A Garden Month (to 24 Aug 2019)
Even back in late July some end-of-summery things were already being noticed such as a small group of Waxwings taking berries from the Dogwood bushes on a hot and windy day … the sort of day on which it is perfect for Japanese Beetles to pair off and try to make more of their evil kind. Perfect in fact for the “exterminator in chief” to exterminate all those copulating pairs in the roses.
On 25 July J noticed a juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird checking out lily flowers. Here we are in late August and the Hummingbirds are still here so presumably they find more nectar-rich flowers such as our Monarda to feast on and are hanging around until it cools off some more.
The best news of summer was the finding of eggs of Winsome Flies stuck to the backs of Japanese Beetles and we estimated some 12% of beetles were affected. The Winsome Fly is a parasitic Tachnid fly from Japan that lays its eggs on the beetles – the eggs hatch and the larvae burrow in the beetles and eat them from the inside out. Not a nice fate but then the JBs are not nice beetles … maybe in Japan, but not here where they have no natural predators. We also started to notice lethargic and clearly unhappy beetles, presumably with their tiny passengers aboard. Apparently the parasitic flies were first noticed in Montreal just two years ago – long may they stay here and protect us. We certainly need some protection as the count of collected and killed beetles in the garden is higher tan previous years and we have been counting for five summers. The trick is to leave the beetles with eggs on them with the hope that by so doing the fly poluation will increase.
27 July – the time of year when the early morning light changes and only a month after the summer solstice too. J noted that she was seeing Fireflies earlier and earlier each evening, just before the start of the 9pm news when not long before before she had had to wait for the adverts at 9:30 or thereabouts to get her fix. Still summer but the days are shortening and the nights are starting to cool somewhat. The Hummingbirds began to feed regularly on the red tubular Cuphea (Mexican Cigar PLant) flowers and they are still reghularly visiting three weeks later.
A couple of holes were found under a tree to the side of the house beside Molly’s Dell. We had wondered, because of the size, if Skunks might have been involved in their excavation and that has proven to be the case – late afternoon on Japanese Beetle patrol J was moving quietly when she heard a scuffle in the leaf litter and saw a small Skunk up against the tree trunk with its tail up and facing her. Shortly afterwards it had gone – skunks are very good bug eaters and to be encouraged.
The last day of July brought papa Cardinal and three youngsters, all lined up on tree branch and demnanding food. Only ever seen broods of two youngsters bnefore. mother nowhere to be seen.
11 August – lots of young Song and Chipping Sparrows twittering around the garden and hopping beside the pond. Flocks of clearly young Chickadees.
14 August – a small group of Yellow Warblers in a Rowan tree in the early morning. Later in the afternoon a young Raccoon was digging beside the pond before slipping away into the shadoes under the trees near the stumpery. What a breeding year for everything – oour garden welcomes young families.
15 August – the second morning on which flocks of Canada Geese have honked overhead. It will be a long time before they head south but behaviours are already changing.
17 August – an adult male Song Sparrow was taking peanuts from a feeder and giving them to a begging juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird … for European readers this is the equivalent of a Cuckoo in the nest. Still saw this relationship a few days later.
24 August – just before sitting down to write these notes, a Black-throated Green Warbler dropped by. There are a good number too of caterpillars of the Black Swallowtail Butterflies this summer – very smart fellows and exceptionally smart adults when the emerge.