Friday, June 29, 2007

Beating the birds to the blueberries and bug pictures



The blueberries are ripening at a quick pace now. The mulberry trees are almost done fruiting and the birds will start to pick at the blueberries so it's a battle to see who can get the ripe berries first. Birds love the mulberry more than any other fruit, so as long as they are available the other fruits are usually safe from predation.

But... you can see a bird peck on one of the unripe blueberries in the first photo - the pink one on the right. They usually only go for the ripe berries but I guess this bird was testing the fruit already! In fact there were a few ripe ones that were half eaten so I won't be picking any berries from plants near the bird feeders soon. The ones around the deck are safe for now but even those will go later on.

This is a good year for blueberries despite the late freeze we had. The plants are loaded with fruit. I've already picked about 3 quarts. The service berries on the other hand were a bust. Almost no fruit this year.


And... a green leafhopper on a red lily. I wonder if leafhoppers are colorblind. The green color of its body is close to the same value as the red lily so to a colorblind animal or predator the leafhopper wouldn't be so evident. If you squint (a lot), you can see that the leafhopper blends into the flower.

The photo isn't very sharp because the bug was so small, about 3/16 inch and it was difficult to focus the camera on such a small object but I love the weird striped eyes.


And...a spider hiding in the folds of a flower.

10 Comments:

Blogger Kylee said...

I love the leafhopper photo!

And your lilies are gorgeous! Are any of them very fragrant? The blotchy one is really cool.

Are you growing any of your blueberries in pots? I've thought about doing that...

7:21 AM  
Blogger lisa said...

GREAT pics! That leafhopper is so funky-looking, like a sea creature of some sort. And blueberries...yum...my mom made peach/blueberry jam one year but it turned out kinda runny, so we used it for pancake syrup-absolutely outta site!

7:50 AM  
Blogger DeeMom said...

Love the Bug!
I LOVE BLUEBERRIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have netting over a homemade trellis that covers the berry bushes. Seems to work quite well. As for the blueberries none make it in the house, I weed and munch! ;)

Filled Blueberry Crepes
*
Crepes:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
dash salt
3 Tbl melted butter
*
Filling:
8 oz. softened cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
juice and grated rind of one lemon
*
To make crepes, wisk eggs till smooth. Alternately wisk in milk and flour. Add salt. Wisk till smooth. Add melted butter and wisk till well mixed. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour before frying crepes.
*
To fry, lightly butter a 8 inch crepe pan. Place on medium high heat. Add enough mixture to coat the bottom of the pan when rolled. Fry on one side till crepe is lightly browned. Flip and do other side for 10 to 15 seconds. Remove from pan and make another.
*
To make filling, whip softened cream cheese, sugar, lemon and zest till smooth.To make finished crepes, spread some of the cheese mixture on each crepe and roll up. Place crepes into an oven proof dish that has been sprayed with Pam. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
*
To serve, place two or three crepes on a plate and top with blueberry sauce, slivered with almonds and 10X sugar. Crepes are also very good when served with fresh peaches or fresh strawberries. Makes 14 to 16 crepes.
****************
Filled Blueberry Crepes
*
Crepes:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
dash salt
3 Tbl melted butter
*
Filling:
8 oz. softened cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
juice and grated rind of one lemon
*
To make crepes, wisk eggs till smooth. Alternately wisk in milk and flour. Add salt. Wisk till smooth. Add melted butter and wisk till well mixed. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour before frying crepes.
*
To fry, lightly butter a 8 inch crepe pan. Place on medium high heat. Add enough mixture to coat the bottom of the pan when rolled. Fry on one side till crepe is lightly browned. Flip and do other side for 10 to 15 seconds. Remove from pan and make another.
*
To make filling, whip softened cream cheese, sugar, lemon and zest till smooth.To make finished crepes, spread some of the cheese mixture on each crepe and roll up. Place crepes into an oven proof dish that has been sprayed with Pam. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
*
To serve, place two or three crepes on a plate and top with blueberry sauce, slivered with almonds and 10X sugar. Crepes are also very good when served with fresh peaches or fresh strawberries. Makes 14 to 16 crepes.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kylee,
I was taking photos of the lilies and there it was a speck of green on a red lily. Usually they jump/fly away but this one stayed where it was in spite of the looming camera. It looks like it's drinking water - at least its mouth looks to be touching the drop above it.

Only the oriental lily third from the top is slightly fragrant not like the Lilium Formosanum which a friend planted in her garden. You could smell it from across the yard.

