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First Garden Warbler of 2017

Just half an hour before going to blog auto-distribution … the Warbler Magnet garden waterfall has brought in its first warbler of the year.

A beautiful Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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Phew, got that in here by the skin of our teeth

White-throated Sparrow

Meanwhile, back with the regular news of the week …

Just a few days and stuff is happening out there with great rapidity – changes almost by the hour. MANY photographs this week.

Despite, or perhaps because of, wet weather lots and lots of Dark-eyed Juncos have still been around this week accompanied by a surprising number of White-throated Sparrows. Ruby-crowned Kinglets are hopping frantically in the bushes but only the one Golden-crowned to date … both impossible to photograph as they move so fast; occasionally you get lucky but nothing shareable yet.  The waterfall which was started up again last week is being enjoyed by most of the birds in the neighbourhood. A female Northern Cardinal was the first but the others have not been slow to join in.

A Purple Finch has appeared and made use of the feeders – unusually late appearance for this location.  Grackles and Robins too, of course. No shortage of American Goldfinches.

Three White-throated Sparrows splash in the waterfall

Magnolia stellata

The grass is now visibly growing and the place is turning green before our eyes as leaf buds start to break. The first week of May is the normal time for leaves to really unfurl but this week is their practice period.

The daffodils and hyacinths are in flower. Small, blue Chionodoxa are spreading in profusion across the lawns alongside scylla and pushkinia flowers. We wonder why chionodoxa are also known as glory of the snow when they only come into bloom after the crocuses and when all the snow has departed? Perhaps they behave differently in their native lands of Crete, Cyprus and Turkey where they have the habit of flowering in high alpine zones when the snow melts in spring. The Sanguinaria are now all fully open and their leaves are unfurling and expanding. Small purple and white wild violets are peeking out from the grasses. A Pasque flower is blooming splendidly.

The last of the purple crocuses are still flowering, but it’s a small patch in the shade of a cedar where perhaps the soil is cooler and certainly shadier.
As the week ends a bit of warm sunshine following a little “soft” rain has caused Magnolia stellata flowers to open and the larger and flashier Magnolia soulangiana are visibly swelling and will probably open over the weekend … we will have photographs of those next week we expect. They are certainly worth waiting for.

Flowers on the maple trees are also bursting forth ahead of the leaves.

Flowers of a maple tree

Jumping Spider

On the wildlife front, the squirrels are as active as ever and the rabbits hopping around, but now finding grass to nibble so the bark on the smaller shrubs is safe for another season … sadly had to cut down the large Euonymus bush they had ring-barked and killed.  There has been the appearance of more Mourning Cloak butterflies and an overflight of one of the small blue butterflies but no landing so no proper identification. Ants are busily running around the surface outside their nests.

We have two or three times seen splendidly chubby, brown specimens of Bombylius major, one of the so-called bee flies, in fact the Greater bee fly. These are one of the many (too many) dipterans that mimic bees and can be most confusing when there are also real bumble bees around. These are really fascinating insects … their similarity to “real” bees allows them to get close to the burrows of solitary bees where the female will flick her eggs into or near the nests of the host insects. The larvae then feed on the food stored by the bees, as well as the young solitary bees or wasps. If the female is unable to flick her eggs near the nest she plants them on flowers visited by the host insects. The developing larvae then make their way to the host nest or attach themselves to the bees or wasps to then be carried to the nest. Although Bombylius major is an excellent pollinator and so jolly useful in the garden, their larvae do somewhat limit the population of other pollinators.

A tiny (about 3-4mm long) jumping spider sat on an unfurling blackcurrant bush leaf just as the leaf was being photographed … two for the price of one.

Greater Bee Fly

And so the week ends … with plenty of photographs for you to enjoy below:

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White-throated Sparrow