Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Home (4/9/2014)

My travel schedule has lightened up somewhat, so I will be posting fewer pictures of the state and more from around what we call the Virginia Lower Peninsula and Richmond.  My travel schedule will pick up in earnest around the middle of June.  But it is so nice to be home and lay my head down on my own pillow for the next month or so, especially now spring is just around the corner and it is time to work on my sailboat and our home, in particular the garden.

It is also good to telework and every time you look up from your computer screen you see the yard, the birds on the feeder (maybe not the cowbird that is feeding right now) and even sometimes a deer under the birdfeeder.  I guess it should not be unusual to see cowbirds and deer at our feeders.  We live on the edge of a large forest, and cowbirds are edge species.  They are nest predators, meaning that they lay their eggs in the nests of unsuspecting birds.  It is kind of sad and funny at the same time to watch a tufted titmouse feed a much larger young baby cowbird, thinking it is their offspring.  Cowbirds do not go too far into the woods and it is the forest fragmentation caused by our increasing urbanization that creates so much forest edge.  As a result the cowbirds are slowly replacing all the songbirds that depend on the interior of the forests such as vireos and warblers, by laying their eggs in the nest of these forest birds; something they could not do (or did not dare) in the past.  It is the same thing with the deer; they are running out of room and food in the woods and are therefore invading the neighborhoods at night, eating plants and spreading ticks (lyme) at night.
Sitting here at the dining room table I can see the sassafras and the flowering quince in bloom; redbud is about to start, as is the dogwood.  I think by the weekend they will be at their best.  Soon it will also be snowing pine pollen, which is amazing in our area.  I am wondering if any of our plants did not make it through our unusually harsh winter, only time will tell.  This picture is of the quince in our bag yard, and you can probably see the dogwood starting to bloom.  Thanks goodness the deer don’t like the quince; that is very different from the azaleas which they strip. 

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