I returned to my Utley place after almost 6 weeks of being mostly absent, spending only the night of May 14 here. Much has changed in that time. Completely different than last year, this spring has been one of regular rains . Lots of wildflowers especially Black-eyed Susans that cover the property. It has been more than a decade since I have seen it like this on the place and find it awesome that the seeds of that flower could remain viable for that long. The Bluebonnets, I have the very localized subspecies called Sandy Lands Bluebonnet, must have gone crazy as the now dead plants are all over the place up by the road....Also a bloom I have not seen in several years.
The night I was here on the 14th of May to stay overnight from a business trip to N. Texas, I had little time to look around as I had to be back in S. Texas the next morning. Now back, I am discovering quite a few interesting things around the place. One is pictured to the right. It looks like just two ladders leaning against the wall of the house but the next photo shows that a Cardinal chose this place to build a nest. I have no idea if they were successful in raising a brood or not, however there are several juv. birds about. I am trying hard to remember if I have ever seen a Northern Cardinal use an artificial structure of any kind to construct a nest on but come up empty headed...I just don't think I have.
Also when I returned yesterday evening I heard a constant frog like call right behind the house, maybe less than 25 ft. from the back door. I knew exactly what it was so I did little except open the back door for some breeze. The cat however ran out the back, and when I went to retrieve her I saw a
Chuck-will's-widow fluttering thru the dense brush in distraction mode.. A quick glance revealed she had left two half grown chicks in the leaf litter. I grabbed the cat and kept her in thereafter. Today I went out to photograph the chicks in better morning light and they were gone, however a short walk back into the woods found me disturbing the adult again so I made no further attempts to locate the young. It is pretty potent to have a Chuck calling from 30 behind your house all the while neighboring birds on territory are also calling. I guess my question is, can an adult Chuck incite/provoke it's young to move elsewhere when they are not yet fledged?
Since I was not here virtually the entire migration period/spring , I now find the property to be a jungle. I do not mow, I don't even own a mower and would not mow if I had one... Have no use for such wicked things so the place gets really over grown which I like. The Trumpet Vines high up in the oaks are in gorgeous full bloom this year finally, which is distracting the hummingbirds for now. However at least one Buff-bellied continues to come in to the feeders which I replaced with fresh stuff instead of the "whiskey water and carpenter ant" cocktail that was in them before my return
Here is a shot of the front "yard". I hate to call it a yard as I don't like the term but you know how it is. That bird box amid the Black-eyed Susans has at least it's second brood of intergrade (Dixon's) Titmice. There are 5 young in there now that will fledge out within the week. The pole is well greased with automotive grease to keep any rat snake from climbing up it. And while I was more interested in getting Bluebirds to nest here, I am perfectly happy to have the titmice use it. Today I have often seen curious chickadees come and visit the box and check out the youngsters inside . The adult titmice do not seem to mind at all.
There is a Yellow-billed Cuckoo nest in a Cedar Elm down the lane but it is too high to peer into. The Blue-gray Gnatcatchers have finished nesting and now there is a family group of 5-6 roaming the property.
Rotten bananas I put out upon my return are covered with butterflies, including a rare (for here) Eastern Comma and a somewhat worn Mourning cloak.
There are baby toads the size of my thumb nail everywhere ...Anoles and skinks keep a roadrunner handy.
Finally within a mere 15-20 minute after my return, the crow people came in and milled awaiting chow waiting treats they knew would be forthcoming. The two tames ones were chatting away. I had nothing to give them except dried cat food, the expensive stuff too, and as soon as I got it on the feeder and walked 20 feet away Jim was already there wolfing it down. 9-12 pc.s then to the bird bath to soak up some water to go with it before going back for more. They had left another little stone as a prize on the feeder while I was gone. My collection of crow "prizes" is getting larger.