Yesterday was the first day the Bluebird dad brought his fledglings to enjoy meal worms on the deck. It looks like the nesting produced at least three big healthy babies. Obviously mom and dad did a great job feeding them because these babies look bigger than dad!! They still have to be fed, but I noticed this morning a couple of them were eating meal worms on their own, but still asking dad to feed them!!
I haven't seen the female for several days. Bluebirds can have two or three nestings in a season. These babies fledged several weeks ago so I'm hoping that she's on the nest again!
Did I say I liked having a beaver colony in my backyard? I still do like the industrious creatures but there are a few drawbacks. I didn't know that they loved hollies, but they have a seemingly insatiable appetite for the lovely shrubs. I had some big beautiful Nellie Stevens and Savannah hollies but the Beaver has decimated them. I found two more gone last week. Now nature's lumberjack is at it again! Last night the Beaver burgled another big Savannah Holly.
He didn't take it with him but look how clever he was to submerge the end of the trunk in water so his prize will stay fresh and tasty until his return .
I'd hate this creature if he wasn't so interesting!! I'm getting out the chicken wire to save the rest of my hollies!!
There are dozens of wild willows he could snack on but obviously he prefers cultivated trees.
These pretty yellow and orange blooms are Tulip Poplar flowers. Although this tree is called a poplar, it's really a member of the Magnolia family. Tulip Poplars, or Tulip trees, are large, growing as tall as 120 feet high! The flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds; birds and squirrels eat the seeds. This one is located in my neighbor's yard between our houses. It must be hardy because the tree withstood building of both houses and continued to flourish even though several mighty oaks nearby died due to the construction.
Would you expect to see a Sandpiper visiting an inland fresh water lake? Because of excellent camouflage, I almost missed the Solitary Sandpiper wading back and forth in the shallows of the lake looking for tasty morsels. Sandpipers are thought of as beach birds, but the Solitary Sandpiper inhabits fresh water lakes. They’re big travelers, too, breeding in the woodlands of Alaska and northern Canada and wintering in Central and South America. This one is probably on a rest stop back to his northern home since these birds often visit lakes and ponds along their migration route. And as for their name--Solitary sandpipers aren’t really loners, but they don’t travel in large flocks.
I didn't find any Cat's Whisker plants (my favorite annual) this year, but I did get one their first cousins, a pink Cleome. These bushy annuals have softball sized flowers with long stamens, giving them the nickname Spider Flower.
They can grow 3-6 feet high and will bloom all summer. Hummingbirds and butterflies love them, too. Although similar, Cat's Whiskers have pyramid shaped flowers with curved stamens. My Mother loved Cleomes and had a big bed of lavender and white ones. I've never seen a pink Cleome before and wish I had gotten to the nursery earlier--this was the only one left!!
It's tick season as I was reminded yesterday when I found one of the nasty pests lodged near my collar bone. A trip to urgent care for removal and a round of antibiotics should take care of the matter. Of course I asked about contracting Lyme Disease and the Physician's Assistant told me that it was unlikely. However, he did mention that there is something similar to Lyme Disease here in the south--STARI or Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness. I had never heard of it before but it is carried by the Lone Star tick, one of the three ticks prevalent in the South. The good news is that if the tick is on you for less than 48 hours, possibility of transmission isn't likely. Be careful out there and check for ticks after being outside!
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Eagle Cam 2014 This camera streams the activities of the eagle nest located 110 feet up, in a tree on the grounds of the US FWS National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia.