We seem to have slipped into the habit of writing a round-up of recent activities in the garden around the middle of each month. This one is being composed as we swelter under a “heat dome” sent to us from south of the border – far too hot to do anything physical at all, especially after a couple of hours labouring in the Garden at Fritz after breakfast. To the weather forecasters we are enjoying “A warm and humid air mass settled over Southern Quebec. Humidex temperatures will reach 40C to 45C. The high heat and humidity will remain through Sunday in the greater Montreal area.“ Those conditions are dangerous and the air conditioning is working hard.
And so …
Back in mid-June we we noted a pair of Song Sparrows regularly taking seeds from the feeder on our deck and then disappearing into the base of a variegated dogwood just behind the sour cherry tree from which we inferred the presence of a nest. We leave nests alone so had no visual confirmation but not long afterwards we enjoyed the sight of young SOSPs so the nest cannot have been far away. At abut the same period a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was a regular diner at the peanut feeder on the other side of the pond, presumably supplementing insect food with extra peanut protein. Again, at least one youngster appeared with an adult a few times. We have had Sapsuckers in the garden on occasions but not at the feeders and not with young. The dense trees and shrubs seem to have finally grown together into the sort of sheltering jungle that a lot of wildlife finds entirely to its satisfaction when it comes to an out of the way corner for raising the next generations.
Chipmunk at dinner
Towards the end of June our afternoon tea was enlivened by the regular appearance on the deck of one or more Chipmunks – we are pretty sure it has been hanging out under the deck also. The bird feeder is the source of freely scattered seed and nuts (birds are messy eaters) and the chipmunk has clearly been clearing up. Lots of fun – lots of cute. This is only the second (? third) time we have had chipmunks in the 21 years we have been here but at the time of writing three weeks later he/they is still with us. So long as it behaves and doesn’t cause the damage we have heard about from some gardeners then he and his friends and relatives are very welcome.
Several times we have enjoyed a Gray Catbird bathing in the pool at the top of the waterfall, usually towards late afternoon. Again, we see them briefly once or twice a year but this bathing and frequent visits does make us think they they, too, may have a nearby nest.
At the start of July the Amelanchier berries started to ripen and the Robins moved in for a feast. The branches of the Amelanchier are thin and whippy so the birds’ antics on the food-laden springboard has caused some amusement – light as birds are, they still bend the branches. Heavy squirrels, on the other hand, have to really take it slow and steady to get the fruit – but they have not gone hungry.
A week into July young Northern Cardinals started to be seen with their parents at various sources of food around the garden – possibly the second brood of the year. in good years the Cardinals raise three broods – must be hard work -but two is more common.
Sour cherries – ripe and ready for picking
Once the Amelanchier berries had been eaten the Robins and squirrels moved along to check out the heavy crop of sour cherries on our “Montmorency” tree. The tree is a good size now and although it had fruit most years they often self-thin around early summer and what’s left disappears into the wildlife a few days before it starts to ripen. This summer however, very little of the crop has dropped and there is a good supply of rapidly ripening cherries which, for the first year, we are managing to collect ourselves. Not sure why this is, but 2019 seems to be benefitting from a bumper fruit season everywhere and it may be that the birds are spoiled for choice and so less reliant on our trees for a square meal. Either way, we are not complaining and are looking forward to eating plenty of sour cherry concoctions. Note: getting the stones out of a large bowl of cherries is mind-numbingly boring – thank goodness for audio books.
For a few days numbers of House Finches put in an appearance, both adults and juveniles. There’s a photo here of both parents and young at the restaurant at the bottom of the garden.
A week ago a flock of Cedar Waxwings were taking dogwood (Cornus) berries.
And now we are enjoying, thanks to the hot weather, the annual attack of hordes of hungry alien Japanese beetles … J has gone into full extermination mode but still they come.