Chilling

Autumn is peeking around July’s skirts already, there’s a coolness about the air and, to quote someone else, winter’s coming!

Sometimes you just have to kick back and see what’s in your own back yard (garden). So Sunday I spent time watching the sheer diversity out back and enjoying it. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are coming through and they seem to prefer my sugar mixture this year. I’ve abandoned the coloured stuff in favour of home brew. I have two males duelling for sugar rights at the moment, no doubt more will follow. Unfortunately they rarely sit out in the open and when they are close enough for a photo they opt for a spot under shade.

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I don’t put butterflies on here very often, I see them though and know most, I have to refresh annually when it comes to the dark little skippers. The garden seems to be attractive to butterflies, 38 species so far, exactly the same number as the odes in fact. One regular in the garden that tends to stick in the canopy is Banded Hairstreak. Sometimes they will drift low to investigate shrubs, doing their little pirouettes and presumably looking for something sticky excreted on the leaf. I can’t say I’ve noticed aphids here but there must be something similar.

Additional – Jeremy Bodycomb has pointed out that the hairstreak is a Striped and not Banded. My bad, I photographed (badly), a Banded at Baie Brazeau recently and rather lazily made a jump to a conclusion about the one in the garden. The Striped is the top one, the Banded the lower.  Thanks Jeremy.

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We rather take Mourning Doves for granted but it really is a great looking bird but one I rarely photograph. While I was waiting for the hummers to pop back, in between squabbles, this dove posed for a while in low light with a nice, dark background.

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Blue Jays are feeding noisy young still, even though they look old enough now to apply for a driving licence! It will soon be Monkey Nut time. Each year we buy a couple of sacks and distribute them around the garden. It keeps the jays and squirrels occupied for hours as they gather up mouthful and bury them everywhere. I’d say that the Red Squirrels get the best deal as they spend as much time under the snow as above in winter. They probably have a mental map of every nut in the garden.

This Eastern Toad was sitting on our front porch recently. It refused to budge and only showed irritation when I bumped its nose with the camera lens.

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This morning I had a walk around the pits. My first Caspian Tern of the year there was nice, as were seven Greater Yellowlegs. Most surprising was the Great Blue Heron explosion (in numbers, not literally). One has been semi-regular recently, today there were 14. The water is falling, or perhaps it was but given the rain today that might have changed. There will be some shorebird spots but not many. The best place is right where the anglers like to leave their discarded line and trash everywhere, so weekend disturbance is likely.

As I understand it, if you come across an angler leaving line on the bank, you can use it on them in much the same way as it is used for the removal of lamb’s tails, and in the same general area. There’s a special knot, I’ll ask Sandra to do an illustration if it helps.

Disclaimer – not all anglers are so thoughtless as to leave fishing line on the bank that then entangles birds, causing them great distress as death might.

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2 thoughts on “Chilling

  1. Hi Mark, I was looking at your Hairstreak photo and I believe it may be a Striped Hairstreak. I was reviewing the different species just the other day for some sightings in my yard (all Banded) and I recall an orange cap over the blue patch was very distinct to Striped Hairstreaks. All other markings are frustratingly similar with this family but that one stood out. Check it out and let me know if you agree CheersJeremy

    Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2014 19:04:13 +0000 To: jerlisa@hotmail.com

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