Summer is Here

The thermostat insists that it is not as hot this week as it was last week, but I’m not convinced. The difference between high-nineties and triple digits is barely perceptible. Both are too hot for comfort.

Even so, the yard remains active. A new dove nest is taking shape, a new wave of dragonflies has arrived, and a clutch of praying mantises have hatched in the ginger lilies.

(I believe this is a Yellow-sided Skimmer.)

While chasing this praying mantis through the ginger lilies, I stumbled across a young katydid. Both creatures were very wary of the camera. It didn’t help that I tend to be too clumsy for stealth.

Failed Nests

The yard’s nests are having a tough year. In April, I discovered a robin’s nest in the wax myrtle. A few days later, a heap of feathers hinted that hawks had claimed another victim. Broken eggs soon joined the feathers.

Now the recent dove’s nest is also empty. I don’t know what happened, only that the nest held two eggs one day, none the next.

Both losses tempt me toward sadness, but how dare I claim sadness? Failed nests are blissfully minor tragedies. Wouldn’t it be a joyous day, if the only news worth reporting involved bird nests?

Wings in the Yard

We bought this speedwell because it was advertised to attract butterflies. I haven’t seen any butterflies on it, but it draws a lot of wasps.

The wasps chase everything away from the speedwell’s bed, but Blue Dasher dragonflies patrol all the other beds.

And, as predicted, Halloween Pennants have begun to arrive.

The bird feeders get less traffic than the flower beds, but not by much. Doves are our most frequent diners. And the hungriest. This one ate so much it could barely fly.

Doves are the most numerous birds in the yard, but the blue jay fledglings are the loudest.

However, their cries cannot compete with the Blue Angels, who are in town for a weekend airshow. The show’s flight path takes them right over our yard…

Birds and Dragonflies

The blue jay babies are fledged, but they haven’t started foraging on their own. They continue to rely on their parents for food. (More about the blue jays here, here, and here.) While the adults flit back and forth, the babies explore the densest parts of our wax myrtle (where I can’t get a picture of them), exercising their voices and wings. There are at least three fledglings, possibly four, though it sounds like there might be a dozen when they shriek in unison.

During occasional blue jay lulls, when the parents forage in other yards (or simply take a break from their raucous brood), doves and sparrows share a turn at the feeder.

The doves gulp seed in greedy excess, then settle on nearby perches to preen and stretch as they digest their meals.

Along with birds, the yard is filling with dragonflies. Eastern Pondhawks have joined last week’s Blue Dashers.

I’ve also seen two or three species I can’t identify, like this golden beauty. (My best guess is a female Needham’s Skimmer. Can anyone confirm or correct that ID?)

Today was hot and humid, just right for June. I mowed through the heat, then sat on the deck to enjoy a fitful breeze stirred by approaching storms. I was tempted, for a moment, to call the yard “mine”. But a burst of blue jay racket reminded me that it isn’t mine at all.

Storm Front

A brief storm tested the dove nest today. Lots of lightning and thunder, but very little wind and only a modest amount of rain. No damage to report, despite the ominous looking clouds. (Photos taken on iPhone and adjusted with the Photoshop Express application.)