Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge: Purple

One doesn’t usually think of purple when they think of fall colors so at first I figured that this would be one “Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge” week that I would skip.  The challenge colors for the four weeks of October were green, yellow, orange and red, all colors that we think of when we think of beautiful fall foliage.  But purple?!!!  Then it hit me: ASTERS!!!  Asters bloom in the fall and asters are various shades of PURPLE!!!  As an added bonus, asters attract bees and butterflies!  So here are some photos featuring the color purple, mostly asters, and all with a special visitor.  The first is of a beautiful giant swallowtail in a pretty clump of asters.  The giant swallowtail lives up to its’ name: it’s the largest swallowtail in the Midwest with a wingspan between 5 & 6 inches!

Asters are a favorite flower of migrating monarchs.  Here’s a monarch on native New England aster:

Bees love asters too.  Here’s a bumblebee enjoying one:

Here’s another bumblebee: this one is on verbena bonariensis, also known as tall verbena.

Butterfly bushes also come in shades of purple and they bloom well into the fall.  Here’s a tiger swallowtail nectaring on a light purple butterfly bush:

There’s more great photos featuring the color purple at:

Be sure to check them out!!!

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Finally…….

………seeing a few monarchs flying through my backyard.  Way, way fewer than last year since the population is down this year due to the cool, rainy spring we had.  So many caterpillars just couldn’t survive it!  So it’s a real treat to have one nectaring in my yard, such as this beauty:

I usually see an Eastern tiger swallowtail in my yard every day.  Here’s one dining on coneflower:

I was very excited the other day to have a giant swallowtail spend quite a bit of time nectaring on my coneflowers and swamp milkweed.  Such a beautiful butterfly, and huge too!  It’s the largest butterfly in North America with a wingspan of up to six inches.  Here’s the one that visited my backyard:

Other butterfly visitors have included the oh-so-common cabbage whites as well as skippers and blues.  I keep planting more and more butterfly plants in hopes of getting a greater variety of these winged beauties!

Baby Bunnies!

A large bunny was spotted a couple of times by my husband and daughter last week just sitting in the flowers that are under the crabapple tree on our front lawn.  It was a picture perfect scene but neither of them had a camera handy.  A few days ago, we found out why the bunny was just sitting there: she was actually on the nest which was home to her three babies!  By the time we discovered this, the bunnies were a day away from leaving the nest but at least I was able to capture some pictures of them.  Here’s one peeking out of the nest:

Another bunny was just sitting in my “White Nancy” lamium:

The third one was hopping about on our lawn and then went to hide in the shrubs.  The next day, none of them could be found anywhere.  Even though they were as cute as can be, I’m glad they moved on!  I sure don’t want them munching on my flowers and veggie plants!

First Hummingbird of the Season!

Last week I checked Journey North’s website to see how close the ruby throated hummingbirds were to Michigan.  I was so surprised to find that THEY’RE HERE!!!  So I put my hummingbird feeder out the evening of April 30th and on May 1st, two hummers visited it!  This it the earliest date I have ever had hummingbirds visit my backyard!

 This female hummingbird visited my backyard a couple of summers ago.  I hope to be able to photograph a lot more of them this summer!

Backyard Drama

A drama played out in our backyard today:  A red squirrel carried her baby up to one of our birdhouses.

Closer……

…….and closer……..

……to the opening where she tried to stuff him in.

But she dropped him. THREE TIMES!

She eventually carried him up into the trees and came back without him.  Later in the evening, she brought him back and managed to FINALLY stuff him into the birdhouse!  Here she is peeking out after her success!

And here she is guarding the birdhouse with her babies inside. (My husband Mark had watched her put another baby in earlier in the day so we know that there’s at least two babies in there!).