After all the hard work planting flowers, everything has been starting to look really good around the garden, but lately something fishy has been goin' on. Each morning one or two more large leaves of the nasturtium plants have been found lying beside the spindly stock, now having to regenerate more leaves. Nothing eaten, simply chewed off. Those mice are at it again!
Meanwhile, Gunner, our dominant little Top Gun hummingbird has been on fierce patrol. He watches from morning until night, ready to spring into action. Occasionally his anger will be provoked by any other bird that merely moves or chirps in the wrong fashion.
So after noticing our hard work being chewed off and discarded for no reason, action needed to be taken. I pulled out the mouse traps! No one messes with my plants, and no one messes with a hummingbird flower. For those that are unaware of my specialty skills, they include catching mice like nobody's business, and making hot dog buns fresh from scratch. How are these two things related, you might ask? I was forced to sacrifice a small piece of hot dog bun for the mousetraps, and that doesn't make me very happy! So, I lined up three snapping mousetraps, side by side. I broke that scrumptious hot dog bun morsel into three even pieces, and forced each moist little morsel into the little claw on the trigger of the mousetrap. For those that have a mouse problem, NOTHING works better for catching mice than fresh or stale bread that's been moistened with a few drops of water. Don't mess around with cheese or peanut butter, or anything else, JUST BREAD! It works like nothing else! Anyways, back to my anger issues. I had three traps lined up and loaded with fresh bread, and I began the delicate process of setting the triggers, kinda like doing open heart surgery. My anger for those mice was high level, as were my nerves, as I performed the procedure of setting hair trigger traps. One trap complete! Two traps complete, and only one to go. My hands began to shake, and the sweat ran down my brow. " Hold it together man, you only have one remaining"! With my hands shaking and my nerves twitchy, I loaded up the spring on the final trap, ready to set the trigger. It was then that an intruding hummingbird entered into Gunner's airspace. Now, if you've ever heard two hummingbirds at high speed change direction really quickly, it's like a powerful whistle or screech of a jet at mach speed. So as I was setting the trigger on the trap, with ultra sensitive nerves, Gunner and the intruder performed the high tech maneuver within inches of my head! That whistle from their quivering feathers screeched pass me so fast, and with such a piercing whistle, that I tensed up with the loaded trap in my hand, and two loaded right next to it. It's not like my life passed before my eyes, but it was like a vision of missing digits did. My wife laughed, while I needed some serious time to wind down. I'm happy to say that all my fingers remain intact, and Gunner has been warned of his fancy air maneuvers.
Image is of Gunner, our adult male Ruby-throat hummingbird keeping guard over his garden and territory.
N.E. of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. June 20, 2020.
It was a morning following a night time rain. Fragrance filled the air, and song filled the garden. Although I've had countless mornings in the garden that were beyond wonderful, this one was indescribable, but I'll try. There were about 25 species of birds, some in multiple pairs, that packed the garden, each one trying to outdo the other, that all together created chorus of magnificence. My senses of smell, sight and sound were in overload. The winds were calm, so every chirp, squeak and melody echoed throughout the garden, while every blooming lilac flower filled the air. Every blade of grass held glistening little diamonds of raindrops, and every living thing in our garden was glad to be alive. I sat there with the biggest smile, knowing that if this was the very last morning I'd encounter, it would be worth it. Not to be outdone by the others, little Gunner put on the show that would top it off with greatness. After a quick splash in the fountain, he bounced from leaf to leaf among the Delphiniums, to soak up and splash about in every cupped Delphinium leaf that held some puddled rain. Although I sat a distance from him, I managed to see it all play out.
June 12th, 2020. Northeast of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Image - adult male Ruby throat hummingbird
For those of you who take a lot of pictures, you can understand just how difficult it is to get the perfect capture. The location, background, the way your subject is standing, how the light reflects off the subject, are all important. But to get every piece right at the same time, can take thousands of attempts before you get it right, or until that opportunity presents itself. With the last several years of Ziggy, I tried endlessly to get the perfect capture, and although he gave me so many opportunities, there were very few that were perfect. This new male, "Top Gun", named by a friend, was shortened to "Gunner", also named by a friend, is one awesome little bird. His personality, quirks, and character closely resemble Ziggy, but with a few differences. He sits in various locations around the garden, oftentimes very close to us. We can be working below him while he watches guard from 15 feet overhead. We have learned his perches, and preferences, and he rarely leaves the yard. He's become the new owner that guards from intruders. He sits, stretches, and poses, and gives me unlimited photo opportunities, and even though the possibilities are endless, it's still difficult to get the perfect capture. This is one where he's not only sitting, but with the body sideways while his head facing me, with a perfect light reflection, while his wings are twisted to the side during a stretch, and his tail is fanned out. It's one of the better captures that I've managed to get over the years. I could have hundreds of thousands of pictures of him sitting in the trees looking great, but this one is for the wall.
Male Ruby-throat hummingbird, north east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. June 5th, 2020.