Friday, June 20, 2014

What is the sound of one hoof clapping?

The neighbors' cows look placid this morning, but they're capable of stampeding at a moment's notice. I know this because the last time I walked up near the cow pasture, Hopeful charged toward the fence and startled the cows on the other side. She's an intelligent dog who knows better than to tangle with a barbed-wire fence, but the cows don't know that. This morning they eyed us with some concern.

On the power line above the pasture a mockingbird was running through his repertoire. I read somewhere that female mockingbirds are attracted to the males who voice the greatest variety of calls, and if that's true, this guy must be the Alpha male of the mockingbird flock--he sounded like a birdsong CD set on random. Every few minutes he would flip up off the power line and do an acrobatic maneuver like an aerial cartwheel, and then he would settle back down to sing some more. Was he taking a bow? I didn't notice any cows clapping.

Careful observation reveals that the oriole nest in the big tulip poplar has been abandoned, and in fact I haven't seen or heard from any orioles since I returned from Louisville. The prairie warblers are still around, as are the indigo buntings, towhees, common yellowthroats, and about a million chipping sparrows. This morning I watched a Carolina wren digging up some sort of yummy grub from the front garden, and I sat there for a while trying to get some hummingbird photos but I was thwarted by a bossy little bird that sat on the phone line monitoring the feeders. Every time another hummingbird would come to feed, Mr. Boss-bird would swoop down and chase the other bird away. I snapped a few shots but captured nothing but colorful blurs.

Up our hill the milkweed is abundant and on the verge of blooming, which is good news for the butterfly population. I saw a bunch of fritillaries and some tiny blues but nothing else, and it occurs to me that I haven't seen a single tiger or zebra swallowtail so far this season. It's early--maybe they'll come back. And in other news, the volunteer catalpa tree growing way too close to the driveway has produced these lovely white blossoms frosted with pink. One of these days we'll have to cut that tree down to prevent it from infringing upon the driveway, but for now we're enjoying the show.

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