Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday August 5th

The rains have continued, not as badly as the Friday Storm but a half an inch here and three-quarters of an inch there, on top of the already saturated ground, makes for even more work. We haven't had to water the garden in more than a week, a blessing I suppose given the state of our drought. But leaks in the house and on the porch, mosquitoes appearing in swarms and horses standing in mud makes one long with some small portion of guilt for the earlier part of the year when all we had was sand.

Some good pickings this week though with plenty of tomatoes both large and small and a few eggplants. As always, the photos are almost as good as the eating -

The big story of the week though concerns Hummingbirds who have now arrived in all their jewel-like splendor to spend their time fattening up for the long trip south. You often wonder how they accomplish laying on the pounds since they seems to spend more time fighting than eating. Some young male will move in, claim the feeders for himself for a couple of days only to see himself overthrown when so many cousins show up that he cannot defend everything. Then we have a couple of days of peaceful coexistence until the next bully-boy shows up on the scene and starts the cycle again.

We have four species that hang around in August. Most common is the Black-chinned which nests around our place. Next is the Broad-tailed, the red-throated western analog of the well known Ruby-throated. The Broad-tailed nests here in New Mexico, but only at higher elevations, and we see them both in the spring and fall on their way to and from. The Rufous Hummingbird is the chief bully, stopping by on his journey south from more northern climes and lastly we have the Calliope, North America's smallest bird and also a northern breeder. We are lucky to see one or two of them annually and their appearance is always a cause for a celebration. Added into those four types is a giant admixture of females, immatures and the emblematic males and you end up with a giant swarming mess that's difficult to sort out as they dive and climb and fight their way to a perch. 

This year, we've had a couple of lucky moments when birds chose to light on a tomato cage mere feet from where we sit and observe. One male Calliope who sat and preened and spread his lovely throat feathers for our viewing enjoyment. And one small immature that showed a dark patch on the side of its head, first thought to be feathers but identified as a wound when its photo was enlarged on the computer.

These few weeks turn out every year to be the true peak of our gardening, between the food coming off the vine, the visit of the Hummingbirds and the slightly cooler nights that allow us to sit out there as the sun goes down, enjoying both.

Click on the photos for a larger view

Immature male Rufous
Immature male Rufous
Female Black-chinned

Male Broad-tailed

Male Rufous

Wounded female Calliope

Male Black-chinned

Male Calliope

Male Calliope

Male Calliope

1 comment:

  1. Hey Terry,
    I love the beautiful pictures and the evocative description of Corrales! Those tomatoes look absolutely yummy and the hummingbirds are resplendent! Inspirational! Keep up the fabulous work.