Thursday, October 27, 2005

October 27, 2005
The weather has been absolutely glorious for the last couple of weeks. It's the reason we're all here in this valley. Tucson has two seasons: the summer that we bitch about, and most of the rest of the year. Sunny clear days in the seventies-low eighties and cool nights in the fifties. Slight breeze most of the time.

The hummers seem to be tapering off--only a couple now, I think. An Anna's for sure. I'm not sure if the Costa's are still around. I planted a new crossvine to make up for the one that got fried last summer. It did very well for about a week--putting out new tendrils, looking great, and then yesterday it looked all wilted. Today it was gone. Nothing left but a couple of sticks. So I presume something ate it. The climbing rose that got eaten a few weeks ago has not come back either. So I guess the moral is not to plant anything outside the pond enclosure. I feel really sad about the rose, because this coming spring it would have been great.

The petunias inside the pond enclosure are growing and blooming beautifully (they are in big pots). And so far the chile and new gardenias in the front porch area are doing well.

The only other thing going on around here is bees. There are a gazillion bees swarming around the pond every day as soon as it warms up. I called a bee service, and they said that probably the hive is not on our property (I haven't seen any hive activity), and that the bees could be coming from as far away as two miles. I have two choices: drain the pond for a couple of weeks, or wait for the first freeze, when the bees will become dormant.

So far, I have chosen to wait.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

October 18, 2005
The main thing going on has been the problem with the seed feeder. I kept adjusting it, but the only birds who could feed were the woodpeckers, and it didn't matter what height I set the door to. I watched cardinals and pyrrhuloxias try to feed and finally leave in disappointment. Day before yesterday I took the feeder back to the store to readjust it, and they couldn't do it either, so they gave me a new one.

I'm happy to report that the pyrrhuloxias and cardinals are again feeding happily; the perch on the door swings down exactly far enough for them to pluck seeds out of the hole. The woodpeckers, however, are extremely frustrated. I watched a male yesterday try for two or three minutes: first sticking his beak between the door and the feeder from the top, then from the bottom, then from the side. He eventually succeeded in dislodging one seed from the hole, and swooped down to the ground to snatch it up. But there has been much less trying by the woodpeckers today. I guess they get the message that the free buffet has closed.

Still quite a few hummers around. There's a mature male Costa with very fluffy white bib behind the ears and under the chest. It looks like cotton. I also might have spotted a little Rufous the other day, but haven't seen it again. The Costa juvenile male is still around. I'm finding that these guys are a good deal less skittish than some other hummers. Sure wish i still had Broadbills around....

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

October 5, 2005
I have a few hummers now, very aggressive and apparently tanking up for migration. I know for sure that I have male Anna's and Costa's, because I have seen their beautiful gorgets in the sun. A week ago I also had a juvenile Costa's, identifiable by what looked like lavender ribbons at his throat, where his gorget was just coming in.

Also last week a small hawk visited my pond while I was on the exercise bicycle (so I didn't look at it through binoculars). It was small--about the size of a white-tail dove--and fairly pale, with a dark-and-white striped tail. Its profile resembled that of a bald eagle. My raptor-expert correspondent thinks that based on my description it was likely a male sharp-shinned hawk, which would be another first for me.

In other news, at least one woodpecker has figured out the cardinal feeder. He sits on the perch and maneuvers his beak down between the sliding door and the feeder, then grabs a seed from the feeding hole. Today my yard guy planted the pomegranate tree in the ground east of the pond, and the bottle-brush outside the pond area, to the north. I hope they both do well. I'm going to put flowers in pots around the pond for winter, but don't know about next summer. I guess it partly depends on how much everything else grows by then.

And a final weather note: I keep thinking it's going to stop being hot, but it's still in the mid nineties, and for the last few days has also been humid. Supposedly this weekend it will suddenly drop to the low eighties. That will be a shock--it will probably feel freezing!