Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring this and that

We have a new five seasons garden at Tohono Chul Park. These lovely flowers are in the Spring Garden:spring garden wildflowers 3-15-2010 8-22-02 AM 3616x2712
The pink ones are penstemons, tiny trumpet flowers. We have some at home. The other evening I watched (through the living room window) as a hummingbird worked the penstemons methodically, going from flower to flower, top to bottom of one stalk, then moving to the next stalk, bottom to top, and so on.
That same evening I watched the quails gather to roost… quite of lot of them. But then I got distracted by a bobcat in the yard. It just wandered around a little then headed for the wash in back of the house. I was thinking the quails didn’t seem too disturbed… until they started to fly out of the palo verde trees where they’d taken refuge.
Finally, the baby hummer raised by the mama (a Costa’s, I have had confirmed) in a previous post, has flown the nest. But I got his/her picture before he left:
Baby hum 3-22-2010 11-08-31 AM 975x803

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bird sex

It’s starting up… the male quails are doing their aggressive chest-bumping (which they must have learned from watching the NBA), cardinals seem to be paired off, all kinds of birds are flying around with nesting materials in their beaks.
At Tohono Chul Park, in a little gazebo in an undisclosed location, I photographed this lovely little mother hummingbird. I think she is a Costa’s but am not certain. Since I took the photo the eggs have hatched, and if I’m lucky I may get a picture of the babies.Beautiful hummer mama 2-17-2010 8-35-24 AM 3616x2712
Interesting bonus fact about hummingbird nests: they are elasticized with spider silk, which allows the nest to expand as the hatchlings grow.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Back to Nature

I’m finally finished with my docent studies and will be working as a docent at Tohono Chul Park. So now I have time to return to nature blogging. Let me start with my bees. A swarm (which I found is actually called a cluster) of bees landed in our palo verde tree nearly three weeks ago. swarm in tree 2-17-2010 4-16-56 PM 3108x2712 Based on reading, we assumed the bees would find a new place to live and move on soon. But they didn’t count on the weird, cold, rainy weather we’ve been having for a few weeks. After a couple of days of freezing rain, the once-robust swarm was reduced by about half:
full swarm cu2-17-2010 4-17-25 PM 3616x2712 2-17-2010 4-17-25 PM 1878x2622  half swarm 2-23-2010 9-53-09 AM 3616x2712
The second is a closer shot, but shows about the bottom half of the original swarm. What happens is the bees on the outside freeze and fall off…
Anyway, against all odds the remaining bees managed to pull themselves together almost two weeks to the day from when they arrived. That morning they were very agitated, with a lot of bees flying in and out of the cluster. By midafternoon they were gone.
lonely scouts 3-3-2010 4-45-30 PM 1517x2089
…. except for a tiny handful of scouts that didn’t get the message. A few of them are still buzzing around, looking confused, wondering where everyone went. Without the rest of the colony they are doomed.