Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 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 as well as 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.

In January of this year, we got a little snow and I was able to practice using the macro lens that I got in 2015 on some snowflakes. I think I can still improve, so I hope to be able to have another go in 2017.

Brown-headed nuthatch

February can be another month with little plant action so camera shots continue to focus on other things like birds (brown-headed nuthatch on snag near driveway at left) and the beauty of raindrops (above right, the stripes are a reflection of the fence behind it).

I was visiting a friend’s large property in March when I got a chance to see something really unusual – an owl pellet. It is the remains of one or more meals and contains the indigestible parts (bones, as you can see, fur, and other things). The pellet is regurgitated not passed as feces.

Owl pellet

Goldfinches are fast little birds and I don’t often get to see one up close. I see them feeding on my seedheads but they are quick to leave when the camera gets too close. I had a seed bag up in April and was able to catch a picture of this beautiful male.

Bumblebee on Styrax americanus

May is a busy bee time and, as I look through my pictures, that is when I start to have a lot of them. An American styrax (Styrax americanus) that I purchased recently was very popular with bees. I sure look forward to seeing the bees come out each year, each species carefully attuned to arrive when pollen and nectar are available for them.

I was gone for half of June this year, exploring the Wild West with my daughter. It was fun to see new flora (and fauna!) and to see relatives of species that we have in Georgia.

Butterflies have a long season in Georgia (I just saw an orange Sulphur the other day!) but July was a particularly fantastic month and I saw two new-to-me butterflies in the yard. I wrote about the Viceroy in July while extolling the pollinator feast on devil's walking stick (Aralia spinosa). The other new butterfly was a Great Spangled Fritillary that was very fond of a native thistle (Cirsium).

Great Spangled Fritillary
Blue dasher dragonfly

Thanks in part to my neighbor’s pond, dragonflies are always around in my yard. I have seen 6-7 species over time (probably more if I could discern some of the finer details), but this species (Pachydiplax longipennis) is always particularly abundant (and friendly). This picture of a male is from August.

Surprises in my garden are delightful and this September found me swooning over the blooms of (Agalinis purpurea). I had gathered some seeds from a wild area adjacent to a shopping center (what some might call a “waste” area!) and thrown them into the sunny bed last year. If you read my Summer Greens post in August then you certainly can understand how I might have overlooked a couple of new plants hiding in the midst. This genus needs to have some native grasses nearby (it is hemiparasitic on the roots of grasses), so it luckily found what it needed here. I hope it sprouts again there in 2017.
Agalinis purpurea
Virginia creeper fruit
Another success story showed up in October – my Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) flowered and bore fruit after years of climbing up the side of the house to the second story deck. 

Not many people would cheer about having more Virginia creeper, but I grow it for the birds and the caterpillars that use its foliage. I do regularly pull some of the vines off the house (they come off easily) but this one got to stay long enough to do its thing.

Gentiana saponaria
I have blue gentian (Gentiana saponaria) naturally on the property but the deer browse them. I put some rescued gentians inside my pool fence this year and they flowered in November. Their bright blue flowers were a surprise and a delight almost hiding under a robust group of heart-leaved asters. Yes, things get a bit crowded inside the fence!

A trip to Williamsburg in December had me checking out the natural decorations along Duke of Gloucester street. You can see a post about the native plant materials used in some of them in this blog post from a late winter visit in 2014. The decorations can vary from year to year, and this year I found a beautiful wreath with dried sunflower heads (Helianthus) and sumac fruits (Rhus).

I wish you a Happy New Year, full of beautiful and productive encounters with our native wonders.

P.S. The log featuring the "2016" was a longtime snag (5+ years) next to my driveway that finally fell this year. It helped me get a number of great bird shots over the last few years, including the one in February above.


  1. I love all flowers but I have a special fondness for blue ones. Your blue gentian is lovely.

  2. It's fun to look back through photos and find there many great captures that don't make it on the blog. I've never seen fruit on any of the Virginia creeper growing on our property. Yours is impressive. I hope the birds enjoyed it! Cheers to more wildlife adventures in 2017!