Lots and lots of photographs for everyone this week – not many birds, lots of flowers.
We will begin with a short video of “our” Pileated Woodpecker finding an ants’ nest … after that, it’s on to the serious stuff. Please turn up the sound.
This week has been generally cool and showery and not at all like a typical early June – on the other hand, there have been some sunny intervals and these sort of conditions are wonderful for plants which just lap it up and are growing fat and green by the hour it seems. Weeds are also benefitting! This unseasonal weather is due to a blocking high near Greenland and the consequential southerly slumping of the jet stream, leaving us on the wrong (northerly) side of it. Things should pick up in a week or so … they say.
Plenty of flowers too, especially tree flowers. Last week’s sour cherry blossom is finished and tiny green cherries are starting to form – that will please the birds that surely will eat them just before they ripen. Nice of us to grown this harvest for them, isn’t it. Likewise, elder fruits are setting and the dogwoods are covered in flowers – even the new, small golden-leaved dogwoods we planted a few days ago have a couple of flowers on them.
Stars of the show are the two rowan trees – one in the front garden and one, a “volunteer”, on the southern side of the garden hidden amongst a small forest of birch saplings. The front garden rowen is now a huge tree, having been found in 1998 or 1999 lurking near the wall of the house and about six inches high – there’s a picture of that tree somewhere around this posting. It’s very much taller than that now and simply covered in blossom which will later provide huge bunches of late summer red berries for, you guessed it, birds.
Purple Finch numbers have dropped but they are still with us and the seed feeders are being rapidly emptied by them and the Goldfinches amongst others. It’s some weeks though since we saw House Finches. Female PUFIs get scrutinised closely at this time of year just in case they turn out to be female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, distinguishable by their having a much heavier (gros) beak and some small differences in the colour of their feathers. House and Purple Finches (male and female) and RBGR (females – no problems with identifying males) are awfully similar at first glance and need some careful examination at times to tell them apart by their facial markings and the presence or absence of an eyebrow … if this stuff interests you and you like to get the terminology right take a look at this page: http://www.birdnature.com/birdmarks.html
Our regular White-breasted Nuthatches were briefly joined on Friday by a Red-breasted Nuthatch; not so common.
While wandering the garden with the camera one afternoon a bout of knocking and scuffling in the stumpery turned out to be a splendid Pileated Woodpecker that was giving the soft and rotting stumps a really good turning over in its search for grubs. After a while down at ground level it took off for the adjacent Catalpa tree which it, and its relatives, have been mistreating for several years due to it not being in the first flush of youth. It slightly enlarged a hole and started feeding avidly on, it turned out, ants which came rushing out of the tree to be picked off one by one. I was fortunate to be able to get some video of this – the bird was not at all concerned by my proximity – which you have already seen above in a conveniently shortened and edited form.
Gardening chores, such as mowing and weeding, have been set back by the weather – can’t mow effectively when the grass is wet – and by R’s duties working on the Garden at Fritz (see www.gardenatfritz.com) and the development and planting of a new trail in the arboretum with an accompanying “copse” of native berry-bearing bushes that will provide berries and insects for birds from early summer through into the winter once they are mature. We’ll tell you more about those projects in the weeks to come. Hard work in good causes – builds the muscles (I wish) and increases the beer consumption.
Now, the weekly photographs.
Quite a few this time. Sit back and watch the rolling slideshow or click any one of the thumbnails to see a picture in a gallery at full size.