Saturday, July 23, 2005

Purple Coneflower with Bee

Of Squirrels and Sunflowers

This morning I woke up bright and early knowing that the feeder would be empty. I always like to get out quickly in the morning to fill it before the squirrels start arriving. Birds are in and out of the back yard all day long, but the squirrels are usually only around in the morning and evening. I hate the thought of them braving the nearby streets, dogs, hawks, and other hazards to get here only to find feeder empty.

So, this morning I made my way out there early to take care of them. Three of them had beat me to it though. They sat on the fence staring at me while I made my way gently to the shed, trying hard not to scare them off. I had to open a new bag of sunflower seeds and that made a bit of noise. A black squirrel I had never seen before dove into the trumpet vine, but the other two didn't move. I finally managed to fill the seed bowl and put the bag of seeds back in the shed. I closed the shed and turned around.

The black squirrel had come out of the trumpet vine and was sitting on the part of the fence nearest me watching me very closely. I noticed that she had a lot of scarring on one of her rear legs, front shoulders and forehead. She also had only half a tail... My first thought was to wonder if it was Sammy. I suppose it probably wasn't, but Sammy had been headed into a dark phase last winter when she dropped out of sight. The scar tissue could explain why she hasn't been around. I don't know, it probably wasn't her, I just can't keep hoping she is still alive out there somewhere.

In the mean time, one of the other squirrels had wasted no time making its way down off the fence and was munching seeds as fast as he could. The other squirrels were more cautious but eventually made their way down to the food bowl while I stood there.

The crowning moment (unless that really was Sammy) was when, with squirrels at my feet, I looked up for a moment, and there, not three feet from me was a hummingbird! :) He was looking right at me as if to say, "My feeder needs filling too!" Of course I went right inside and filled it up, and got it back out there as quickly as I could. Fortunately by this time the squirrels were figuring out that the seeds were tasty and it wasn't worth scampering off just because I came outside.

The really funny bit happened after I came back inside. I looked out the window to see how everyone was doing, and one of the squirrles had high tailed it to the top of the tallest sunflower. He sat there swaying slightly looking around.

I thought he had done it to get to the sunflower seeds since by this time the feeder was getting crowded, but his real goal was to check out what the hummingbird feeder was. He climbed back down the sunflower, across the the black hanger to where the feeder was took a quick sniff and raced back up to the top. He took a flying leap across to the trumpet vine, which in a bungee jumping like manuver dipped way down and swung him back up.

This is a picture of the black squirrel a little later in the morning.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Flowers of Summer

If one is going to discuss the flowers of summer, I suppose the best place to start is sunflowers. I planted twelve "Mammoth" sunflower seeds this spring, but only one of them seems to have made it. I have about five others that I allowed to grow, but they are most certainly ones my helpful squirrel friends planted for me.

One such plant had at least 16 blooms on it!

These poor giants have had a rough season, we had some 1/2 inch hail several weeks ago which left large holes in the leaves.

The squirrels planted this little sunflower.

My coneflowers are back, and seem to be doing very well this year. :)

I have even had a surprise this summer. My succulents have begun blooming!

Friday, July 15, 2005


I just saw a titmouse in the backyard! When we lived in Georgia we had tons of these at our feeder, but I have seen hardly any since moving to Maryland.