Monday, June 7, 2010

New Visitors

At the beginning of this growing adventure, I was skeptical that I'd be able to do much to broaden the animal community calling my garden home. But this spring has shown me a surprising variety of visitors and new residents.

The bees, of course, are here and thriving. The hives are so happy and clearly thriving. The east hive is up to four supers now. The west hive is about to have a fourth added. I've seen at least a half dozen other species of insect pollinators (wasps, other bees, etc.0 as well.

The bees have attracted a couple of scrub jays who zoom in to snatch a few bees for a snack each day. I know beekeepers who make an effort to shield hives from marauding birds, but watching these jays I find it hard to believe they make much of a dent and find it much more encouraging that a small foodchain has arisen around the beehives. In addition to the jays, a rich community of detritus feeders clean up the bee corpses which typically appear just off the front porch of the hives each spring.

An abundance of helpful garter snakes has turned up this year too. They're out hunting bugs and whatnot and love the woodpiles and tall grassy areas left around the garden at various spots.

My six new chickens, though hardly volunteers, are also much to my dismay leaping their coop bounds and making their presence in the garden obvious. They scratch too much for my tastes, but also wreak havoc on the slug population which has afflicted my strawberries this year.

Frogs this season were present, but seemed more subdued than in previous years. I don't know why.

A deer even ventured in the other day....quite a rare sighting. She moved gracefully through the garden around dawn one day last week. I have never seen a deer in this part of town before.

And, lastly, though I do not like them much at all and make mildly murderous efforts to control them, rats seemed to make a particularly strong play for my compost piles earlier this year. When their numbers began to offend my sense of balance, I culled them out with a BB gun and let a couple of neighborhood cats take care of the remainder. I'm not a good shot anymore, but think that my efforts at least allowed the cats to regain the upper hand. Cats and rats also make for a little bit of a food chain.

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