They’re Back!

It never gets old. Even though it happens every year when there are flowers aplenty, when there are baby birds that need to be fed fresh caterpillars every few minutes to squelch their squawking, the first sighting of the returning resident critters of the Fairegarden causes us to squeal with delight and run for the camera.

These early butterflies, the Eastern tiger swallowtail in particular are flitting madly from flower to flower. They seldom rest and sip as they do later in the season, allowing for the human to creep up close and click the shutter at just the right moment.

It is a mad dash of nectar grabbing on the go. It is also mad clicking, hoping for a lucky shot that might be in focus. My photography is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get until the images are uploaded on the laptop. I shoot on auto and snap with abandon, don’t even look to see what was captured until the orgy is over.

The first critter spotted and recorded for 2012 was the frog in the pond, written about here and again here. He is growing more bold as he is growing larger. He sometimes moves over to the sunnier rocks to gaze upon the water and snooze. His toes amaze me, I have a foot fetish. That might explain the attraction to shoes.

The warm weather has awoken the Eastern box turtles. Bits of mud are still showing on their shells. During the cold months, these turtles dig themselves down underground to wait out the winter. Seeing them out and about must mean spring is really here. I recognize this one from last year, she lazed around and in the pond until the very last minute before the cold settled in. I was even a little worried about her, but needlessly, it seems.

There are more photos taken of the garden during April than in any other month. Hundreds turn into thousands, but most are discarded. So much is happening, many things are blooming, all at once rather than nice and easy as would be more relaxing. It is frenetically fabulous and I don’t want to miss a moment of it. Over in the far corner, what we call the Wildflower Corner, several deciduous azaleas are in bloom. I try standing in all sorts of spots to get the most impact in one shot. The pathway is lined with leftover rubber pond liner to try to stymy the weeds. At least it is black and doesn’t jump out to hog the image.

Sometimes it pays to take our eyes off the viewfinder and look around. A ways up the rubber lined path was someone crossing the road, still covered in mud. Another turtle, this one a larger female, is headed into the blooming columbine shadows. Life is good, especially when there is wildlife with which to share it.

There are several turtles here, all Eastern box, with several posts written about them. So many posts that a page was created for them that can be seen here, listed on the sidebar.


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18 Responses to They’re Back!

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I love seeing the wildlife in your garden. You are so blessed to have Eastern Box Turtles roaming about your garden. What a treat. Like you I never tire of seeing what nature offers us.

    Hi Lisa, thanks so much. We are indeed blessed for these creatures to feel we are worthy for them to call it home here. Family visitors this past weekend even got to see the little princess turtle, with her eyes closed but head out! To think she is that comfortable here, with humans stomping around is humbling.

  2. Yes Frances I know what you mean when you get a glimpse of that first butterfly each year. I saw some about two weeks ago when my daffodils appeared. It was when we had the week of early warm weather in the 70’s. They kind of take your breath away for a second. Your pictures are beautiful.

    Hi Sandy, thanks. Every year it seems too early for butterflies, but they seem to know what the nectar flowers are open for them, whenever that happens.

  3. georgiafromga1 says:

    What a delight to have so many different kinds of wildlife attracted to your beautiful garden. That scenario with the baby birds squawking as their mother brings them food is taking place at my feeder these days and warms my heart. You’re right. Spring really is here. Hurrah!

    Hi Georgie, thanks. I love those baby birds yelling for more food! The parents can barely keep up with those big mouths! We are finally getting the cold snap that MUST happen before spring really is here for good. I hope everything makes it, including those babies.

  4. So enchanting to see such a colorful butterfly going about its business.
    Since you are such a welcoming hostess for all of your wildlife visitors, I’m wondering if you have to deal with any herds of ravenous deer? We have a woods where they are sometimes spotted but I have never been put to the test of them devouring the plants in my gardens.

    Hi Michaele, thanks. I have seen deer as close as across the street, looking up at my mostly enclosed hillside and deciding it is not a good place for them. I am glad! Sometimes lost dogs get back there and panic because it is entirely fenced with only the one path opening and such a steep, heavily planted hillside. Poor things. Groundhogs have done some damage, too. Then there are skunks…. you get the idea.

  5. Marguerite says:

    Frances, I can see why you take so many photos of your garden at this time of year, it looks stunning. I’m envious of all the magnificent greenery in your wildflower corner.

    Hi Marguerite, thanks. April is the best month here, we have the photo files to prove it! The Wildflower corner is more greenery than flowers, and the only flowers are in early spring. It is not the prettiest part of the garden, but I still like it.

