This morning, while weeding the edge of a flower garden, I saw my first Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Actually, I heard him before I saw him, as he hovered low to the ground to taste the nectar of some pretty blue violets. I've come to enjoy pulling weeds over the years and glimpses like this are just one of the reasons why.
Noticing movement in the grass in front of me, I bend down and easily pick up a small Red-bellied snake. When he crawls along the ground, his upper side is an inconspicuous brown-gray color. I like to pick them up (they are quite harmless) and turn them over to see their bright orange/red bellies. The little 8 or 9-inch snake doesn't even try to bite me, and I put him back in the tall grass and send him on his way.
There have been a couple of Barn swallows in the yard the past few days. I enjoy watching their aerial acrobatics as they circle above the yard and garden catching flying insects. The males are quite handsome with their shiny purple/black feathers. When they fly by close, I can see their orange bib and breast feathers. I'm hoping they like it here and decide to stay and raise their families in a nest in the shed, or up under the eaves of the house.
The west side of the old machine shed is covered by the dried vines of last year's Morning glories. In fact, there are two years of vines that I haven't pulled down, and I'm going to leave them up again this year, for two reasons. One, because there's a Robins' nest cradled in the vines, and two, there's a nest of Cardinals in the vines about 12 feet from the Robins. I'll plant new Morning glory seeds, and they will cover over the old vines for the summer.
The mushroom hunters are enjoying a good harvest again this spring. Hunting for morels a great way to take in the natural beauty of this area, the Coulee region. There's nothing like the smell of fresh morels frying in Organic Valley butter—it's just plain hard to beat.
While poking around through the May apples under a big dead elm tree, my attention was drawn away from finding mushrooms by the busy song of a Catbird, only a few yards away. He sings a continuous assortment of odd notes and phrases, besides the catlike mewing that gives him his name. The Catbird made himself right at home, landing on the porch rail to peck at an orange half that I had put out for the Orioles.
After several weeks of dry weather, the rain came in the night. It was a nice, gentle rain with a little thunder and lightning. I'm especially glad for the rain because it was getting pretty dry in the gardens and I was getting tired of carrying five gallon pails of water for the thirsty plants.
New babies to report: Little bunnies along the edge of the roadsides dart into the tall grass as the cars pass by. Young Great Horned owls have fledged and the new green leaves on the tree branches give them a place to hide during the day. Tiny little downy Woodcocks scatter under my feet as I walk slowly thru the woods. Their mother tries to draw me away from them, doing a "broken wing act" 10 yards away. Soon there will be new Mallard ducklings and little goslings showing up on the ponds and backwaters. I wouldn't be surprised if someone has already seen a little newborn fawn. There's so much to experience when you take the time for a walk down Nature's trail.
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