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Grouse Hollow Journal

Grouse Hollow Journal: Birds of all sorts visit the Koelkers

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When we were growing up, there was nothing better for lunch than a peanut butter and grape jelly on white bread sandwich. I still enjoy that—as a treat and with sugar free jelly of course and of course on whole wheat or multigrain bread of some kind. That said, the jelly here seems to have gone to the birds.

Ellen treats her Baltimore orioles to the only grape jelly we have here now. We have two pairs that are regulars. They compete for the hummingbird feeder with some of the half-a-dozen hummers out here, too. The orioles sometimes gang up on a red headed woodpecker that likes the jelly too. There are house finches and sparrows and an occasional blue jay that must be tired of what it can find in the woods. Several rose breasted grosbeaks and a number of red-winged blackbirds have been frequenting the free lunch as well.

There are two pairs of mourning doves that keep hoping upon hope that there will be more sunflower seeds in the feeder sometime soon—there will be but not just now. We have a few gold finches that frequent the finch feeder, but not like some years. In the garage rafters, some barn swallows have nests with half-a-dozen little ones popping up hungry mouths whenever we make any noise nearby. There was one deceased baby swallow on the patio yesterday morning. I suspect that the unsub could be OC who picked some low hanging fruit after one fell out of the nest. There was a mole and a vole on the cement since Tony left us for that great mouse-filled field in the sky a couple weeks ago, so OC is earning her keep. I saw a wild turkey hen with some chicken-sized poults tagging erratically along the edge of a newly baled hayfield on my morning walk. (Somehow Bo missed that and trotted on across the road.) I saw one blue bird gliding over the cleared field. Oh, and we have at least four pairs of wrens nesting in the wren houses around our house, singing their hearts out all day.

El and I have picked over a dozen quarts of black raspberries right around the house. We used to have to cover the raspberries to ward off the birds, but not so much now. The biggest issue is the Japanese beetles chewing up everything in sight and maybe ground bees. I thought I found a really nice, easy picking batch of black berries the other day until I was suddenly surrounded by ground bees. They didn’t attack and I tried getting a few more berries in my pail when one ambitious xlocopa—fancy name for stinging bees with attitude—decided it had enough of me. I was able to pull out slowly enough so that I only got stung by the enforcer bee on the back of my right hand. No big deal and good fortune, right? Nope. The thumb side and back of my hand swelled up almost double by the next morning. I couldn’t bend my fingers without stretching. It really hurt and itched—still does. The swelling came down in a few days, but the itching is driving me crazy—a short trip albeit, but still . . . One of these days, I will have to clear that spot with the big John Deere and bush hog and be ready to make war on those ground bees before they get someone else or me again.

Until next time, get out—we got half-an-inch of rain the other night and we have been getting a little rain right along, including an overnight shower of over an inch last week. The grass is growing, but my straw bale garden is a bust. We may get a few tomatoes, but I am not much of a gardener this summer, I guess. Fortunately for us, there are plenty who are have plenty to share. Enjoy.


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