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.
Another wet and windy day following similar weather at the weekend, no doubt in sympathy with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
However, Red-breasted Nuthatches undeterred and feeding young fledglings in the big fir tree. Also Chipping Sparrows feeding on millet in the feeder and another hummingbird in the garden on Saturday.
Monday 28 May after a warm weekend, a little cooler with some light showers around – perfect mozzie weather providing food for all the baby birds: over the weekend young grackles demanding with menaces from their harassed parents, today young starlings crashing around in the shrubs and a young robin dutifully bobbing along behind its parent digging for worms in the grass.
Last year’s garden diary shows that a lot of flowers are more than a week in advance of last year’s blooms.
The first few days of the month were cool and wet but the weekend following was very pleasant with Chipping Sparrows arriving along with a flock of Ruby-crowned Kinglets which hung around for over a week.
Unfortunately the dreaded lily beetles also put in an appearance and by 10 May I reckon I had killed about 40.
Another resident made his presence known, by stalking about the garden, inspecting all the plants which caused me to dub “him” Inspector Crow. To start with I was amused by his behaviour but I was upset when he caught a frog (or maybe a toad) in the pond and proceeded to consume it on the lawn.
12 May lily beetle kill: 7
13 May lily beetle kill: 4
14 May 3
16 May 1
Spring started early this year with temperatures in the mid to upper 20s starting 18 March giving an early thaw before heading back to “normal” on 24th but by then all vestiges of snow had disappeared and spring flowers started to bloom: snowdrops, crocus and a few daffodils. Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles had also arrived with the first warm weather along with a few Purple Finches but other arrivals were not spotted until we returned from England in time for my birthday in mid-April.
During our absence the weather was reported as cool and wet which preserved the spring flowers until we could enjoy them, returning to a garden full of the last remaining snowdrops and crocuses, along with daffodils, hyacinths, chionodoxia, puschkinia, sanguinaria, pulmonaria and flowers on the forsythia and daphne. A few days later temperatures hit 30 and the flowers on the Magnolia stellata opened. On 17 April I discovered (and killed) at least 15 lily beetles – adults which had been lurking in the leaf litter in the top of the pots of over-wintering lilies. The warm weather continued until 20 April when there was an abrupt return to seasonal, even some snow overnight.
The same week saw the return of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, White-throated Sparrows, Northern Flickers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Even a Fox Sparrow was observed 21-22 April. Miserably cold wet weather kept us indoors these two days but that allowed us to see a Great Blue Heron arrive to perch on the wooden arch while it viewed the pond.
The cold wet weather has not deterred the rabbit which was contentedly munching dandelion leaves yesterday afternoon and evening. We presume it is last summer’s baby as it does not look full-grown and I saw a much larger one briefly at the beginning of the week. This youngster has been seen frequently since Easter but rabbit(s) obviously visited the garden throughout the winter to judge by the droppings among the wild raspberries and beside the pond.