Posted by: atowhee | July 29, 2018


July 29, 2018

Our temperature continues to beat 90 degrees every afternoon.  The mornings dawn with blue-sky, no breeze and clear air.  The forest fires are burning beyond our protecting mountain ranges.  I made a visit to our small vegetable garden, carrying water.  I noticed one small bee in a sunflower.  One of our golden fuzzies, less a half-inch long, he settles into the florets.  I peer closely and see that his two pollen pouches, one on each thigh, are loaded. They are mounded with golden grains of pollen, even brighter than the bee himself.

“Our” young swifts have taken to the air.  Silence has returned to the chimney where they were born.  Now these new swifts have joined the small, scattered flocks swirling overhead.  Later this summer the family groups and neighborhood flocks will coalesce into bigger groups.  Those in turn become a stream of thousands of Vaux’s Swifts moving southward in September, using well-known chimneys for evening roosts.  I once saw over 14,000 pour into a century-old brick kiln chimney in San Rafael. A few dozen birders watched, rapt, as the birds descended in a reverse tornado of pointed wings.  The evening roost drained the air of swifts and their would-be predators.  Swallows here are already gathering in dozens to feed in daytime at food-rich marshes.

A young Spotted Towhee hopped around beneath our feeders today.  His back is a dark brown with flecks of white and the chest orange is just beginning to show.  Not all nesting is complete.  I saw a male junco carrying food this morning in our local oak grove…nestlings somewhere on the ground is an out-of-traffic location.

This past week I ate the last of this summer’s blueberry crop.  Now the blackberries are ripening.  A neighbor has a nutful (rather than fruitful) hazelnut tree.  These days a squirrel or two will be there every time I pass.  The ground around the old hazel, really a multi-trunked shrub about fifteen feet high, is littered with nut shells.  The kernels have been enjoyed or cached against the nutless winter that comes.AC-PECKERSUNFLWRS

Also, last week I watched a pair of Red-tailed Hawks circling in tandem.  I watched them off and on for fifteen minutes.  This pair was deliberately flying close to one another. The size difference was clear.  It may have been an adult pair, done with raising young for the year, but still sharing their territory. They both appeared to be adults so it was not parent and offspring.

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