Thursday, April 29, 2010

Springtime Backyard

I mowed the lawn on Monday afternoon, so that gave me a good opportunity to see what kind of "nature" events were occuring in the backyard. First and foremost, I wanted to check on the progress of the bluebirds because there was only 1 egg in this nest when I checked previously on Saturday night. Wow! 4 eggs! That's exciting and hopefully there will be baby bluebirds hatched in this nextbox in about 2 weeks.

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.

Well, that's about it. It's been pretty dry here with more rain in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow, so hopefully there will be some new flowers blooming the next time I mow the lawn.


Mama Pea said...

I had never seen or even heard of a 13-lined ground squirrel before so it was interesting to see your picture. Our dandelions are just starting to come out, but I'm sure they're a little slow because of our lack of moisture. Our honey bees love them, too, as they are often the only thing blossoming at this time.

Anonymous said...

WOW! It sure is fun mowing with you, there is so much to see when riding. For 25 years we mowed the church property, so when you are pushing a mower to trim around all the tombstones in the cemetary, and the trees and buildings and slopes you have to look where you are going. We were proud of our work even if it took 2 days. Dad rode the rider and I pushed the mower to trim. We enjoyed being outdoors and have everything looking nice.


Kelly said... the look of those eggs--they are gorgeous. I can't wait to see all the babies that will be hopping around your yard! ....I have never heard of a 13-lined ground squirrel! I'll have to look him up. Cool photo...

KGMom said...

Looks like spring is in full bloom and full swing around your place.

Gaelyn said...

Thanks for the stroll around your backyard, it's such a nature wonderland. And I love you speckled dandelion lawn.

Jayne said...

My first brood of baby Bluebirds is about ready to fledge any day. Not sure how many there are. Love seeing those beautiful blue eggs.

Oh, what I'd give to have nesting Tree Swallows!

I've never seen the 13-lined squirrels!

Bonnie said...

That is so exciting to have bluebird eggs. It is going to be awesome to have baby birds in your nest.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mama Pea,
I've always known them as streaked gophers until I actually learned the proper name was 13-lined ground squirrel.
I saw on the news that you got some rain yesterday? Hopefully that and some warm temps will bring spring to the north country for you.

Hi Mom,
I remember those mowing days.....esp. the mad rush to get everything done in time for Memorial Day. I still like mowing and the John Deere rider makes our big yard more fun than chore.

Hi Kelly,
I scared poor Mrs. Bluebird out of the nestbox last night....checking to make sure she hadn't laid one more egg (still only 4). I'll keep an eye on her and be sure to share baby pictures when available!

It sure is Donna! The longer days and beautiful spring sights, sounds and smells are the reward of surviving another long, dark and cold Minnesota winter.

Glad you could come along Gaelyn. A neighbor who lives up the street (NE) of us spent several days last week spraying for dandelions. In summer, SW is the most common wind direction here....can you guess where all my dandelion seeds will be going in a few days? ;-)

Hi Jayne,
I'll watch for pics of your little bluebird fledglings. They are so cute.
Hopefully you'll never see the 13-lined ground squirrels in your yard--they make too many holes!

Thanks Bonnie. I'm looking forward to baby bluebirds too. This pair is at the far end of my backyard and I think there's another pair looking at one of my Gilbertson houses up by the driveway. It would be really neat to have 2 bluebird families living nearby.

troutbirder said...

Interesting backyard I'd say. I love the comment about the dandelions and the honey bees. My neighbor, in our old house, is a herbicide freak and not a single dandelion is to be found there. Yuk!

Marianne, aka Ranger Anna said...

Hooray for dandylions! Takes a person of stout heart to not have the urge to go kill 'em all off, just because the Jones next door do. My neighbor and I keep our yards 'too weedy' according to lots of folks, but we suspect most folks are just jealous! Wonderful tour.

Robin Ripley said...

I love, love, love the dandelion lawn! We have a patch of buttercups. I don't consider them weeds at all.