May Days

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May.

~Smokey Robinson

May is chasing April as my favorite month of the year…and it’s a close race. Though we have been really busy here, things are happening that keep bringing my attention back to the marvels of the natural world right here in our own backyard (we are very lucky to have such a nice “backyard”). Here is a smorgasbord of highlights from the past week.

The birds have been amazing…so many new arrivals as well as long-time residents making appearances or singing from the treetops. One of my favorites is the stunningly beautiful male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. They usually pass through for a couple of weeks every spring and fall during their migration. They were about a week late this spring, but now a few (the past couple of years we have had many more it seems) are at the sunflower feeders every day.

-Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak (click photos to enlarge)

My usual morning coffee chair looks out into the front yard and there always seems to be some activity that catches my eye. Friday morning the resident Red-shouldered Hawk landed in our Pinxter Azalea to watch over one of the water gardens, no doubt hoping for a frog breakfast. The hawk eyed the pond for about 40 minutes but never dove in to secure a meal, but at least I enjoyed watching it patiently survey the scene.

-Red-shouldered Hawk intently watching the area around one of the wildlife pools

Since our BugFest event last September, I have had a few moth pupae in a cage waiting for something to emerge months later. So far, there has been one small moth, several Tachinid flies (parasitoids of various butterflies and moths), and this jewel that emerged yesterday, a gorgeous Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth.

-Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth being released after it emerged yesterday

A human highlight has been the completion of a new seating arrangement for our fire ring. After going through two sets of huge tree trunk seats over the past several years, I decided to come up with another solution (when the Pileated Woodpecker starts hammering at your fire ring seats, you know its time to change them). Melissa spotted an interesting alternative online when a neighbor posted photos of their home for sale…they had used gabion cages (wire mesh cages filled with rocks) for the legs of their outdoor benches. Well, if there is one thing we have plenty of on our property, it’s rocks. A trip to the local farm store ended up with some goat fencing and hog rings and after a lot of work on some old boards found in my folks’ barn, we have some new seats (and after a lot of rock gathering of course). I must say, they are challenging my by-the-window chair as a favorite morning coffee spot. Wherever you are, be sure to get out and enjoy these beautiful days of May.

-The new fire ring benches with gabion cages for legs

18 thoughts on “May Days

  1. Great photos Mike. We’ve got Eastern Phoebes nesting over a window and on a beam, front and back. We don’t have to go very far to see birds this year. 🥴

  2. The new benches are delightful!! We’ve noticed rocks in wire cages across the country from retaining walls to various types of benches. What a nice look! I just returned from SC and had a great experience at the Audubon Newhall Preserve. I recorded 19 different birds in 20 minutes!

    • Thanks, Cathy. We really like the look of the gabion bench legs (and they are very sturdy and we don’t have to worry about them decaying). That is an impressive number of birds at the preserve!

  3. We’re in Fearrington Village and have an enclosed front courtyard and a bird feeder station. My wife and I have seen a large Brown Thrasher that seems gigantic compared to our usual tiny guests.

  4. What a wonderful idea! We were looking into doing some seating around our fire ring and this looks perfect and doable.Thanks for the idea.

    • Thanks, Ulana. It really isn’t too hard. You need the wire mesh (heavy gauge goat fencing is what I used), some hog rings and the associated pliers (for fastening the wire sides) a bolt cutter for making the right size panels, and some flexible metal straps with holes for fastening the seats to the top of the cage (I found these in the plumbing pipe section of a hardware store). And, of course, rocks. You can also buy various sizes of the gabion cages at various locations online (but more expensive, of course).

  5. Personally I like to have Pileateds visiting my fire ring 😉
    But I do worry about a guest discovering a horde of Carpenter Ants streaming out around their feet! Wonderful blog. Thanks

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