Life is one big nature conservatory here at our house lately. I suppose it's one of the benefits of Spring. Here's what I mean:
1. I looked up from breakfast the other morning to see a shadowy figure moving on the far side of the fairway. Unsure of what it was, I went to the window to study it more closely. It finally raised it's head and turned enough that I could see it was a bird but a very large one. I quickly retrieved the binoculars and focused in on a wild turkey out for a breakfast of her own. We've seen them along the treeline now and then but it's been quite a while so I was pleased to see at least some were still in the area.
2. As I headed out for my walk later that same day, the neighbor across the street called me over and pointed out this in the tree.
He called it a hive and, not knowing anything about bees, I accepted his statement as fact. It dangled from a not-very-big limb no more than 10' off the ground and, to borrow a fitting phrase, it was a beehive of activity with bees flying all around it. It was as big around as a basketball and a foot or so in length.
When Wayne saw a strange man with a ladder approaching it the next morning, he surmised it was a beekeeper and he headed over to watch the process of removing it. He was right about the man being a beekeeper and he learned that this was, in fact, a swarm not a hive. Somewhere in the middle of that mass of bees was the queen.
Wayne expected the guy to don one of those beekeeping suits or fire up a smoker to calm the bees but the process was a whole lot less complicated. He basically held a bucket (that Wayne provided since he wasn't in his regular truck and didn't have one) under the bees, gave the branch a whack and the swarm fell in with a thump. Well, most of them anyway. There were a few small clumps of bees on the ground and he picked them up with his bare hands and added them to the bucket. Not me...but he did. A light rain was falling and the man said that helped keep the bees from being aggressive. Off the queen and her horde of admirers went to become future honey-makers.
3. The humming birds are back. Wayne looked up from his desk to see one in the azaleas outside his window Friday morning. (It would seem we spend a lot of time looking out the window, wouldn't it.) I put a serious scrub on the feeder, made up a batch of sugar-water and hung it out on the hook off the back porch. A few hours later, we spotted one drinking his fill. In fact, the feeder was empty in less than a day. I refilled it yesterday and I think this one will last longer. That's because there are at least two hummers wanting to partake of the sugar buffet. I'm not sure either of them is getting anything to eat as every time I see them they are chasing one another off.
4. No pictures of the hummingbirds but I do have this
I spent the better part of the day cleaning out one of the flower beds in the backyard. It has seven big gardenia bushes in it, three of which didn't fare well in this winter's ice and freezing temperatures. The mission for the day was to cut them back to the ground in the hopes they'll rebound and clean out all the oak leaves that have accumulated there this spring. It's been a bumper year for oak leaves.
I must have worked in the flowerbed where this bush is for five or more hours today before I spotted the nest and I probably wouldn't have then except for the momma bird. I was sitting on the ground on one side of the bush throwing volcano rock back into the flower bed and the she flew into the other side to scold me for being so close. She didn't stay long and she wasn't especially aggressive; she just wanted me to know she didn't like me being there. I finished up in that spot as quickly as possible to get back on her good side. We've had brown thrashers nesting in other bushes before and it's always nice to have wildlife share our backyard. Well, except for squirrels and armadillos.
5. And finally there was this:
OK, so a concrete bunny doesn't exactly qualify as nature but I did discover it in the middle of the flower bed. He looks a little worse for wear after hiding in there for years and years. He and all those leaves he's resting on are now in the barrel and the flower bed looks much, much better.
It seemed a fitting end to Easter Sunday: I found the eggs and made short work of the bunny. Who knows what might turn up next.