Time for a short update to the wildlife garden notes … some recent observations:
Firstly, after 20 years in the garden we have finally recorded the visit of a chipmunk that was, what else, investigating the ground under the bird feeders. Interestingly, a recent discussion on a town residents’ Facebook group was about recent sightings of chipmunks with quite a few people noting that they had not seen them before. We have everything else – well, not bears – and chipmunks are in neighbouring towns and the arboretum but it would appear they are invading. This is good.
A couple of young Purple Finches have been visiting – we would like to think that, but this the time of year when juveniles of many bird spp form small flocks, after they have left parental support they have emerged from a local nest.
Cedar Waxwings had a snack of honeysuckle berries in “Molly’s Dell”.
Juvenile Cardinals have been harrassing their parents for food, “food, give me food, now”.
A small group of at least four Northern Flickers descended on the lawn and edges of the pond one morning – again, must be from a local nest. They will split up and go their own ways before too long but for now the family forages together.
Several RTHummingbirds have been disputing nectar rights at the Cuophea flowers in planters on the deck.
Monarch butterflies have visited our two milkweed plots and a large fat caterpillar has been busily munching the leaves and seed pods of at least one plant. growing at a visible rate.
Talking of milkweed – we have observed that Japanese beetles slow down very noticeably if they are feeding from milkweed leaves – one assumes (no proof) that this is associated with the toxicity of the plant’s sap? After they have been on the plants for a while they become lethargic and much easier to catch and kill than they are on the roses and other plants they usually favour. The Japanese beetle invasion has been earlier and greater than previous years. We keep cumulative totals of beetles killed … just look at this chart (blue = 2016, green = 2017 and yellow = 2018 to date) – matters have worsened over the years. We read that there is a parasitic Tachinid fly that can control the beetles to some extent and it is spreading east but it has not yet appeared in our neighbourhood. Fingers crossed.
Plants … like most houses, we have a plough strip out by the road that belongs to the town but is maintained by us. Normally we mow it and try to keep it green but in this horribly hot weather this summer the grass has stopped growing so we stopped mowing for a few weeks – that’s a first – with the result that a plantation of small Umbelliferae set up shop giving us lovely white flowers to enjoy. A guy living round in the next street was told off by the council for not mowing his front lawn so we have been waiting for a notice of weed-infraction to come through the letter box. So far they have left us alone but somebody will complain once they work out that these are “weeds”. Meanwhile, they look nice to us.
Finally we see some lessening of the excessive temperatures this summer has “enjoyed” and there was decent rain a couple of days ago but the humidity is still too high for comfort.