Saturday, May 19, 2012

Green, More than the Color of Money

I was out at the pond trying to find the small butterwort plant to photograph and the pond is rather shallow so I was pretty far down the bank. As I disappeared below the edge I was surprised that this guy came flying in over my head. From the flight coming in for a landing I first thought it was one of the grackles. I think he was surprised that a human was "below ground" so when it saw me it hopped over the pond and landed on the other side. So glad I always have my camera at the ready. Mr. Green Heron (or Mrs.?) didn't stay long, but he made that squawk as he flew away which cracks me up.

This is only the 2nd time I've seen them at my place so it was a rewarding encounter.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Oh no you don't!

When I was driving down the block the other day I noticed that some of the trees alongside the culvert appeared to be dying...shades of brown that don't bring to mind autumn days.  I've grown to accept that laurel wilt has done in our red bays and try not to get too upset at their stark brown carcasses interweaved in an otherwise healthy looking woods.  My concern was that a lot of the brown trees were young pines...pines in the bottlebrush stage of life.  I wondered if the county had done its herbicide thing to keep the culverts environmental tragedy that has no justification.  Despite complaints, it seems you can't fight city hall of that subject.  Since so many other species of shrubs and treees seemed green and fine, it had to be something directly related to the pines....much like the red bays demise with that darn ambrosia beetle.
I've made an effort to nurture those pines that are growing naturally on my property.  Long Leaf Pines are especially essential to the well being of so much of our wildlife. 
I made a mental note to check on my pines which probably number around 15 or so in grass stage or just moving into bottlebrush stage. 
I finally got around to my pines and thankfully the ones in the back were all healthy and bright green.  Then I noticed my "surprise" pine....just outside the front fence, it grew into bottlebrush stage practically overnight probably jumping for joy realizing that someday someone FINALLY didn't cut it back.  Unfortunately, It looked a little bare.  On closer inspection I saw the gang of thugs munching away.  Meet the Red-headed Pine Sawfly (Neodiprion lecontei).  They like to eat young pines.  I headed to get the soapy water killing jar and shook the little buggers off the tree.  Hand picking is relatively easy since they seem to stick to the younger pines where they are within easy reach to be shaken and booted off. 
I've been monitoring the rest of my trees daily and haven't seen nary another of these guys on any of the trees.  I just wonder if they are the culprits that are doing in our pretty little young pines around the neighborhood.  Hopefully mother nature is just naturally weeding out trees to give all a chance at proper nutrition.  Time will tell.

Friday, May 4, 2012

2012 Bird Broods II

Well, we have another 5 bluebird eggs for the 2012 season. I had cleaned out the nest after a successful fledge of 5 babies from brood #1. Mom and dad returned about 2 weeks later to start on new construction in the box.

This week I saw Lovey and Dovey doves back sitting on their nest in the front oak…the same nest…so I guess doves don't require change.

Mockingbirds have been busy building…they built a third nest in the neighbor's oak and I found a nest in a one of my Wax Myrtles but they still haven't used it. Odd bunch they are. Apparently the males begin to build in a couple of locations and the females pick one and finish it off. Neighbor on the other side reported that he found a dead bird and the nest had been picked clean of eggs.

There is a single purple martin that comes every day and does aerial stunts checking out the martin house, but I really think he is just teasing me and has no intention of moving in.

I hear the nuthatches high in the pines, but since the killing at the last nest site, they haven't even stopped by that snag again…and for the past two years they spent most of their time there. I miss seeing them. Which got me to thinking…my snags are starting to crumble so I need to place an order for a lightning strike. A dead tree is vital to wonderful wildlife observations.
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