Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Wednesday Vignette: Some chores have to be put off

While my garden came through the heatwaves in late April and early May relatively unscathed overall, a few plants didn't fare well at all.  Those in the latter category included the two Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl' in the dry garden on the northeast side.  They usually produce sporadic blooms during the winter months, reserving their heaviest showing for spring; however, they bloomed more heavily than usual this winter.

These photos were taken in January

They flushed out again in April following the rain but the first heatwave in late April left them looking sad and May's follow-up made things worse.

They were sticking out like sore thumbs against rest of the greenery here


I decided I couldn't stand looking at them like that and started cutting the prickly foliage back on Monday.  I noticed that a couple of birds seemed especially agitated by my presence.  I guessed they might have a nest nearby but I hadn't expected to find it buried in the interior of the dense, needle-like foliage of the Leptospermum, until I came close to cutting into it.

This is the best photo I was able to manage.  The nest is crammed in among the dried foliage and dead flowers and I had difficulty getting the camera to focus.  I also didn't want to disturb any inhabitants by moving branches that might dislodge it.

Here are the worried parents, California Towhees I think


I believe there's at least one nestling in it as I'm sure I saw an open beak.  Much as I'd have liked to confirm that with a closer look, I gave up the effort to get a better shot as my presence so distressed the adult birds.  At least California Towhees aren't as fierce as the local mockingbirds.  The mockingbirds don't hesitate to attack intruders threatening their nests; I see them go after both hawks and crows daily and I've no doubt they'd swoop at a human intruder as well.  Needless to say, I decided the task of trimming the Leptospermum could wait a few weeks.

I may have a hard time photographing the birds in my garden but lizards are much easier.  I can't walk a foot without a lizard zipping across my path.  And, when they're happily baking on a warm rock, they don't hustle to seek cover either.

This is a western fence lizard, aka the blue-belly.  That blue glow you see here on the lizard's stomach and neck isn't an optical illusion.


That's my Wednesday Vignette this week.  For more, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

23 comments:

  1. Oh, I'm so glad you discovered the nest before it was too late! Sad news on my little humming birds from a few weeks ago. The egg (I think it was only one) hatched alright, and I could see its small beak poke up over the rim of the nest. Then, two days later, it was empty! I think it became someone's meal. I've seen both owls and crows in that tree. Such is nature, I guess, but it still made me sad. I had SO looked forward to seeing it grow and become a fledgling... And, I never did get a better photo.

    Love the blue-bellied lizards!

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    1. Oh, I'm sorry that the hummingbird eggs didn't have a chance to hatch, Anna! I'm sure that's very, very common but worthy of mourning nonetheless.

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  2. I hope they aren't too upset and get back to parenting!

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    1. They're still chirping away every time I hesitate even momentarily in the area, Eliza, so I suspect their parental responsibilities continue.

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  3. Oh, good thing you found the nest before you accidentally clipped it! 'Pink Pearl' is beautiful!

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    1. 'Pink Pearl' WAS beautiful, Beth. It looks sorry indeed at the moment but I've no doubt it'll make a comeback, even if the flowers are done until cooler weather returns later in the year.

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  4. Poor Towhees! Hope they were not overly disturbed. I do not know where they nest here, but they are always around, so somewhere near. The scrub jays are in the bougainvillea across the street. I see them popping in and out.

    Lovely Leptospermum!

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    1. I think I have scrub jays nesting in our bay laurel hedge and I suspect the hummingbirds have nests nearby too but I've yet to pinpoint those.

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  5. I consider myself favored when birds choose to nest in my yard, even if it is a slight inconvenience for a month or so. Wildlife seems to find your gardens an oasis, as they should. You've created a paradise for them.

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    1. I saw the first bunny late yesterday afternoon too, although there are signs they've been around for awhile.

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  6. "I can't walk a foot without a lizard zipping across my path"... I wouldn't survive this :-D

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    1. I've said that, if I wanted to assign a name to my garden, it might be Lizardville. The good news is that western fence lizards are beneficial, killing the Lyme bacteria in ticks. And they don't bite if you leave them alone ;)

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    2. All that may be true, but can they do anything for cardiac arrest? I'd be laying on the path with lizards trying to revive me...

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  7. Funny that you should write about these subjects today. As I was sitting in my screen house this morning I watched as a Cardinal built its nest. It was fun watching the female collecting just the right sticks and the male keeping a lookout for danger.
    Then later in the afternoon a friend of ours (90 year old) called in a panic because she had sat down to potty and looked across the room and there was a 'gecko' in her bathroom. She was in a panic. ha... we dashed over to her house to rescue the 'gecko'. ha.. we don't have geckos in Indiana. It was probably a fence lizard or a skink but by the time we got there it had skittered somewhere else in the house. I assured her that it would make its way out of the house like it came in. We left her with a safety net, literally. A small butterfly net they could possibly catch it in. She lives with her daughter. It just seemed too comical to me.

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    1. It was kind of you to rush to your friend's assistance, Lisa! It probably should surprise all of us that there aren't more creatures in our houses. My cat brought in a lizard from her "catio" 2 days ago and, as she likes to do, announced her conquest by dropping the lizard in our living room. A merry chase ensued but, this time, I was able to catch and release it outside unhurt before hid itself behind furniture somewhere or the cat ate it, neither of which would have been positive outcomes.

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  8. I'm so glad you detected the nest before it was too late, unlike me who is still racked with guilt at about disturbing one here and the subsequent "death" of 4 eggs.

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    1. The birds do too good a job hiding their nests sometimes, Loree. However, there's probably a good chance there was time for the birds to produce another nest and eggs before the season concluded.

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  9. Kris, I couldn't help but to think of you when I read this article. It might give you a new way to look at your gopher problem. Good luck...
    https://www.gardendesign.com/how-to/gophers.html?utm_source=article-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Gophers-5-28-20

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    1. Ha! I get Garden Design's newsletters too and saved this very article last night! I've got the sonic thingy, as well as the deterrent granules, but I don't think Mr Gopher has packed up and moved out quite yet - he simply shifted his burrow, which led me to shift my deterrent activity. We'll continue this dance for awhile I suspect before I give up and call for assistance in "relocating" him.

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    2. Funny that you already read the article. He must think he has found heaven in your garden.

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    3. I've recently learned that several of the nearby neighbors seem to have gopher issues. Apparently we have a gopher colony going...Reportedly, one guy is pumping exhaust from a family member's mini-bike into the gopher tunnel, which as I recall is one of the approaches the article did NOT recommend.

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