Sunday, April 30, 2006

April 30 Part 2

Apart from the excitement of the ravenous rabbits, there has been quite a lot of bird action lately. A mama dove built her nest on the southern pillar of the carport. Just the other day the second baby flew away. Now another dove has built a nest on the north pillar. I'm pretty sure it is a different dove, because she looks smaller and skinnier. Yet a third dove (or maybe dove #2) built a nest inside the carport, over the screen door. Every time we opened the door she flew away in a panic. One day I found a broken egg below the nest, and I haven't seen her since.

But speaking of eggs... I found a beautiful little quail egg in my gardening equipment drawer the other day. Why only one egg and not twenty-three? No idea. I photographed it, and then dropped it on the concrete (by accident). It bounced, but also cracked. A couple of days later I startled a female quail sitting in the drawer, where there is barely room for her. She flew away in terrible panic, and couldn't figure out how to get out of the carport. I haven't seen her since, nor have I seen more eggs.

Finally, yesterday I saw a very ruddy female or immature male hummer. Probably a broad-tail, but I'm thinking maybe a rufous. I am hoping for a return visit so I can get a good look at its throat.

The pigeons, pyrrhuloxias, and cardinals are all paired up. Ain't nature grand?

April 30 Part 1

Well, duh, I guess I should have realized that rabbits can eat through plastic, which is why rabbit fence is made of metal. The very next morning the bunnies were frolicking in the pond area, so we bought some 3-foot high chicken wire and made a bigger fence for the poor grapefruit.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

This morning my husband and I spent a couple of hours attaching plastic mesh all along the bottom of the fence around the pond area (81 feet plus three gates). I'm pretty sure no rabbit can get in now.

The quail are another question. The adults can fly in, but if they start bringing babies around, they won't be able to enter until the kids are fairly big. This morning I was watching a quail who had come in to use the pond and peck the crumbs under the suet feeder. It was time to leave, and he kept walking up and down the fenceline, looking for his customary exit. He became more agitated, the longer he searched. You could almost see the thought balloons:

"I know there's a way out of here... I've used it a million times. But where?... I got in here, there must be a way to get out.... Where is the exit?.... Wait a minute! I know how to fly!" (Glance upward) "That's the ticket--I'll fly out!"

And so he did.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Aargh! Rabbits just ate half of my grapefruit tree! It was looking so beautiful, had put out a gazillion leaves and flowers, and was sporting tiny baby grapefruits, and now it looks as if the Cossacks ran rampant through it.

I don't know how they got in through the wire enclosure around it, but I am reluctantly now going to place rabbit-proof fencing around the entire pond area. That will allow me to plant even more things, but I feel bad about keeping the rabbits away from the water. It's their own fault though.

Not much other nature news. The desert has been looking gorgeous, with glorious golden palo verde blossoms everywhere (except our yard). Some wildflowers, though not many. I've had way fewer hummers, I think because there have been enough flowers out in the desert to satisfy them.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

April 11, 2006
It has quite suddenly become warm (some might say hot), and lizards have been appearing on the patio. I wondered if snakes had awakened yet (to keep my eye out for rattlers). The question was answered just now, around 1:30 PM when I glanced out on the back porch and saw a very long, skinny snake climbing up the wrought iron pillars. By the time I returned with my camera, the snake was already on the long rafter above the outer edge of the porch.

I watched (and photographed) as it appeared to be searching for a cavity in the roof. It moved so sinuously and beautifully. At one point it literally flowed through a hook (that holds a nectar feeder).

It had just about reached the end of the porch, and I went on in to watch from inside. I was very surprised to see a woodpecker and a male pyrrhuloxia seemingly watching it--moving on the railing underneath it as it moved. The woodpecker's head was pointed up, the pyrrhuloxia kept one eye turned up. I guess they want to know where this guy hangs out.

I looked away for a couple of seconds, and when I looked back, the snake and the birds were gone! I have no idea where the snake went. Maybe it did find a hole in the roof and will be living there.

I don't know what it is, just that it is definitely not a rattler. I went online and found pictures; it most resembles a gopher snake, but they seem to be fattish, and this guy is way skinny. I'd guess it's about two feet long.

Other news: we've had phaenopeplas drinking at the pond, and a couple of days ago a beautiful mockingbird. Fewer hummers, I think because the desert is finally blooming, though not lushly. Our yard looks gorgeous, though. That little bit of rain made a big difference.