Saturday, 30 May 2015

Saturday Snaps

Today is warm, humid and very breezy. Not normally a fan of high winds, I do appreciate the edge it gives me on the mosquitoes. Unfortunately, my honey bee friends are finding foraging flights a challenge as well.

The birds are busy tending nests and nestlings now. It's all business with them and they fly as if they are in some sort of timed competition. On May the 8th, there was one mourning dove egg in a nest on a spruce tree bough. The next day there was one more. Today there are two squabs, looking plump and fuzzy. In a few weeks the parents will start on a second brood.

The second of these two mourning dove eggs was laid on May 9th.

May the 30th and the eggs are now alert young squabs.

The American Goldfinch crowd is now dazzling to the eye in their bright yellow breeding plumage. Normally they attend my feeders in groups so when one consistently arrived solo, I took a closer look and discovered he has only one leg. Perhaps this handicap prevents him from joining the 'pecking order' fray.

These goldfinches know that four watchful eyes are better than two.

Dining alone, this goldfinch is missing one leg.

Feral tom, Oscar will soon learn that there is no free lunch here. The price for my hospitality is a trip to the Ottawa Spay/Neuter Clinic. As he gets tamer, it is increasingly likely he will be spending his winters indoors with Ellie Mae and myself. I do not want any spraying behaviour. Oscar's appointment is on June the 24th. A few days before I need to capture him I'll feed him in a disarmed live trap. Oscar might be younger than I had first surmised. It will be interesting to hear what the attending vet thinks his age to be.

Oscar is blissfully unaware of his appointment with the Spay/Neuter Clinic.

He looks younger than I thought in this photo.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Birds, Cats and Catbirds

Between gardening and yard work, I've managed to snap some pics of my companion birds, cats and, yes, catbirds.

A female Ruby-throated hummingbird posing nicely. Such teeny, tiny feet.

A male Ruby-throated hummingbird resting between sips of sugar water.

Unfortunately, former feral, Ellie Mae is a lethal birding cat.

With pleading eyes, Feral tom Oscar is making good progress in obtaining handouts.

A Gray Catbird hunts for edibles.

One of my summer favourites is the Gray Catbird, which is the smallest of our Eastern mimics. From the highest branches, it performs varied and attractive song medleys. The following video shows one scoring a rather large and juicy looking grub.

The catbirds are nesting in the thicket beside the path leading to my vegetable garden. When I pass there, I'm likely to hear their warning call. The sound is rather like that of a young kitten in distress and the reason these bird are called "catbirds".

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Backyard Gold

Yellow is perhaps my favourite colour. These days it splashes about my grounds and adds a festive, sunny touch.

Daffodil arms stretch up as if to say "Pick me!"

And so I did.

Forsythia blooms have their moment in the sun.

A honey bee takes advantage of a fresh dandelion blossom.

This fuzzy bumble bee reminds me of a teddy bear.

A male goldfinch in dazzling breeding plumage.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Two Becomes Four

This week I split my two honey bee colonies to make four. I moved the over-wintered queens to a new location and left behind frames of eggs, brood, pollen and honey for the bees at the home site to develop new queens. Each week I'll check the progress of the queenless hives and give each of them a frame of brood with eggs from the queenright hives to increase their chances of success. If all goes according to plan, a month from now there should be young queens, frisky fresh and ready to produce a new generation of honey-makers. 

Original hive location with now queenless boxes.

Overwintered queens now relocated to new boxes on a nearby stand.

Worker bees wondering where their queen went. Better make a new one, ladies!

The honey bee village has now doubled to four homes.

A good slather of grease on hive stand legs will deny ants their picnics of honey.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Foggy Morning Walk

Yesterday afternoon, gale force winds made me abandon my yard work and flee to the house and den up. Last night it rained, with a bit of thunder thrown in. This morning we had ground fog. No complains about boring weather in these parts! Today's early morning air had the wonderful clean aroma of being freshly washed plus the added spicy scent of young leaves and blossoms. Breakfast could wait, the temptation for a ramble won out.

The rising sun casting rays in the mist.

The moon suspended above a blanket of fog.

Ground fog lifting off a distant field.

A stream trickles beside our greening bush lot.

Ash tree flowers ornament a branch.

My honey bees will enjoy these wild plum blossoms.

Weeping Willow catkins brighten the landscape.

A pair of tree swallows hold claim to this nest box.

At the far reaches of our property, I stood on our side of the fence and snapped a picture of our neighbour's barn for no particular reason, other than it was a reminder of bygone days and bygone people. When I got home and looked through my pictures, I saw something that I hadn't noticed earlier.

I was completely unaware of this fox when I took the picture.