This is the week each year when we recognise that we can’t keep up with the rate of growth out there in garden-land. It’s also the week when bird migration really gets moving and the bird magnet (aka the waterfall) comes into its infallible own.
Not long after last week’s newsletter was dispatched to inboxes around the world the waterfall achieved something that will perhaps never be repeated … not one, but TWO bright blue Indigo Buntings dropped by for a fairly extended wash and brush-up. One of the pictures we took of this not inconsiderable triumph couldn’t wait a week to be shared in the newsletter (though here they are) and so some of you may already have seen them. No, one Indigo Bunting would be something to shout about in the birding fraternity, but two is simply too much to not crow about … “wows” came in from all around and the little facebook like button started to glow in the heat generated by its excessive use. Gorgeous birds, as the pictures here will show you.
It also became apparent at the start of the week that our Dark-eyed Juncoes, who had been hanging about a bit too long, had finally decided it was time to head north and claim some territory for themselves.
A few White-throated Sparrows have hung around but we may have seen the last of them now until the fall return – but they were replaced for a short spell by the arrival of White-crowned Sparrows sporting their flashy black and white racing cyclist’s crash helmets. They have been scratching around on the ground finding food, especially amongst the shelter given by our overgrown blackcurrant bushes. Of course, they also found the seed filled feeders and made good use of those. These birds really like the currant bush area – curiously, although these bushes produce pounds and pounds of fruit it is almost never taken by birds. Back in the UK we had to keep our current bushes inside netting “cages” if we were to enjoy any fruit at all but here we can relax, secure in the knowledge that Canadian birds don’t know what’s good for them. Not that there’s any fruit at the moment, though the leaves are out and the flowers are ready to be pollinated.
Towards the middle and end of the week two very hot days struck out of nowhere with temperatures up to 30C (humidex of 36C) accompanied by very strong winds. Storms had been forecast so our trays of seedlings were duly protected but in the end the storms passed north of Montreal and we just got the hot winds … meaning that despite the floods of a couple of weeks ago the ground is drying out rapidly and watering will not be far in our future.
The waterfall header-pond did it again with, at one point, a Goldfinch, a Purple Finch and White-crowned Sparrow all bathing side by side (picture!). Several Purple Finches are with us still.
We have blossom bursting out around the place, the sour cherry is especially gorgeous but we also have (some) redbud blossoms and American elder bushes and flower buds are appearing on our high-bush cranberry bushes – more about them probably next week. On the other side of the garden a small but attractive old Viburnum was badly damaged a couple of years ago by an excavator when our septic tank had to be replaced. The main trunk was split and more in hope than expectation we wedged it back together with a big stone and waited for it to die … which is exactly what it failed to do. Instead the bush has shrugged and put forth beautiful flowers last summer and now this. Remarkable.
Friday brought a couple more first year male Purple Finches to the feeders and then we enjoyed three warbler species. A Tennessee Warbler in the waterfall (another picture), a Cape May Warbler putting in a brief appearance and a Magnolia Warbler … no doubt all here thanks to yesterday’s hot winds. Just the one Tennessee Warbler – we felt pretty pleased about that until later in the day we learned that our friends at the McGill Bird Observatory, which is just over the hill from us, established some sort of record by banding no fewer than 79 of the little birds on the same day!!! Actually, we are still pretty pleased with our guy and are now wondering if he picked up a band of his own after he left us, he was heading on the right direction.
Carpets of blue forget-me-nots are blooming all over the place – the garden looks, in the words of the cliché, quite the picture just now.
NOW a question.
People often ask for details of how to build a bird magnet waterfall. Would this be of interest to anyone? If so just leave a comment at the foot of this post and we will get to work on the drawings and share them here in the next couple of weeks.
Pictures now – lots of those and plenty of both birds and blossoms. Click a thumbnail to see them at full size or scroll to the bottom and enjoy the auto-playing slide show.