Donna’s Garden, Early April

by Donna Lewis

As promised, I am taking photos of my pollinator garden every month or so.

The “Uri” storm or as I called it “The Arctic Beast” pretty much took a terrible toll on the garden. I was very upset about it. I understand that nature has its own way.

Nothing could stop the verbena!

The garden, along with so many animals and plants could not stand 10 days of freezing weather.    Many were lost to it. 

I and many others put out tons of extra bird seed. I know it helped some of the birds. I tried to keep water for them also. You have to do what you can.

Plants are returning! And there’s water for the birds.

So for the last couple of weeks, I have been trimming and cutting back all the dead plants in the garden. I’m using lots of love and TLC to bring it back for all the bees, birds, and butterflies that come to it. It has been a slow process.

It’s nice to see something green again.

But the very reason we try to get people to plant native plants is that they are tough and hard to kill. I am seeing green leaves and little buds everywhere. It makes me happy to see it and know that nature is very resilient. 

Looking healthy!

The monarchs are still coming through now. I hope I will have something blooming soon for them.   As Master Naturalists, we never give up trying to save our beautiful planet filled with amazing animals and a green paradise of plants.

As my favorite saying goes…

…we were not born to do everything,  but to do something.

California Dreaming

by Donna Lewis

I was just going to show the monthly progress of my pollinator garden when the artic blast occurred. It was horrible. One of the things I dislike the most is COLD weather!  It ruined the garden progress, along with our water well.

The damage to our wildlife friends was severe. Many birds did not make it through the freezing temperatures. That was very sad for me. I put out ten times the bird seed that I normally use. I hope it helped some of the birds make it through. Nature can be swift and harsh when it wants to, then forgiving and magical the very next day. 

I guess it’s my age, but I always think of certain songs that seem to fit the moment and the mood. When the cold weather was on its third day or so, my mind went to “California Dreaming on such a winter’s day… ”   Then when the cold was fading away I thought of John Lennon’s  “Here comes the sun.”

Here are a few photos taken during the event.

I hope the photos I take next month are more cheerful.

Do what you can do, where you are.

Hummers Here in Milam County Now

by Donna Lewis

I have to say that I have never had any species of hummingbirds here at my house in Milam County during December, January, or February.

So why now? I have really thought about it and there are several possible  reasons, but I will leave that up to the biologists to tell us. I know they are seeing this also and working on the answers.

So, to get to the real news…I have about four to five hummers that have been here for months. I finally got a shot at one, and I think it’s a Rufous hummingbird.

Rufous hummingbird?

If any of you think differently, by all means tell me.  It is very feeder aggressive and will not allow the others to even come near the feeder.

I did read that it is more temperature hardy than many other hummingbirds. It will need that shortly!

This small little bird has a copper coloring underpart and its sides are copper also.

Besides it, we have about 3 or 4 what I think are Black-chin juveniles or females. Once again I have not been able to get a good photo of them, but here’s a try.

Black-chinned hummingbird?

I have talked to several other birders in the area and they also have some hummers they have never seen here at this time of the year.

It pays to be observant.

So with some very severe weather soon to be upon us, here are a few tips.

  • This is when a little extra bird seed will assist them.  There are not many insects out when it’s cold.
  • Adding suet near your feeders will help with the fat that helps birds stay warmer.
  • And last but not least water. You may have to bust some ice up for them.

All these actions are for the big birds.

For the hummers, you need to bring their feeders in at dusk and return them at dawn.  They will freeze when it’s really cold.

The birds thank you.

Donna Lewis

Red-eared Sliders: Trachemys

by Donna Lewis

If you have ever tried to photograph our common pond turtle the, Red-eared Slider, you know how hard it is. The minute they see you, hear you, or even get a vibration, they jump into the water.  So you never really get a good look at them up close.

It took days for me to sneak up on these guys down at our pond. 

I think I hear Donna! Get ready to jump!

I also think my local crows call out to them that I am coming..

Red-eared sliders like muddy bottoms and slow moving water. These are the turtles that pet stores used to sell a lot of, which is not a happy thing for the turtle. They are wild and need to be out somewhere in a pond, in my opinion.

I built a turtle dock a few years ago for them to bask on. Rotten trees tend to eventually go down into the pond, filling it up with debris.  As long as they can climb up onto the dock they are happy.

Always nice to see more nature in our own area.

Pied Piper of Gophers

by Donna Lewis

Yesterday, I was outside walking around picking up debris from our recent snow and ice storm, when I felt something following me. I looked down, and this really big Pocket Gopher was creeping along about a foot behind me. I stopped, it stopped. I started walking again, and so did it. It didn’t look injured so I could not figure out why it was out of the ground.

I think Donna has some food.

I tried to gently herd it back to a protected area, but it just kept by me. My dogs were in the house, or it would have really been in danger.

This went on for about 30 minutes, until I finally moved it under a huge pile of limbs from the storm. It went under and I did not see it come out again.

This is my GOOD side!

Maybe he knew I wouldn’t hurt him??? This is the second time this year this has happened.    If I could just get them to follow me out of my garden, I would really have some nature power…

Lucky for me I had my camera on the porch so I got a great  photo of him.

Goodbye my little friend…