Saturday, August 13, 2016

Peak Perseid, peak Summer? #phenology

As I sit in a gentle, warm breeze, watching various birds feed on the seeds dropped from the hanging feeder, I wonder if it's possible that, along with the Perseid meteor showers, Summer's hot and humid streak has peaked? For evidence I offer that yesterday's low, flat, dreary, dripping cloud cover has been replaced today with puffy, bright on the top and sides, some light gray underneath, cumulus clouds.

Cardinal, goldfinches, sparrow, junco ground feeding
Cardinal, goldfinches, sparrow, junco ground feeding
Photo by J. Harrington

A fresh supply of sunflower seeds fills the feeders. Dormant sourdough starter has been fed and refreshed in anticipation of bread baking some day soon. (The Better Half has already used some of the excess starter to make a blueberry - nectarine cobbler.) There's also a fresh batch of nectar in the hummingbird feeder, which makes me smile each time I watch a downy woodpecker drink from it. It's delightful how ambitions rise as the dew point drops, although this week's rain has perked up the cardinal flower in the front garden but left us with continuing erosion challenges at a couple of our downspouts.

turkey ground feeding
turkey ground feeding
Photo by J. Harrington

Managing water, especially stormwater  runoff, isn't just a challenge for cities and farmers. Part of our downspout challenge comes from the popularity of dropped seeds which leads to the elimination of any cover crop where underground critters tunnel through roots, while turkeys and songbirds all chomp and scratch on the droppings from the feeders. Unless we stop filling the feeders, there may not be an effective response to the naked ground challenge. I know the turkeys and Cardinals are more comfortable feeding at ground level than at the deck feeder. Sparrows and, often, goldfinches also seem to like ground feeding better. The possibility of new arrangements gives me something to think about this Winter while I remind myself that "we can't have the bonus [good] without the onus [work]."


By Patricia Clark

You can have the grackle whistling blackly 
        from the feeder as it tosses seed,

if I can have the red-tailed hawk perched
        imperious as an eagle on the high branch.

You can have the brown shed, the field mice
        hiding under the mower, the wasp’s nest on the door,

if I can have the house of the dead oak,
        its hollowed center and feather-lined cave.

You can have the deck at midnight, the possum
        vacuuming the yard in its white prowl,

if I can have the yard of wild dreaming, pesky
        raccoons, and the roaming, occasional bear.

You can have the whole house, window to window,
        roof to soffits to hardwood floors,

if I can have the screened porch at dawn, 
        the Milky Way, any comets in our yard.

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Please be kind to each other while you can.