  6. Lea says:

    Lovely critters!
    I went to see what my dog was barking at yesterday in the north slope garden (an area where I must clear the unwanted hedge bushes). Fearing a snake, I found instead a turtle! I got the dog distracted away from it, and hope she doesn’t bother it again.
    Have a great day!
    Lea’s Menagerie

    Hi Lea, thanks. I hope your dog doesn’t bother the turtle, they can do great damage by digging at the shell for hours on end.

  7. gittan says:

    It´s so nice to see them, they make me happy as a child on x-mas eve =) But the frog… he scares the *** out of me every time! I´m never prepared even if I know he´s in there.
    Happy spring Frances my friend / Dubbel hugs from gittan

    Hi dear Gittan, so nice to see you. The frog startles me when he jumps into the water while I am walking by, and I don’t want to pick him up or anything, but do like having him here. Happy spring to you!
    Triple kram!

  8. Jane Carroll says:


    I love all your photographs…and your garden…but…I’m most impressed today with the fly on the box turtle…what a shot!

    Hi Jane, thanks so much. I had to go back and look, did not see the fly until you mentioned it! Thanks!

  9. How fun is your post! I have a box turtle named Mr. T…he just came out 2 weeks ago..I was so excited to see him after a long winter! I’ve been documenting his visits for the past three years although he’s been coming longer than that. I bet with a pond you do get all kinds of critters…I am afraid of frogs so won’t ever have a pond…but I think they are beautiful! Your pictures are gorgeous…I love swallowtails…they aren’t here yet but the Monarchs started migrating last week and I posted about it this week too! Enjoyed my visit to your garden!
    Miss Bloomers

    Hi Miss Bloomers, thanks for adding in here. I love seeing the turtles and have tried to keep records of them here recently with the blog posts and photos. I didn’t know people were afraid of frogs, although my mother told me if I touched one it would cause warts so I never have. I do like seeing him on the rocks around the pond, but keep my distance. Lucky you to to be on the Monarch path!

  10. Catherine says:

    The wildlife seem to love your garden! We won’t see butterflies for months, although we had one very early one a month or so ago. I keep hoping for a frog for our pond. Your garden and visitors look great!

    Hi Catherine, thanks. Every year we see butterflies on the azaleas, then there is a lull until later when there are many more. This frog just kind of showed up, we are not sure where he came from, but he is welcome.

  11. commonweeder says:

    Your gardens are beautiful in every season, but it is easy to understand why April is the big month for photographs. So much bloom. So much life! I am so glad you are so willing to share the Fairegarden with all of us.

    Hi Pat, thanks for those sweet words! It is true that there is something pretty here all year, I have worked hard to make that so, but April is THE month of blooms. I love it.

  12. Dee says:

    I started gardening for the flowers. I stayed for the critters. Thanks be to God for all the good things which fly, creep and crawl.~~Dee

    Wise words, Dee, very wise words.

  13. Chiot's Run says:

    I spotted a swallowtail on my tulips last week. So happy to be seeing signs of life in the garden once again – breathes life into my soul!

    Hi Chiot’s, thanks for adding in to the conversation. Every new sighting is exciting, we all know how it feels when we see the flutterbys and other critters. Life into our soul, YES!

  14. I tell people I garden for wildlife and me…Still too cold for much to be waking up but the weekend looks like a change may be coming….lovely wildlife!

    Hi Donna, thanks. Change is good, especially when it is the turning from cold and wintry to warm and full of life!

  15. I too get excited when I see the first butterfly, hummingbird or lizard of the season! I laughed at your comparison of your photos to a box of chocolates! The butterflies are fast and furious and it is truely difficult to get a good shot of them now. Happy Spring!

    Hi Karin, Happy Spring to you too! Seeing the creatures is very exciting, knowing you are providing a place of safety and happiness for them makes it all worthwhile, doesn’t it?

  16. Beautiful post and macros Frances. The critter parade is lovely.

    Thanks Donna. It is heartening to see the critters return.

  17. Gail says:

    Frances, They’re delightful! Fantstic photos, too. I’ve seen a few butterfly and skippers but none of the bigger beauties~yet! xoxogail

    Hi Gail, thanks. I have seen the little cuties, too, so enjoy them. I had to get the camera out for the swallowtail. It is a fine line between just enjoying them and wanting to take a photo.

  18. spurge says:

    What wonderful visitors you have – I especially love your turtles! Your azaleas look so delicate and lovely.

    Thaks Spurge. I love the turtles, too, especially the young female. She doesn’t pull inside her shell when I am near, will look me right in the eye, then blink. I love it!

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