Friday, July 03, 2015

Avian Update

For most of the summer I have seen birds darting here and there, but nothing in the many bird boxes that we have.  We did see one box had chickadees, but they must have fledged before we returned from France.

Yes, cardinals nest in trees, but what about the other birds?  Finally a little wren has picked the woven bird house hanging under an eve by the front door for probably her second batch of little ones, as we are well into summer.  She screeches at me as I come and go, but I think their personalities are such that they need someone to scold, or why else do they nest so close to houses?

 This morning I discovered another wren family is nest building on this mid-summer day, carrying in soft grasses.  Must be a second batch of little ones coming.  This is in a box inside the garden, which means they will eat our bad bugs!

I also have watched a cardinal sitting on a nest in the crepe myrtle tree in my front flower bed as I weed.  No little baby head has shown itself, but she is still sitting on some days if the weather is not horrible hot.  

Yes, a bad photo, but you can see her bill.
 I also noticed a nest in the Japanese cutleaf maple under the front bay window.  A female cardinal was tending it, but it has not been used at all for egg laying.  Maybe it is a secondary nest for distraction to predators?  It is certainly beautifully made.  A cardinal did successfully raise two little ones in this tree a few years ago.

  Our osprey couple is tending two awkward and spotted fledglings.  I am totally amazed they have not fallen out of the nest as they balance and flap their large wings on the skewed sticks.  Yesterday the Parks and Rec boat came by, placed a ladder against the post, remove the two teenagers and banded them and then returned them traumatizing the whole family, even though it took only a minute or two.  The lead scientist has been doing this for over twenty years.  Mrs. Osprey, Ethel, is now even more crazy/angry when we go to our dock.  We were told she is about three weeks behind schedule with her family!  Last year she had none, and must have lost the eggs in some way, so we are happy to see two this year.

Apologies for the blurriness.  It was too hot to carry around my tripod!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Too Much?

It has been a time of rains, tremendous rains. Three inches in one day! Floods along some low parts of highways and roads, but no flooding of homes...even tornado warnings in areas close to the Bay, but no touch scores, thank goodness.

After these rich drops of water, filled with injected nitrogen via the lightning, arrive the chemistry has made the green jungle stretch and grow and overshadow all.  As I drive down various roads it almost seems as if the branches of the trees are long arms with claws reaching across the road to grab me up.  Heavy pulsing greens are everywhere.  If you pause you CAN hear the woods breathing.  You CAN see them growing.

My flowers are tall and full of blooms, the raspberries are abundant if a bit waterlogged lacking their usual sugars, the vegetables continue to grow with each sunny day that follows.

The birds hang tight to their power washed houses and it appears they are surviving as they have chosen their locations well.  Even my osprey family is doing well with two new young birds eating them out of house and home.

There are blossom petals everywhere:  beneath the pomegranate tree, below the long spines of the hostas, and on the bushes beneath  the last of the blooming clematis as each pale purple petal falls.  

It has been a strange and rich summer thus far.  Each rain brings a small window of moderate temperatures, but I know these will be followed just a day later by the sauna...that is free.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Keep Moving

These are the days where you can only stay cool if you keep moving!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Spiritual Poetry

"Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”.19 His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”.20 Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled."    A small part of the Pope's encyclical for June 2015.  No, I am not Catholic nor catholic, I am not even a Christian in clear analysis, but I am spiritual and this Pope is a spiritual poet that has restored my soul.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

In Flight

Is this a natural fluctuation or a sign of a problem?  I live in my small world and only see things by comparing season to season and forgetting information at the far end.  I do not have actual data over decades, but even if I did, it would only be anecdotal as my small part of the environment.  Summer is here and I think I am seeing a few honeybees.  In the past I have had a huge collection of pollinators, but never honeybees!  (Below is a bumblebee.)

I have lost my bluebirds.  Not a one, when I had half a dozen last year!

Butterflies...zebra swallowtails because I have a couple of paw paw trees for larval food. 

The odd skipper or two and a sulfur and yesterday my first fritillary butterfly.  Waiting always for the rare Monarchs!

My butterfly weed plants are huge this year, so I do have my hopes up that Monarch will come for the feast...

A few facts thatt may be of interest:  butterflies have been around at least as long as 3.500 years;  some, like the Monarchs, can fly 2,000 miles;  9-10 months is the longest lifetime of a butterfly;  many butterflies can taste with their feet and thus know whether the leaf is a good one on which to lay their eggs; and top flight speed is 12 miles per hour!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Flying Saucers

All that it takes is one angry thunderstorm and we had two and each an evening apart.  I was awakened by the explosions,the  light shards through the windows and then the angry sound of heavy pelting rain as if trying to drive me outside.  We did need the moisture because our weather has been still and hot.  When I go out early the next morning, barefoot, across the grass and return to a place where a tree died a long time ago I see the familiar fungus appearing.  I missed the photo where it looks like little golf balls.  By day two you can recognize them as mushrooms.

They are easily the size of dessert plates by the next day and look good tasting by day three and they have come up for three years in the same place.

I have observed the squirrels eating them, but only a taste, so I guess they are not all that healthy or perhaps delicious.

By day four they have become flying saucers.

Then by day five they start to deflate like a bad meringue pie.  Soon they are black puddles of stink, and I will spare you that photo!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

It is Here

Such an amazing transition from when spring with its delicate yellows and greens and filamentous shoots dancing against the sunlight in a cool afternoon breeze that flirts and teases and makes you more beautiful than you were...

...can overnight turn into a green monster breathing heavily and pulsing with elephantine activity.  Air that becomes so thick with moisture, just standing in the shade can cause one to perspire.  Air that sighs and wheezes and moves like an animal in heat. 

Yes, it is here in all its glory and now I am waiting for the temper tantrums that usually come along...