Sunday, 28 July 2019

Evening Sightings

Fireflies (also called Lightning Bugs) were really flashing last night. Atop bushes, they looked like hundreds of cigarette lighters randomly sparking on and then off. One could almost expect a concert to begin.

But before the firefly light show commences, a mother raccoon and her five kits begin their evening forage. Causing her to limp, the mom has an injured right paw. She has, however, no trouble climbing. She also has an injury to her right eye. The smallest of her five youngsters sticks very close to her. The others are much more independent.

A mother raccoon accompanied by her five youngsters.

Her right paw and her right eye are injured.

The lily pond is always interesting to these foragers.

Her smallest and clingiest baby is always the first to follow her.

Mom frequently pauses to scan for any sign of danger.

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I have to laugh at the way I sometimes mishear things. On YouTube, I was watching a beat officer give a guided tour of the homeless in their city tent settlement. I thought the fast talking officer said, "That woman right there was cleaning silver for three years ..." Well, that's positive I thought. She was gainfully employed. But my brain slowly corrected my ears by re-interpreting, "That woman right there was clean and sober for three years ..." Sadly, he went on to explain that she fell off the wagon when someone offered her crack cocaine. I do hope that she can someday manage to again pick up her can of Silvo and polishing cloth.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Summer Mystery

My honey bee colony that managed to survive last winter's brutal cold has now expanded to three. The hive that attempted to swarm earlier had made two queens.

This year's bee yard has three honey bee colonies.

Honey bees harvesting algae from the sides of a stock tank.

I have several watering stations and in this hot weather the honey bees frequent them all. There are two bird baths, a water lily pond and a stock tank. (I no longer keep livestock but the tank is kept filled with water for the vegetable garden.) The worker bees are especially fond of the algae which forms on the insides of the tank. Researchers claim that the freshwater green micro alga chlorella is an important source of protein and nutrients for them. My honey bees love it! Strangely, the native bees don't seem interested at all.

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Now to the subject of this post: A couple of weeks ago I proudly showed off my vegetable garden to a neighour friend. I had worked extra hard with weeding and watering. My two 18 foot rows of beets and swiss chard looked lush and promised many tasty harvests. Then, a few days of showers saved me from having to water the garden and I focused my attention elsewhere. When the weather cleared I took a stroll out to the garden with my weeding kit. Surprise!! My lovely beets and swiss chard were no more! My precious three to four inch seedlings were simply gone! They were all nibbled completely down to the ground. Since I had been running my rotor tiller between the rows, the ground was soft and weedless, so deer tracks should have shown up. There were no visible tracks of any kind. So I don't think the deer were to blame.

In previous years, Boat-Tailed Grackles were my main garden pests. In fact, I no longer plant sunflowers because Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds devour too many seedlings. Grackles also pulled up and ate all of the leaves and stems of some pond lillies I once tried to grow. Anyway, grackles are at the top of my suspect list. But also, there are wild turkeys, rabbits, groundhogs and deer.

I may just plant tomatoes and flower seeds next year. Fussing with garden fencing or nets just doesn't appeal to me any more.

A father Boat-Tailed Grackle with his youngster.

This rabbit has lost the sight in it's left eye.

My dear, did you dine on my garden greens?

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Here are a few snaps of my perennial border at the moment. Some plants have already had their day and others are yet to blossom. (A bit like people, really.)

The stand of bee balm (Monarda) spreads a little more each year.

Creeping Bellflowers make elegant and long-lasting cut flowers.

Phlox blooms wait until the evening to release their lovely scent.

A very tiny native bee (at top of flower) took a long drink of lily nectar.