Labour Day weekend stuff …

Glorious, glorious weather ought to have us out exploring the hinterland and seeking bears and rare birds but instead we have (I’m 61 in a week – good excuse) chosen to spend the day quietly baking bread, gardening and preserving tomatoes from the market.  It truly is too nice to be doing anything else … good coffee and the papers help too.

The garden is having a last flush of colour as the photographs below show and is full to bursting with assorted insects and spiders …. the insects gathering nectar from our late flowers and the spiders eating the isnects.  This is what is known as a balanced ecology.

The baking has been very successful – sourdough wholemeal loaves and a batch of butter and egg-rich sweet breakfast rolls.  We have a visitor from the UK coming in a few days who will aprreciate those.  If I hadn’t somehow become a pathologist I would have been content to be a baker – very satisfying if less well paid.

Now the section for the birders … Late afternoon we took a lengthy and interesting walk in the Arboretum along the Yellow Trail.  Even after all the hot weather we have had this past couple of weeks the trail still had some remarkably boggy patches.  At one point we heard a ‘thwacking” sound that we couldn’t place and assumed that something was making its way towards us through the undergrowth until eagle-eyes J spotted the source.  High up near the top of a very tall tree was a large Bald-faced Hornet nest (they aren’t Hornets, they are actually Wasps but on the same principle as that used long, long ago to name Red-breasted Thrushes as Robins on this continent these big and very aggressive insects became known as Hornets and I doubt a bit of logical taxonomoy is going to put matters right … anyway, to continue).  The thwacking was caused by an excessively energetic Blue Jay flying at it and crashing against the side with its feet, then hacking away furiously with its beak and flying off again only to return repeatedly to the attack. The nest was swinging wildly from side to side but there didn’t seem to be any retaliatory insect defense going on so we assume the nest had been abandoned, although it is still early in the season for the usual cold weather die-off.  Fascinating behaviour – there are some 24 species of bird that will eat Hornets but I can find no reference to this sort of storming of the castle gates.  if anyone has any knowledge of this I’d be fascinated ot know more.

Blue Jay attacking hornet nest (1)

Blue Jay attacking hornet nest (1)

Blue Jay attacking hornet nest (2)

Blue Jay attacking hornet nest (2)

Life is good.

I have chosen to save time and space by putting the rest of today’s pictures into a mini-album with thumbnails below – click on any picture to see a larger size image and leave a comment if you wish.  Please note that I have not taken the time to identify the species of insects (yet) but the giant – 2 inch long – parsley-caterpillar has been seen here in previoous years when he was identified should you wish to check back through the archives.