Tag Archive | hummingbirds

This Week in Sunflowers

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This week in sunflowers… and other yellow things. Diverse native bees, including the sunflower bee (Svastra, I think: the males have unusually long antennae) are buzzing and feeding in the sunflowers, and a few goldfinches have come for seeds but fly too fast from me when I come out with the camera. Grasshoppers continue to maraud every living plant, including the gladioli, giving me a window into a bud.Pollinator-9001

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Dahlias are suffering worse than glads from grasshopper predation, though these later blooms are in better shape than those in early summer; enough flower left to provide for this bumblebee. Bumblebees are so complicated, with any one species having so much variety in parts and patterns, queens and workers and males all different sizes with different color sternites, tergites, and corbicular fringes, variable leg part sizes and cheek ratios… It would take more time and focus than I have now to even try to learn them. We have about 13 species in this part of Colorado. But I can’t even remember that many. One, two, or possibly three more species below, on Prince’s Plume, mullein, and Rocky Mountain beeplant respectively.

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Meanwhile, the fernbush, Chamaebateria, has also been blooming, attracting more flies than bees, and a few butterflies as well, including this Painted Lady.

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But who will this adorable, soft creature turn into one day? I rescued it from porch sweepings, and dropped it into some leaf litter, but not before examining it on my breakfast plate. Its antennae surprised me, popping out when I scared it, then sucking back into the top of its round face. Here, they’re halfway back in, after shooting straight out in alarm.

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Dragonfly perched on a radish seedpod.

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Those horrible thunks against the window… I heard one on the west kitchen window last week and saw the body drop. Dashed outside, around the Foresteria loosing masses of purple berries to the ground, beyond the woodpile, and tiptoed through the mess of palettes, hoses, wire cages, and empty pots to find this young yellow warbler out cold on the ground. I carried him around to the south side of the house looking for a good shady perch, and set him in a sturdy crook in the apricot tree. Brought the cats inside and left him there for awhile. When I went back he had flown, so that was one good deed for that day.

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Then, just this afternoon, another smack into the east window. Outside, a tiny hummingbird facedown in a geranium pot. Its beak was a little askew. In my hand it was weightless, but its minuscule heart pounded. Cats secured inside, I set the hummingbird in a shoebox in the shade, putting a twig under its barely perceptible toes, and set a small bowl of water in front of it as it wobbled on its perch. I shut the lid for awhile, then checked, and tipped the water bowl so it could reach without moving. It flicked its threadlike tongue into the water. I dumped the water and filled the bowl with nectar, and it drank again from the tipped bowl.

I shut the lid for another ten minutes; checked again, tipped again, left again. The fact that it was still alive encouraged me, though I was distressed it didn’t fly right off. Half an hour later I returned and opened the lid, tipped the bowl for another drink. I left the lid open and checked again in another half hour, dismayed to see the bird still there. But as I moved toward the bowl, the little bird cocked its little pea-head then zipped out of the box, up and out of sight! Sometimes all they need is a safe space for long enough to get their head on straight.

Not long after that, I caught a goldfinch in the sunflowers.

 

September Already

Young hummingbirds find the potted flowers appealing. This one circled the yellow snapdragons sipping from several.

Young hummingbirds find the potted flowers appealing. This one circled the yellow snapdragons sipping from several. Honeybee in pursuit.

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With cutting back and a few feedings through the summer, and I mean just a few, the snapdragons and other potted flowers are blooming again, with bells on. And hummingbirds. And bees. Cooler days and nights, and a few good rains, really rejuvenated them after the dog days of July. Dog days, ha. This was a pretty mild and cool summer. Cooler nights, five to ten degrees lower many nights than the same time last year, have also contributed to the tomatoes’ lack of productivity. I haven’t seen the dear old doe for weeks, and wonder if she’s eaten her last from my garden, from this good green earth, and moved on to feed a lion, or just sink back into the flow. So I’m finally harvesting a handful of small tomatoes, or, a small handful of tomatoes, about once a week.

Funny how the garden changes so dramatically over the course of the summer, but does it so slowly, in barely perceptible increments, so that one day I look across a certain way and see how completely different it is from the last time I looked. Rabbitbrush is in full bloom already, and it seems the hummingbirds are heading out a little early, though still plenty in my yard. The skies have been full of Canada geese the past few days, flying over in ribbons of dozens at a time, honking enthusiastically about their journey. The bee plant continues to flourish and hum, blooming garlic chives are also full of bees, and fall peas have just pushed through the ground.

More fun with Rocky Mountain bee plant, Cleome serrulata.

More fun with Rocky Mountain bee plant, Cleome serrulata.

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Honeybee on blue mist spirea, Worcester gold variety. This reliable late-season flower is buzzing with bees from early August into late September.

