There are several pairs of tree swallows in the backyard this year. The thing I really like about tree swallows is they're not shy and will let me get really close for pictures before flying away. Right before I snapped this picture, the female flew out of this nest box, but when I checked it, there wasn't any evidence of nesting materials inside the box yet.
It's a different story in this super gourd though. I always put a layer of white pine needles in the bottom of these plastic gourds and when I checked inside, I could see that the swallows have hollowed out their nesting spot on the back wall of this gourd and started adding more grass. In fact, the orange arrow in this photo points out that Mrs. Swallow had another piece of grass in her beak to add to this nest.
I tried really hard to snap a picture of the swallow in the gourd doorway, but I'm just not fast enough! I thought this shot of her soaring towards the entrance was pretty neat though. I really enjoy watching these swallows flying around in the backyard for a few months each spring and summer. The backyard is definitely a much quieter place once these swallows and their new families depart at the end of July.
In the wild lower part of the backyard, I discovered some wild plums blooming. I didn't remember these from previous years, but the plants were pretty big, so obviously they've been growing here for a while. I just LOVE the scent of these blossoms and can't resist stopping to inhale deeply every time I pass one of these trees. Someday, I know I won't look close enough before sniffing and inhale a bee or bug......
These 13-lined ground squirrels are taking over the backyard. Cheeky little buggers sit right outside their holes and watch me on the lawnmower. They drive Sophie nuts too. They dive right into their holes when they see her coming and she will stand by the hole forever waiting for them to come back out. Of course, they never do..... (Well, sometimes they do, but I won't share any details of that story except that it involves Mr. Johnson and a 5-gallon bucket of water and a not-so-happy ending for the critter, but lots of satisfaction for Sophie and Mr. Johnson.)
This year, I also have another lovely crop of dandelions for the honeybees visiting from my neighbor's hives. He always shares a quart of golden, delicious honey with us each year and I'd like to think that the flowers in my backyard have contributed to that bounty.
Lots of wild strawberries blooming again this year too. As usual, I'm sure the brown thrasher and robins foraging on the ground will quickly eat any of these fruits before I have the chance to sample them.