Cedar Waxwings, Bombycilla cedrorum, gather in a circle at the bath and eagerly await to hear from Dear Leader.
Dear Leader arrives and takes the podium, followers bow.
Fellow Waxwings listen raptly to Dear Leader’s tweets, cheeps, chirps: So let it be tweeted, so let it be done.
Are the waxwings organizing something nefarious, or is Dear Leader simply imparting directions for the water feature visit? Considering the amount of waxwing poop the hordes of beautiful birds leave behind, the two goals might be the same.
If nothing else, I’m impressed with his determination.
But balance and agility of this hungry squirrel are admirable, as well.
Squirrels, like many birds, enjoy peanuts and will go to great, stretchy lengths for their fill. I don’t mind their eating the peanuts that I intend for birds, except when one of these rascally rodents plants its fuzzy butt on the feeder and gobbles up the goods. Last summer, I discovered the use of hot pepper sauce to mix into the peanuts. Birds don’t taste pepper sauce, but squirrels steer clear of the fiery mix. The pepper sauce is so hot, that I wear gloves as I mix the blistery stuff with the peanuts and I stand as far away as possible, turning my head and holding my breath I wash out the container that I use for the mixture. The cloud of pepper sauce is remarkably cough-inducing. I can’t even fathom what it would be like if I got some of it in my eyes.
I don’t want to think about that.
During the season of squirrels-loving-peanuts (now until mid-summer) I do toss out handful of peanuts on the ground for the squirrels, I’m not a monster, after all. I like squirrels, I’m (mostly) glad they’re in my garden. I know they benefit from the peanuts, especially the mommy squirrels, and I’m happy for them to nosh the fat-laden protein. That said, I don’t want them bullying the birds at the feeder. So, hot sauce it is.
This acrobatic feat, this stretch for the treat, is the sign I need to rev up the pepper sauce with peanuts concoction. It’s another sign of spring to come.
A single mushroom emerged recently from a bed of winter-evergreen Yarrow, Achillea millefolium. For those who subscribe to the supernatural, this one individual, minus a crew of encircled colleagues, might disappoint. With just this one, there is little hope (or dread) of otherworldly happenings.
For myself, the ‘shroom was serendipitous. I don’t often see mushrooms in my garden and typically, they appear in warmer, muggier times of year, not in cold, dry January. That being said, it hasn’t been all that cold this January and with some added damp-to-wet stuff, I guess a mushroom popping-up its spongy self from the ground shouldn’t be too surprising.
I think this particular fairy rest-stop is a Deer mushroom, Genus Pluteus. which is common throughout North America. According to iNaturalist, this mushroom grows on roots and the roots of Yarrow might make a substantial foundation for a mushroom.