Honeybee on blue mist spirea, Worcester gold variety. This reliable late-season flower is buzzing with bees from early August into late September.

Bumblebee on the same.

Bumblebee on the same.

At Play in Fields of Bees

Beeplant and sunflowers grow with abandon in the hottest, driest part of the garden, a lush late summer banquet for bees and birds.

Beeplant and sunflowers grow with abandon in the hottest, driest part of the garden, a lush late summer banquet for bees and birds.

Rocky Mountain Beeplant, sown twenty years ago around the rustic trailer I used to inhabit, down where the Butterfly Bed is now. This wildflower blooms and seeds prolifically in areas where I let it, and seems content to do so. I pull stray seedlings when they're tiny, so easy they are to recognize, and let them flourish in certain spaces. Knowing what delight they'll bring in late summer, for honeybees, wild bees and hummers.

Rocky Mountain Beeplant, sown twenty years ago around the rustic trailer I used to inhabit, down where the Butterfly Bed is now, blooms and seeds prolifically in areas where I let it, and seems content to do so. I pull stray seedlings when they’re tiny, so easy they are to recognize, and let them flourish in certain spaces. Knowing what delight they’ll bring in late summer, for honeybees, wild bees and hummers.

They start to flower in late July and just keep on going, growing new blooms up and up the stalk, transforming downward into seedpods.

They start to flower in late July and just keep on going, growing new blooms up and up the stalk, transforming downward into seedpods.

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These green-eyed, pollen-packed wild bees constantly prowl the sunflowers. Hey! Get off! This one's mine!

These green-eyed, pollen-packed wild bees constantly prowl the sunflowers. Hey! Get off! This one’s mine!

Despite not being in right relationship with the grasshoppers, I can recognize a striking composition when it's given.

Despite not being in right relationship with the grasshoppers, I can recognize a striking composition when it’s given.

And that pesky doe. Caught her in the act again, eating the last half dozen tomatoes this tired bush is likely to ripen. Just look at her! I can't begrudge her.

And that pesky doe. Caught her in the act again, eating the last half dozen tomatoes this tired bush is likely to ripen. Just look at her! I can’t begrudge her, though. She needs them more than I do.

But I can try to salvage a few bites for myself, so I gently spook her away. Next year I'll fence the food gardens, for sure.

But I can try to salvage a few bites for myself, so I gently spook her away. Next year I’ll fence the food gardens, for sure.

 

Harvest Festival

The first snow down to our elevation arrived overnight Thursday, a good two inches.

The first snow down to our elevation arrived overnight Thursday, a good two inches.

I spent most of the week, and especially Wednesday and Thursday, bringing in everything from the garden: the last tomatoes (red and green), peppers, squash, rose hips, legal marijuana, and all the house plants from the patio. Usually it’s not until the third week in October that the temperatures drop into the 20’s, but Friday morning’s low was 29, and this morning’s 25. Overnight Thursday my sunroom turned into a narrow hallway, filled with a dozen cacti, half a dozen geraniums and as many jades, two lime trees, potted basil, peppers, rosemary, and chives, and a bunch of ornamentals. But before the snow I took plenty of pictures.

Agastache, hummingbird mint, a reliable late-season hummingbird feeder, remains in bloom long after I've taken down the feeders; late migrants passing through find plenty of sustenance here, and the sphinx moths love it.

Agastache, hummingbird mint, a reliable late-season hummingbird feeder, remains in bloom long after I’ve taken down the feeders; late migrants passing through find plenty of sustenance here, and the sphinx moths love it.

First harvest of fall carrots, a rainbow mix.

First harvest of fall carrots, a rainbow mix.

The sum total of my Yukon Gold crop; ten plants each produced only a couple of potatoes.

The sum total of my Yukon Gold crop; ten plants each produced only a couple of potatoes.

One row over, these Sangre de Cristo potatoes produced five or six from each of the two plants I've harvested so far. These all came out of the ground still attached at the roots. The other eight plants are mulched under a foot of loose straw for gradual harvest over the next month or so. At least before the ground freezes solid, and who knows when that will be.

One row over, these Sangre de Cristo potatoes produced five or six from each of the two plants I’ve harvested so far. These all came out of the ground still attached at the roots. The other eight plants are mulched under a foot of loose straw for gradual harvest over the next month or so. At least before the ground freezes solid, and who knows when that will be.

Yesterday I brought in eight cups of rose hips off the wild pink rose, with grand plans of making rose hip jelly.

Yesterday I brought in eight cups of rose hips off the wild pink rose, with grand plans of making rose hip jelly.

Out of four cauliflower plants I put in the ground early, three bolted early and produced small, bitter, diffuse heads. But one made a beautiful fruit, and this one I steamed, then chilled and frosted with a spicy avocado spread for a salad called, in the best Indian cookbook ever, Gobhi Salaad.

