Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Daisies and Vireo

We have had a couple of sunny days so I went up to our back pasture, the one that usually has donkeys on it.

Field of Ox-Eye Daisies (June 13, 2009)

No donkeys but a field of daisies--acres of them have sprung up thanks to all the rain lately.

The Ox-Eye Daisy is not native and common in fields and roadsides. Like other composites, the center is composed of many small flowers, producing many seeds later.

Each little flower must have a dab of nectar for this bee or fly.

Here's another bee I don't know. I looked but there were no honeybees on these flowers. I have seen my bees on Catawba trees down the road but that's it--not much nectar collecting going on now.

A few days later, I spotted two nests in the woods.

This photo of a small nest (about 3-4 inches in diameter) was taken from below so I wasn't sure if it was occupied.

A Red-Eyed Vireo was sitting on her eggs in this nest--not quite as neat as the previous one but similar with spider webbing and some lichens holding it together. I was able to identify the bird by first cropping the photo and consulting Peterson's Eastern Birds' Nests field guide and my bird field guide. I heard the song and saw the bird last year in about the same area. The nest also was where the field guide predicted--in a small hickory tree about 10 feet from the ground.

I confirmed the red eye by cropping one photo more and increasing the color saturation to bring the red out.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mushrooms and Ovenbird


Orange Jelly Fungi (May 30, 2009)

We received 10 inches of rain in May which has made the woods very damp---perfect for mushrooms. I found this orange jelly several times in the winter but never as vibrant as this. With the woods so green and dark from the clouds, the orange color really stood out.

Shelf Fungi (May 30, 2009)

This shelf mushroom which I cannot identify is probably the same one I see later in the summer but then it is beige color.

This closer view shows just how fresh the mushroom is. Wonder if it's edible?

Ovenbird (May 30, 2009)

On the same walk, I spotted an ovenbird who appeared to be trying to get me away from its nest. I looked for it--supposed to look like an oven on the ground. I gave up after a little while, seeing how upset she was. The photo is a little blurred--she was going quickly from branch to branch.

I appreciate any corrections on the identifications.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Blackberry Bees

Blackberry Flowers with Honey Bee (May 21, 2009)

I have been keeping notes on where my honey bees forage. I found a few of them at a time on my blackberry patch in the yard. I noticed the bees stay a long time--maybe a minute--on a flower. I wondered if that is how they are picking up the varroa mites.

Black Bees on Blackberry Blossoms (May 21, 2009)

On the blackberries, honey bees forage right along side the native bees which outnumber them by about 10:1 most times I have observed. These black bees are about the size of the honey bees. Like the other native bees, they forage quickly. For the entomologists, please identify these for me.

Carpenter Bee on Blackberry (May 21, 2009)

The large Carpenter Bee seems to pollinate every flower in my yard. About this time, I noticed this and other native bees on my Rhododendron shrubs but no honey bees. Then, I read several accounts that the blossoms of the Catawba Rhododendron blossom have toxic nectar so I was glad they didn't forage on them.

Other Native Bees (May 21, 2009)

These unknown bees were also prolific on the blackberries, flying quickly from flower to flower. The small one is about the size of a sweat bee while the larger one is about the size of a honey bee only slimmer (or is it a wasp?).

Today, I see that there's a berry growing where each flower was so these pollinators were quite effective!

I found a great slide presentation "Native Bee Pollinators" given recently by Nancy Adamson of Virginia Tech. Gardeners and farmers alike will find good tips on pollinating their crops.

The presentation made me quite aware of where the native bees are nesting in my yard. The other day, I was putting up a trellis and noticed that the black bees shown in the the second photograph were flying in and out under a big rock at the edge of the flower bed. I didn't look under the rock but guess that's where they're living.

Bumble bees are nesting in my clay birdhouse on the front porch. It's usually occupied by Carolina Wrens but they are nesting on the other side of the porch in an A-frame birdhouse. To make a good nesting site for bumble bees you can use an empty clay flower pot--on its side with the flower end covered so that the bees will use the small hole in the bottom as an entrance.