Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Not just plants...we love animals too!

Ladybugs on Asclepias asperula

I have been accused of having a bit of an obsession with the Plant Kingdom, and since I notice that I may be closing in on a thousand blog postings before too terribly long, I thought it would be only fair to show that I've taken at least a few pictures of creatures in other kingdoms (I'll leave fungi for another blog perhaps)...

Bumblebees on Allium togashii

I haven't gone through my whole image library: I know I have quite a few pics of bees and dozens of butterfly pictures (which will have to constitute another blog post)..

I regret 1) that I didn't take a closeup of these beetles. I believe they're on an umbel (Celeriac perhaps?)

Cochineal on Opuntia spp
A few patches of cochineal are tolerated at Denver Botanic Gardens for the children's education program...

Honeybee on Delosperma 'Granita Orange'
My last insect picture is really a preamble to a sort of apology: I was given a copy of Tallamy's book almost a decade ago. I skimmed through and discounted what has certainly become one of the most popular (and deservedly so) volumes on gardening ever written. I eventually met (and heard) Doug four or five years ago. My initial objections to his philosophy was his discounting exotic flowers I felt categorically. I believe he's mellowed. And I've certainly come to my senses.

Of course Tallamy emphasizes natives, and he should: the theme of the book--namely that current gardening practices (lawn worship, planting only cultivars, excessive use of pesticides) are devastating to insect populations.That we should plant plants that encourage insects and that we should realize that a garden full of insects is a GOOD thing, signifying that it's a healthy garden and one full of "ecological services" a great phrase! Of course, one of the GREATEST lessons his book drives home is that birds need those insects in enormous numbers. If we want birds, we better plant lots of plants that attract them, and especially the insects they need to survive!

Goldfinch with Eremurus robustus in the background
I've been very lucky in recent years to become friends with many birders. A sort of irony, since my ex-wife blamed our marriage for snuffing her birding tendencies! Well--I may not qualify as a birder, but I love birds, and goldfinches are among my favorites. I recently purchased the Birds of Bhutan from Daedalus at a bargain price. I am astonished at the variety of birds there that I'd never heard of--the book is a perfect bathroom accessory by the way (to read I mean). I'd be curious to know if there were a way to measure, but I;m sure Tallamy's book may one day be seen as having impacted the environment sort of the way "Silent Spring" altered use of pesticides--raising awareness around gardening that benefits insects, birds and the planet. Thank you,  Doug!

The goldfinches are worth it...

This immature redtailed hawk swooped within feet of me and snatched one our beloved garter snakes that was basking near me as I weeded my garden a few months ago...

And then the damn bird perched on top of a pine not far from me and began munching down on our pet snake...I even managed a Youtube video of the dastardly act...

Snake on the snow
I have quite a few pictures of our beautiful golden banded garter snakes--but don't want to spook some friends of mine (Matt Mattus you know who you are) with garter snake phobias...

And if you didn't see the video, here's a still of the same thing...I love raptors, but wish they'd stick to our abundant rabbits!

Goshawk at Cherokee Ranch
Apropos of raptors, I have quite a series of pictures of them I've taken over the years at Cherokee Ranch: they often have Raptor rescue staff bringing in their wards to show off when I lead field trips there (a nice bonus when they do that). If you've never been on my Cherokee Ranch hikes you ought to (countless hundreds of people have been on these hikes over the last decade!)

And we see turkeys almost every field trip: I hate to think of how many danged pictures of turkeys I keep taking there...

Golden eagle
I didn't take this picture, my friend Lynn Wilcockson did on one of our field trips...he's one of those birding friends I mentooned...

Himalayan pika on Serkyem La in Tibet
This next series was incredibly fortunate: about ten of us accidentally semi-circled a pika den on a pass in Tibet. The pika emerged from its hole and everywhere it looked there were people. It was stunned and spent long enough wondering what to do that we were able to get some ridiculously closeup shots!

Ironic I've never gotten this close to our abundant Rocky Mountain pikas! Oh yes, I remember now I did--on Beartooth Pass or the Bighorns. I must find that picture and add it one day for comparison purposes!

Eventually it saw an escape route and skedaddled!

And finally last April my beloved first cousin Eleni drove me to Aegina--an island not too far from Athens that I'd wanted to visit for years and years: on our way back we enjoyed the sunset from the ferry at the end of a magical day. I can assure you this seagull was not named Jonathan Livingston, but I was delighted to have captured this shot. Animals are very good. And life is precious. Please vote.


  1. Such a lovely post, Panayoti. Thank you for this cheery spot in my day!

  2. Oh how wonderful. I love all of your critter photos. I would just die if I saw a Hawk take my pet snake. Here I usually see them take doves and cardinals. That is bad enough. I can just imagine the critters you see on your many travels. I travel vicariously through your photos. Keep up the good work. Cheers.

  3. If you were on television talking about animals, people would be calling you a national treasure. That’s what they say about David Attenborough. It is too bad more people don’t like plants.

    My village began planting oak trees along parkways, even before Doug Tallamy’s book was published. Over time, as the trees have grown, I have been seeing more an more caterpillars. Not just the inch worms either, this year I found two Polyphemus cocoons. I wonder how many more are up in the tree where I can’t see them.


Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive