Thursday, July 28, 2005

July 28, 2005

Well, I've been suspecting I had a Costa's hummingbird around here, but couldn't see it close enough to tell for sure. This morning while I put water in the pond I was standing very still, just looking around at the unaccustomed cloud cover. I heard buzzing and glanced up to see a beautiful male Costa's face to face. Maybe he's been thinking, "I suspect there's a middle-aged female writer around here, but I need a closer look."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

July 27, 2005
Two days ago my cardinal feeder fell apart. The door cracked and broke into several pieces, and the body developed alarming cracks across the front and sides. It was no doubt sun-rot (around here, sun-rot and water-rot between them get just about everything).

Anyway, the next morning early I saw a juvenile cardinal at the feeder, actually feeding. He had figured out that if he jumped from the chain link fence to the hole in the feeder, he could sort of grasp the plastic with his feet and flap his wings really fast like hovering long enough to grab a seed. He then retired to a better perch to eat the seed and then resumed his hummingbird-like behavior. A finch had figured out the same thing, and the two of them went through quite a few seeds while I watched. I got a new feeder later in the day, and the cardinals have resumed normal feeding.

At least one of her eggs has hatched; a thumb-sized little gray dovelet was sitting beside her this morning. I couldn't tell if another was there or not. I think it hatched a couple of days ago, because she has seemed to be sitting higher on the nest.

There are baby lizards all over the place. I guess this is the season for them. Lots of them on the River Walk, mostly scampering away in time not to get stepped on or run over. Several I've seen at the house, including one that briefly came inside and was attacked by one of the cats. I rescued it, but it may have been damaged beyond repair by the time I returned it to the yard.

It's been pouring everywhere but here. Sniff.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

July 20, 2005

Hooray! The monsoon has finally arrived! It started two nights ago wtih a tremendous thunderstorm that brought little rain (here, anyway) and tons of lightning and thunder. There were trees down all over the city, some of which we saw today on the riverwalk. Also power outages, though not here. Although we had one of our own a few days earlier.

Still plenty of quail around. Yesterday I saw a gorgeous white spiny lizard with a blue collar and belly and tan and gold stripes on its back and flanks. It is possibly leucistic, though spiny lizards are capable of changing color to match the ambient temperature: the hotter it gets the lighter they get.

And I just saw a very intelligent white-wing dove (a seeming oxymoron). He was clnging to the perch on the cardinal feeder and trying to insert his beak into the space between the feeder cover and the feeder hole. He obviously got how the thing worked, but wasn't able to figure out how to beat the system.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

July 9, 2005
I can't believe how many quail there are running around, across our back and front yards, through the pond, into the wash, across the streets (cringe). Pretty much every time I think to look up from typing, I see some combination of adult and juvenile quail out in the riparian area. Day before yesterday I caught a glimpse, as they left the yard, of a gazillion (or maybe two gazillion) little bitty guys--the dandelion-fluff stage of baby quaildom. They were so cute. I counted about eight or ten, but there were more.

Also, I don't know if all quail mamas are stupid or fat, but practically every time I see one now, she's trying to find a mesh square to get through to get out of the riparian area. Why not just fly over the fence, duh?

And speaking of duh, Mama Dove is at it again. I saw her with a twig in her mouth the other day over by the old nest on the shelf. Two days later she was sitting on the nest, and she is still there. She does have shade where she is, but it's SO HOT. I wonder if she will lay (or has laid) hard-boiled eggs? (This is her fourth brood of the season, counting the egg that didn't hatch.)

The last set of baby doves apparently fledged successfully. They had gotten pretty big and were walking around and even flying a bit. One disappeared, but I think it may have flown away to its own life. I saw the remaining one sitting on the shelf, alone, and when I approached it flew off, its wings flapping strongly. I hope they're okay--this weather has been brutal. It can't be a good time to be born, whether you are a dove, or a quail, or anything. I'm sure that my little pond is helping some guys make it through the tough early days.

The monsoon is probably arriving next week, and not a moment too soon. We've had I think 27 days of 100 plus heat, and at least another week to go. Despite the coming humidity, it will be nice to get back down in the nineties.

Final nature note for today: yesterday out on the River Walk a kestrel landed on a wasit-high fence just in front of us. So beautiful!