The juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker first seen this past weekend was again on the peanut feeder, hacking away at pieces of nut. Seems strange – I know they’re woodpeckers but……..sapsucker??
And a Ruby-throated Hummingbird is still working the Canna lily flowers.
Despite being World Sauntering Day, weather and other activities have dictated that this is the day when I finally get the dahlias, currently in pots after overwintering as tubers, into their summer bed. Viewing the bed made me decide that this was also the time to remove all the rather invasive dark-leafed plant with yellow flowers; although it forms a pleasant backdrop to the bed it does try to compete with the dahlias which I put so much hard work into.
Two and a half hours later, most of it is out and I can get on with the original planned job. Retreating to a seat on the deck the garden was suddenly invaded by young starlings which had apparently been waiting in the trees until I removed myself from the garden. I’ve noticed before a lot of birds don’t seem to “see” us on the deck.
So far spring has been much colder than last year and maybe a bit cooler than usual; snowdrops are lasting well and the clumps seem to be expanding, possibly following the wet summer last year. Large clumps of purple crocuses have appeared everywhere – must remember to buy white or yellow or those little mauve species ones in the fall. On the other hand the purple ones do not suffer damage by squirrels or birds as yellow ones do.
I’m going to England next week so grabbed the opportunity of a sunny interval to plant out the indoor hyacinths from this winter. I also managed to cut down some of the dead stems which were obscuring crocus blooms – mixed feelings about that as what I can see better, so can the squirrels…and Mr Bunny who has been much in evidence lately. The question is: who is guilty of nibbling tulips shoots??
1 March the Easter Bunny arrived early – we usually see an Eastern Cottontail hopping around, often over snow, around Easter. This year he was early.
7 March Having failed us last weekend (for FeederWatch) the Red-bellied Woodpecker has arrived in the garden for the past three mornings at 7.25am. Don’t know what he’ll do this weekend when the clocks change……..
The Flockette are still around but not so frequently seen as a tight group and male cardinals are starting to sing. The scientific speculation about so many groups of cardinals seen this winter blames the weather: thick snow frequently frozen after rain has become an impenetrable layer for ground feeders so they are forced to use feeders more.
Worryingly, the pair of Carolina Wrens has not been seen for a week, following the latest spell of very cold temperatures.
14 February saw the arrival of the biggest flock of Mourning Doves yet this winter: eight, scrambling all over the birdfeeders, trying to establish footholds; some of them were also showing signs of seasonal behaviour, waddling after one another.
16 February both Carolina Wrens returned to the feeders, both looking healthy.
The Flockette as I have taken to calling the three female cardinals who come to the feeders together, were present again over the weekend just past and have indeed made regular appearances for several weeks now. There are also two males and another female, possibly paired with one of the males, who are seen fairly regularly.
The two Carolina Wrens and Red-bellied Woodpecker are also still much in evidence.
Today, 21 January, we are in one of our cold snaps with daytime temperatures around minus 15°C, nightime lower than -20, forecast to last most of the week. I went out to clear snow so I could reach the bird feeders but found I did not need to because I only sank about 4″ into the frozen snow which is a lot deeper but packed and frozen hard.
First day of New Year 2013: the two Carolina Wrens which had spent the previous week or so hanging round the feeders, especially the weekend 30/31 Dec, were notable by their absence which was worrying because the previous day had been cold and the night even colder. The flockette of cardinals is still around although not quite so many seen at once.
2 January Another cold start (-15) but no wind after more snow overnight. Both Carolina Wrens reappeared fairly early so maybe the cold wind yesterday had kept them hunkered down wherever they roost.
Unusual, that is not previously observed, behaviour among the cardinals this morning. For some weeks I have seen two females, one with a male and one on her own which was usually chased away by the pair; yesterday the loner had reinforced her ranks by one and today there are three unattached females. The three seem to travel as a group although not approaching one another much closer than about a foot; the pair try to chase them away but do not really put much effort into it.
Previous winters it has been clear that our garden was divided into two cardinal territories, more or less on either side of the garden, each maintained by a pair. So what has changed? This is the first winter we have had only one area of bird feeders, in the place of the old feeder pole furthest from the house; we have also left the curtains up on the deck canopy; although they are bunched into the corners they present a larger visual presence than the pillars so perhaps offer more of a sheltered feel. The bird bath is being used by more species than previously observed, especially the Red-breasted Nuthatch(es?).
Later I was able to see that the flock of cardinals was feeding on the Buckthorn berries on the tree in the back corner, just like starlings and waxwings.
The following morning after snow and freezing rain overnight and more starting, there was a lot of bird activity: the redpolls which had arrived yesterday were still around, the Carolina Wren arrived early and then brought a friend later – I’m sure they know when it is a FeederWatch day so they avoid being counted! However, the Red-bellied Woodpecker did show up on the right day.
It is 18 months at least since the butternut tree was felled, so the second winter without it. Shrubs have grown up more in the cat run bed near the house but the feeders which were near the deck last year have been moved to the further site. It will be interesting to see if the group of unaccompanied female cardinals continues to come and if they attract males.
20 December: three males as well as the three females around the feeders – together for Christmas??
As usual, where did the summer go? After our visit to Newfoundland and Labrador in late June/early July it got really hot and now we’re back from Kenauk and it is distinctly cool by comparison. However, warm enough to work in comfort in the garden with only a smock to protect my clothes.
Very satisfied with continuous flower colour from early spring (first thaw) until now. Currently (22 Sept) we have a few last phlox and the odd rose bloom, autumn crocus nearly over,dark pink asters at front just starting to bloom, David’s hibiscus still doing well, dahlias still magnificent as well as window boxes of petunias and pots of geraniums, heliotrope, ipomea (dark red leaf), hanging baskets, canna lilies and acidanthera all still in bloom, if not quite as tidy as a few weeks ago.
However, time to start work for months ahead: R dug up the little sapling from the pagoda dogwood and I started repotting lilies which had died back into plastic pots to be sunk in the holding bed.
Fireflies first seen this weekend (15/16) although that was also the first time I remembered to look for them.
We have never had so many flowers in bloom at once before; partly our plantings are maturing but also the unusual weather patterns that delayed some things and then brought others on early has helped. The Heidi peonies bloomed earlier this year and are settling in although one is badly positioned if it is not going to get much taller. More rainfall has resulted in huge burgeoning growth which now needs watering…..
Goldfinches have been more active around the garden after not being much in evidence for a few weeks. They are using the ceramic hanging bird bath and eating niger seed from the feeders, males chasing one another away from females so the year is moving on for them. Toads were trilling in the pond again when the sprinkler was “raining” into the pond so Inspector Crow has left a few.