Monday, May 31, 2010

Latest in Berries

The current Berry-Go-Round plant carnival is now posted at Greg Laden's blog. Thanks, Greg, for a great job assembling some very intriguing plant posts—I look forward to applying more of a K-strategy to them soon! We appreciate your squeezing in the post below, on our long-awaited wisteria blossoms.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Green Scene, and a Spring Surprise

Our season of green has arrived in full force, and greatly appreciated in part because it's so brief! For a day or two this week (especially Friday and yesterday morning when temperatures suddenly soared to 92 and 94F, or about 35C), it seemed like we were going to plunge straight from May into the middle of July. Clouds, a moderate wind, and a 20-degree drop into seasonable 70s yesterday afternoon salvaged a few more days in which to relish this shortest season.

As you may recall, we've been nurturing an unusual (for Colorado) vine here these last few decades, and it has, in other even-numbered years of recent memory, attempted to bloom. Third time's the charm, they say.

This year's promises, a vine extravagantly covered in buds, did not disappoint. And thus, after nigh 30 years spreading its tendrils and withes 'cross trellis and soffit, we have, for once, Wisteria.

I was relieved when the leaves began to catch up with the flowers, as the latter looked forlorn against a backdrop only of brown tangled branches. But now, ahhh...

wis closeup

No doubts about family here! Note, to the right, the stamens peeking from within the keel as the banner stands guard.*

Ummm... wish I could post the fragrance for you too!

Need a refresher on the Fabaceae? Courtesy Wikipedia, more details on this very flower, Wisteria sinensis.

Addendum: Since singing the praises of this critter far and wide, I've learned there are others in Colorado. But they're coddled in greenhouses and nurseries, or in town where there's ample water and shelter, not out here in the foothills, trying to make do on what nature offers and wracked by 50 mph winds. (In case you were wondering why it took so long to bloom! And yes, I'll try to coddle a bit more henceforth.)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Collection of Carnivals; Bird Update

It's a feast indeed for fans of natural history out there this month. As the world wakes, so does the nature blogosphere.

The notable 50th edition of Circus of the Spineless is recently up at Arthropoda, and Mike does a great job. His site is new to me, I found myself exploring more thoroughly, and learned a lot! Check out his "Favorite Posts" tab for starters.

The Geek in Question (TGIQ) from Fall To Climb is hosting two of the newer blog carnivals this month. TGIQ tackles herpetology with House of Herps #5: Slime Poetry, an excellent edition as critters emerge for spring. I had to go there to see scales; we've yet to encounter any here (though others have in town).

Next, head over to An Inordinate Fondness, to experience The Shining and learn why TGIQ is so taken with beetlemania.

Nature's Whispers is host for this month's Festival of Trees (#47). Jasmine brings on a multimedia Beltane extravaganza, with art, poetry, video, and much more. Do scroll down to celebrate May Day with the feature film: dancing the Maypole in Glastonbury (and what better place!)...

And that brings us to the 27th edition of Berry Go Round, by Mary over at Neotropical Savanna; a great spot to get your fix of spring wildflowers, like Trilliums, also emerging from hibernation. BGR is itself springing to new life, after a great email discussion, and will carry on with Mary and Sarcozona (of Gravity's Rainbow) as ringleaders.

And Now, Closer to Home

Today: We're ignoring, for the most part, the half-inch of snow this morning. It is May 7th, after all. (I did take the teakettle out to defrost the openings on the hummingbird feeder.) Darling Husband yelled "Come quick!" to make sure I got to see the first Bullock's Oriole of the season. He spotted a pair in the ash tree; I saw only the male.

Yesterday: A drab brown bird puzzled me yesterday, hiding behind the trunk as soon as I brought out the binocs. No distinguishing features whatsoever. Page by page through the bird book this a.m. suggests she could only be a Brown-headed Cowbird (my first!). No wonder she didn't want to be spotted!

The first Western Kingbird of the season perched on the far fence yesterday. DH also reports a male Lesser Goldfinch in seasonal plumage a few days ago.

Last week: The Mourning Doves are back, of course, and billing and cooing like lovebirds. But last week, something different: a lone Ring-necked (aka Collared) Dove. I thought it was an escapee; Bee Lady says they're increasing in our area.

Oh–and Grackles. Since when do we have grackles? They're learning to use the sunflower feeder.

The hummingbirds have been around for weeks, disappearing when it snows, and reappearing. I had three fighting over the feeders a couple weeks ago, until it snowed. Now I see the little hummers occasionally, but not in numbers. Soon, though, they'll be here in force.

More spring to be reported here soon!