Out of four cauliflower plants I put in the ground early, three bolted early and produced small, bitter, diffuse heads. But one made a beautiful fruit, and this one I steamed, then chilled and frosted with a spicy avocado spread for a salad called, in the best Indian cookbook ever, Gobhi Salaad.

A rogue daikon radish, one of four that emerged this summer from seeds planted well over a year ago.

A rogue daikon radish, one of four that emerged this summer from seeds planted well over a year ago.

Butternut squash on the vine. After a light freeze to sweeten them up, I harvested two that came from this vine, and one other. Many of these vegetables started out in Ruth's greenhouse, and she generously offered starts around the community.

Butternut squash on the vine. After a light freeze to sweeten them up, I harvested two that came from this vine, and one other. Many of these vegetables started out in Ruth’s greenhouse, and she generously offered starts around the community.

I can't even eat jalapeños! Yet I grow some every year. These will get pickled, because I delight in the idea of pickled peppers. Then I can always have some handy when a spicy dish calls for one or two.

I can’t even eat jalapeños! Yet I grow some every year. These will get pickled, because I delight in the idea of pickled peppers. Then I can always have some handy when a spicy dish calls for one or two.

Butternut, spaghetti, and delicata squashes ready for delicious winter dinners.

Butternut, spaghetti, and delicata squashes ready for delicious winter dinners.

A bountiful calendula patch, thanks to Katrina's snipping of heads early in the season. What seemed brutal at the time resulted in a lush display later, a bright spot in the yard that makes me smile whenever I catch a glimpse in passing. These blooms are drying for tea.

A bountiful calendula patch, thanks to Katrina’s snipping of heads early in the season. What seemed brutal at the time resulted in a lush display and a bountiful harvest later, a bright spot in the yard that makes me smile whenever I catch a glimpse in passing. These blooms are drying for tea.

Garden quiche for Sunday brunch with a homemade crust, eggs from Pamela, and veggies all from the Mirador garden.

Garden quiche for Sunday brunch with a homemade crust, eggs from Pamela, and veggies all from the Mirador garden.

Hard work for two days, Katrina pried out the stepping stones and roughed up the gravel, then I leveled and reset them. I hope this will make it easier to keep them clear of snow and ice when the time comes, all too quickly.

Hard work for two days, Katrina pried out the stepping stones and roughed up the gravel, then I leveled and reset them. I hope this will make it easier to keep them clear of snow and ice when the time comes, all too quickly.

One lovely storm after another moves through these past few weeks.

One lovely storm after another moves through these past few weeks.

 

 

Runaway Summer

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At last the rains came. Last week, almost half an inch over the course of five days, this week half an inch in one 36-hour period, and a few days later, two-tenths in an hour, most of which fell in an eight-minute hail storm that left squash leaves in tatters. But the fear of fire is diminished, and the need to run water on the garden as well.

In the throes of summer’s runaway roller coaster I have been neglecting morning rounds; company, a several day water crisis, a family catastrophe, and the sheer demands of the garden have all conspired to distract me from sharing the wild beauty of Mirador’s blooming yard. For today, a brief synopsis, and hopes that I will do better from now on.

The potted agave that shot up its stalk last summer has finally bloomed, and this too took much of my attention for the past month. How sedately it opened, one cluster at a time. I expected some special moth, or fly, some nighttime pollinator to visit, and was surprised at who came to dominate. Hummingbirds! All three species here have been striving to feed from its dripping nectar but of course the little bulldog rufous birds have held sway.

In the early days of the flowers' opening the rufous hummingbirds began to guard the stalk, fighting amongst themselves and chasing off the black-chinneds and the broadtails.

In the early days of the flowers’ opening the rufous hummingbirds began to guard the stalk, fighting amongst themselves and chasing off the black-chinneds and the broadtails.

As the inflorescences opened more they continued to maintain control.

As the inflorescences opened more they continued to maintain control.

Echinacea opened and bumblebees came.

Echinacea opened and bumblebees came.

Leeks flowered and all manner of bees came.

Leeks flowered and all manner of bees came.

Mullein shot up its neverending flower stalk and honeybees came.

Mullein shot up its neverending flower stalk and honeybees came.

And the hundreds of images I’ve captured in the past month I’ve barely begun to sort; my dear neighbors provided me with an insect field guide that I haven’t had time to study; work deadlines loom large. My dearest auntie lies recovering from a broken hip; I cried myself to sleep last night in fear for her recovery, and awoke this morning way too early to the morning star rising over the West Elk Mountains. But the day dawned crisp and clear, July’s parting gift, and I’m optimistic about everything… for now. The fernbush has opened its candelabra blossoms and welcomes a host of buzzing insects, some too fast and tiny to capture. There is always some lovely distraction outside when I am sad.

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