guy was hanging out.

Green grass snake on CottonmouthCreek.wordpress.com

Peek a boo!

They are bright green snakes with a lighter, yellowish belly, perfect for camouflage in the trees. They eat insects and spiders.

Next time I come across one I’ll have to touch it to see for sure if it’s rough or smooth…. or not.

It was longer than 20 inches so I think it’s the rough green snake. But but it really doesn’t matter. I just wish it ate more ants.

Anyone else have a snake-in-a-tree or maybe a snake-in-the-grass story or picture to share?

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Seemed like something wasn’t quite right with Blue a couple of weeks ago and today she’s gone.

Blue on Cottonmouth CreekShe absolutely adored me.

BlueShe can’t keep from wagging her tail.

I wish I could have done a better job for her. She was just three years old. I will miss her.



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Asian Lady Beetle, I think

Oklahoma weather will always give you something to talk about.

Tornado season was late this year. Nothing until late May and then we had two “big ones” before the month was out. A two-year drought was broken in places with fifteen inches of rain in some places.

Temps of 100° have been scarce and then it rained three days last week in the middle of July. With all that wet, mold allergens are off the chart, and tree and grass pollens are also spiking when they’d usually be settling down this time of the summer.

IMG_8528.JPGHere’s one of a bundle of rare July mushrooms that popped up this morning in my yard. Evidence of the blooming fungi that’s causing a run on allergy meds.

It’s also playing havoc with the bugs in my yard—way too many mosquitoes—and introducing me to some new characters. IMG_8455.JPGI’ve never seen this one before. It was on the underside of a pecan leaf.

IMG_8454.JPGIt was early morning so the light is kind of flat.

IMG_8453.JPGHe didn’t seem inclined to fly away or run off so I plucked the leaf off the tree and brought him to my “studio” for a better look.

IMG_8456.JPGI googled “yellow and black spiky bug” and checked out the images.  With “lady beetle” in his common name, I wonder if he’s related to lady bugs. I found him on bugguide.net called the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis).

IMG_8457.JPGHe’s about a half-inch long, and never budged while I shot these pix. No idea what those little tiny rice-like pellets are on the leaf.

I found him when I took a look at the young pecan tree out back. I found these clumps on the leaves and evidence something is snacking on them.

Spiky Yellow Bug on Cottonmouth CreekWhen I turned the leaves over to see what might be related to these clumps I found my spiky friend. I haven’t noticed these clods before so I don’t know if they’ll cause problems for the tree or not.

Other never-seen-before-bugs in my yard have decimated my Sweet Autumn Clematis and I don’t expect to enjoy that wonderful fragrance this year.


I’ll share that sad story in another post.

Have you noticed any unusual bugs or other critters in your yard this year?


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Baby Birds Have Flown the Coop

I’m way behind with posting my summer backyard pictures. There’s a lot going on here on the banks of Cottonmouth Creek. The cutest thing that’s gone on is a baby bird baby boom.

It all started when I hung a collection of bird houses on my porch last fall. I sold a few at the flea market and when I brought these home I hung them outside to “store” them until spring.

Birdhouse on Cottonmouth CreekTurns out Mother Nature had other plans. Other plans than me selling them. Selling the bird houses, that is.

IMG_8163.JPGSeveral months ago there was a flurry of nest-building going on around my domicile, which included little brown birds building nests in all three of the license plate bird houses. These are Bewick’s Wrens and mom and dad both tend to the nest. Two pairs of birds set up a nursery in two of the three bird houses.

IMG_8170.JPGI was unable to get a picture of mom and dad. They weren’t ones to dilly-dally on their front porch perches when there were worms to catch.


And when  the eggs hatched, the babies wanted lots of worms.

IMG_8159.JPGI only heard little bitty cheeps and squeaks for the first week, but the second week, the babies were quite vocal about their appetites. My front porch is long and narrow and the bird houses are at eye level. When the babies heard me approach they wasted no time in poking their hungry little beaks out of the opening ready to be filled.

IMG_8172.JPGWhen they realized I didn’t have anything to offer, they’d wait for mom, or dad.

IMG_8165.JPGTwo days after I took these pictures the babies, still downy, took flight. My cat Sundance was not happy about staying inside the next two days after I found four tiny birds bouncing all over the driveway.

Their flight paths were erratic and short. Lots of fluttering, and bouncing, and crashing, and a little bit of flying. After a few inches of flight they clutched the brick wall before screeching and crying and managing a few more inches.

I could hear the moms and dads singing encouragement. They must have been giving directions because all four babies began to make their way to the other end of the porch where grape vines provide cover and low branches for new flyers.

After all the babies were away from the car and the driveway I reluctantly left to run some errands. When I returned there was no sign of them. The bird houses were empty, no longer needed.

A few days later I saw one baby venture back to the bird house to peer inside before flying off again. They’re much smaller than  mom and dad—about the size of a mouse—but they’ll be full-grown in no time.

So far Sundance hasn’t brought me any feathery treasures, thank goodness. Guess if I’m going to sell any of my birdhouses, now would be the time to take them down.

I thought these bird houses were just for decorative purposes, but they were certainly a lot cuter with birds in them.

Have you had nesting birds in your yard before?  Would you like to have some? I know where you can get a bird house.


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Lady Bug, Lady Bug, You Run So Fast

Lady Bug, Lady Bug,
Where are your spots?


This lady bug was fast!  I focused on her at the fork in the branch and look where she was by the next instant when I snapped the shutter.

But where are her spots?

I thought maybe lady bugs are like dalmatians and Siamese cats that are born white and then color develops as they get older, but I was wrong.

The spotless lady bug is a specific species. And in fact, there are three species of spotless lady bugs.

  • Family: Coccinellidae (Lady Beetles)
  • Subfamily: Coccinellinae
  • Genus: Cycloneda (Spotless Lady Beetles)

I determined this is a C. munda because it has light yellow-brown legs, and according to  this spotless lady bug map, that’s the species that lives in Oklahoma.

I called this a “her” because its a “lady” bug after all but I can’t tell if it’s a male or a female from this picture. Next time I see her—or him—I’ll be able to tell for sure. The male has more white on the front of his face than the female.

I saw a few pictures and videos that referred to the rare spotless ladybug.

Counting lady bugs could be a fun summer project for the kids. When they whine “I’m bored!” send them into the yard to count lady bugs. If they don’t find many, buy some lady bugs at the garden store and release them into your yard. They love to eat the tiny pests that damage the plants in your yard.

Do you see very many spotless lady bugs in your area?


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