All our blueberries are planted in the ground. There is a specific blueberry advertised as a perfect pot plant but I don't know the name of it. The regular blueberries take a while to get established unless you buy a really good sized plant so I don't know if they'll be very happy in a pot.

--------------------------------

Hi Lisa,
The foreshortening makes the leafhopper weirder than it is. Your mom is an adventurous cook to mix blueberries with peaches. I would never have thought that combination would work buy why not? We should try a peach and blueberry pie. Actually one of the best pies I ever tasted was a mixed fruit pie. A combination of apple, pear and plum. I don't know why we aren't more experimental with combinations of fruit. I guess in something as traditional a pie makes one parochial. Gotta bust loose.

--------------------------------

Hi deemom,
I know, one for the pot, one to eat. One for the pot, two to eat. Pretty soon it's none for the pot!
Ummm!, the blueberry crepes sound really delish. We'll have to whip up a batch. Thanks a lot for the recipe. I could see the crepes surrounded by some of Lisa's mother's peach and blueberry jam.

6:45 PM  
Blogger La Gringa said...

Save those blueberries from the bugs! Oh, how I love blueberries and I never see them here in Honduras either fresh or frozen, even though they are grown here for export. It's not fair!

Blueberry crepes--that does sound delicious.

Your photos are just incredibly beautiful and the black background sets them off very nicely.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Entangled said...

Wow, I've never seen a leafhopper at such close range before - what a cool picture!

That's an interesting observation about the birds and mulberries. I was considering planting some fruit trees at our new house, but wondered if I'd really get to harvest anything from them.

We have wild blueberries in the woods. The birds and other critters got most of them, but that's OK. I tasted a couple berries, and although they were sweet, they didn't have much other flavor.

5:27 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi La Gringa,
I'm surprised you can grow blueberries in Honduras! Funny they would only grow it for export though. Thanks about the photos. I think the dark background enhances the pictures too.
I hope you survived your birthday inebriation...oh, uhn, celebration. ;)

------------------------------------

Hi entangled,
You're viewing the leafhopper almost head on so it doesn't look like you normally see it with a more elongated body. Thanks, I couldn't resist taking pictures of it especially when it was green on the red background. Luckily I had my macro lens with me. Too bad I couldn't focus it better but the macro lens has a bad/small depth of field (DOF) focus range and even with the macro lens the bug was still fairly small so difficult to determine what I wanted in focus.

I first found out about birds loving mulberries because I planted several serviceberries and read that I would have to fight the birds for the fruit. It's true that the birds would get a few but I was able to harvest all the seviceberries I wanted in the dark black purple ripe stage. I later read about the mulberries and noted that we had many trees in the neighborhood and when the mulberries were done the predation of the blueberries and remaining serviceberries would start in earnest.

I thought the wild ones or small ones would be the best tasting blueberries but not so. It seems the bigger varieties that I have produce the sweeter and more flavorful berries. The small ones are also a PITA to pick.

The only other fruit I've been able to grow without spraying are plums. But I got tired of fighting the birds for the fruit.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Kati said...

Here's a solution I know works -- get into falconry! A commercial pick-your-own near us hires a raptor-handler to come by with one of his birds periodically...

8:21 AM  
Blogger kate said...

Those blueberries look delicious. Trying to get to them before the birds do will be a challenge!

Your photographs are always wonderful ... the leafhpper is cool!

9:14 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kati,
We had a pair of mating sharpshinned hawks earlier this spring but I haven't seen them in more than a month. They probably migrated further north. We also had a redtailed hawk but haven't seen it in a while either. Where are they when you need them? Actually we get our share of blueberries so I don't begrudge the birds for taking a few. I don't like it when they just peck at the fruit and ruining it. The blueberries that surround our deck are pretty safe until the cowbirds and catbirds get really desperate for fruit. We actually love birds and attract them with birdfeeders and baths and I'm sure they eat insect pests so we would not consider going into falconry . Well maybe not never...;)

-----------------------------------

Hi Kate,
Since we use the blueberries mostly for pies except for the occasional one that ends up in my mouth, I pick any berries that are even close to being ripe. Some have the reddish pink color near the stem end and by picking them a bit early I beat the birds to the fruit. I found that if you leave the almost ripe fruit out for a day it will turn completely blue black.

Thanks for the compliment. The leafhopper was a lucky happenstance. But there are other weird and interesting tiny bugs and flies in the garden that I want to photograph if they would only keep still while I mess with the camera.

5:20 PM  

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