Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 in Pictures

I take a lot of pictures throughout the year and not all of them make it into a blog post. At the end of the calendar year, it’s a good time to reflect on the beauty of nature and share some of the extra pictures.

I believe that each day is an opportunity to find and appreciate something beautiful in the native plants and creatures of Georgia.

Spiraea virginiana

In January, this Spiraea virginiana was still putting on a delightful color show on my back porch (where it thrived in the absence of deer). The plant by the front walk never makes it that far although I keep it sprayed enough to have flowers in May.

February brought a mixture of blue and gray days as usual. This red-shouldered hawk is a regular in my woods, and for once I was able to take a pretty close picture of it as we both enjoyed the blue sky.

A few weeks later, gray skies brought snowflakes and I tried to capture a few of them. Now I have a new macro lens so I hope we get a few flakes in 2016.

Red-shouldered hawk
One snowflake stood out from the jumble of others

Stellaria pubera

March is an intensely floral month in Georgia and there is no shortage of gorgeous native flowers to photograph. Here is one of the underappreciated flowers of the native woodland - star chickweed (Stellaria pubera).

The floral show continues in April, but the addition of butterflies makes the outdoor experience all the more exciting. A picture of a flower with a native pollinator is the highest achievement for me.

We had a surprise visitor this month – a sharp-shinned hawk drove a mourning dove into a window and then rested for a bit before carrying it off to eat it.

Tiger swallowtail on native azalea
Sharp shinned hawk

Cordyceps fungus on insect

The weather is always fine in May so I headed to Blairsville for a 3-day botanical romp with the Georgia Botanical Society.

One of the interesting things to find was a fungus that had taken over an insect host. All those gray strands are the fungus coming out.

Prunus angustifolia

My native plum tree (Prunus angustifolia) produced fruit this year, the small green fruits turning various shades of pink and red throughout the month of June.

I also discovered that this plum is suckering like mad (which is typical for this species). I plan to dig up some of those suckers over the winter.

A pair of wrens raised some chicks in our front yard in July. It was amazing to think of how many bugs they must have caught and fed to those babies before they were big enough to leave the nest. It was only a couple of weeks and then they were gone.

Chamaecrista fasciculata

I was excited to find a wild population of partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) in August. It is the host plant for the cloudless sulphur butterfly so I’d been looking to find some. The flowers are very popular with bees too. I was able to gather some seeds to scatter in my yard so let’s hope it comes up next year.

Common buckeye butterfly

There were more butterflies this year than last year. This common buckeye butterfly was the first one of that species that I’d ever seen in my garden.  I was so excited that I used photo software to make it look like there were two ....

Cloudless sulphur emerges

Last year I was able to raise a monarch and this year I did too (in the spacious arrangement of a new caterpillar cage that my husband built for me). I also raised many other butterflies including Gulf fritillaries and cloudless sulphurs.

Pileated woodpecker

I have long heard and seen pileated woodpeckers in the woods around my house. This year one was in perfect photo range on a dead pine tree next to the driveway (that dead pine tree has been very good to the birds in my yard the last two years!).

Throughout the year I look to find plants that I can photograph for my collection of native plant pictures. Normally mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) is out of my range as the plants are high up in the trees. This year I found some in smaller trees and was able to snap some photos.

Phoradendron leucarpum
All in all, 2015 was a good year for photos, for plants and for wildlife. I look forward to more in 2016!


  1. Great post. Super photos: the birds, butterflies and the plum tree! Thanks for a wonderful year of posts.