Hide and Seek

PearTree2_2014May11It was a gentle sunrise this morning. The clouds turned a soft pink and blue gray as the sun rose. The air coming through the open kitchen window was cool. The overnight temperatures were in the mid 40s. Last week’s heat was driven away by the storms. One after another the storms passed through from Thursday to Monday. The sun was playing hide and seek behind the clouds and the rain all weekend. It would be sunny for a while and then the sky would darken and let loose buckets of water.

I set the alarm for an early hour on Saturday morning. I wanted to visit the Shade Garden at the Arboretum at sunrise. I forgot when the alarm went off why I had set it so early, turned it off, and went back to sleep for an hour. I decided to drive over on Saturday morning even though I had missed the sunrise. When I was one third of the way there, it started to rain. I turned around and came home. Saturday became chore day and the visit was postponed until Sunday morning. I tried twice on Sunday morning, but the rain interrupted both attempts. Looking out of the window as the dark clouds left once again on Sunday afternoon, I wondered if it would be foolish to try a fourth time. Persistence was rewarded. It was a pleasant and relaxing visit.

The sky was dark again when I arrived shortly before 3 pm.

Storm clouds, May 11, 2014, "Hide and Seek." The sky was filled with storm clouds when I arrived at the Arboretum at 3 pm.There were fast moving low dark clouds and slow moving high light ones. I parked in the gravel lot across from the entrance and retrieved my backpack and my camera from the trunk. I stayed on the side of the Arboretum closest to my car in case I had to make a run for cover. I need to add a rain poncho to the supplies in my backpack. The crabapple tree whose flowers were featured in the last post grows near the Shade Garden on the eastern side just north of the entrance. The flowers were almost all gone on that tree, but the neighboring crabapple trees were in full bloom. I admired the trees and walked in the Shade Garden.

I was thinking about walking on the woodland paths. Instead, I walked on the path inside the Arboretum that goes south from the entrance. I heard a bird call that I remembered from the last visit. I knew it belonged to a woodpecker. I saw the woodpecker last time, but it flew away as I approached. This time, I saw a male and a female Red-bellied Woodpecker. The male flew away and landed on the top of a very tall tree some distance away. The female made her way around a tree near enough that I could take a few photos of her.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker at the Iowa Arboretum, May 11, 2014, "Hide and Seek."

A female Red-bellied Woodpecker. The absence of red on the top of her head tells me she is a female.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker at the Iowa Arboretum, May 11, 2014, "Hide and Seek."

A female Red-bellied Woodpecker. In the photo on the far right, she is just below the branches and headed around to the back of the tree.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker at the Iowa Arboretum, May 11, 2014, "Hide and Seek."

A female Red-bellied Woodpecker.

A short distance past the tree with the Red-bellied Woodpecker, there was a pear tree still in bloom. It was a different pear tree than the one shown in the post “A Small Victory.”

A pear tree at the Iowa Arboretum, May 11, 2014, "Hide and Seek."

A pear tree in bloom.

The storm clouds had left while I was watching the woodpecker. There was sunlight on the grass behind the pear tree and on the pear tree blossoms. Looking at the flowers, I caught a glimpse of a hummingbird. She was moving quickly from blossom to blossom. I only managed to take one photo of her. She is in the upper left corner. The only hummingbird I found in the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America with a range that includes Iowa is the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. It is the male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird that has the red patch on its throat. She looked gray, but she was moving so fast that I could have missed the green on her back and her wings.

A Hummingbird in a pear tree at the Iowa Arboretum, May 11, 2014, "Hide and Seek."

A female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird in a pear tree.

Standing near the tree, the buzzing sound of a hundred or more bees was loud. Looking up, I spotted a bird that I hadn’t seen before. There were two more birds nearby concealed in the branches, leaves and flowers of the pear tree. If you would like help finding them in the photo below, look here. I noticed the bright yellow on the end of the bird’s tail first and then the small stripe of red on its wing.

Cedar Waxwings in a pear tree at the Iowa Arboretum, May 11, 2014, "Hide and Seek."

Cedar Waxwings in a pear tree.

Eventually, I found one I could see more clearly.

A Cedar Waxwing in a pear tree at the Iowa Arboretum, May 11, 2014, "Hide and Seek."

A Cedar Waxwing in a pear tree.

A Cedar Waxwing in a pear tree at the Iowa Arboretum, May 11, 2014, "Hide and Seek."

A Cedar Waxwing in a pear tree.

A Cedar Waxwing in a pear tree at the Iowa Arboretum, May 11, 2014, "Hide and Seek." What is he eating?

A Cedar Waxwing in a pear tree. What is he eating?

As I watched them, I was wondering what they were eating. When I returned home, I looked through the book until I found their picture. They were Cedar Waxwings. The book says they eat berries and insects. In the last set of photos, the bird was looking around and then he ate something. What was it? The three pictures were taken one right after another and there were no pear blossoms close to the bird. Did he eat a bee or were there other flying insects that I didn’t see?

It was time to return home. The sky was bright blue and I didn’t want to leave. I will be back. There is more exploring to be done. I still want to visit the Shade Garden at sunrise. I might do that this weekend.

Sunny skies, May 11, 2014, "Hide and Seek." When I left the Arboretum at 5 pm, the storm clouds had moved on.Take care and thanks for reading.

Sarah

 

 

About Sarah

nature, outdoor, and health enthusiast, book reader, and runner
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5 Responses to Hide and Seek

  1. Shady_Grady says:

    The woodpeckers look suspicious of you. I wonder what they are saying to other birds in the area….

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Shady 🙂

      I thought that as well 🙂 It might be that her head is tilted sideways because she is listening for insects in the wood. Robins tilt their heads sideways to listen for worms in the ground. The birds must sense my presence somehow because they like to fly away before I get too close. There have been a few exceptions. The Cedar Waxwings didn’t seem at all interested in me. And I have a picture of a robin for later in the week who didn’t move from his perch in a crabapple tree when I walked up. I saw a Cardinal on Sunday, but he flew away too quickly and didn’t come back. I could hear him singing, but it was from an area south of the Arboretum’s fence.

  2. navasolanature says:

    Interesting account of your walk and I too often wonder what key birds are eating! Have a great RSPB book from UK which is about wildlife gardening and it gives a lot of detail about the foods eaten and types of plants key birds like.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi 🙂
      Thanks for visiting and commenting! I have been watching and listening to the birds out of my window and on my walks for years, but haven’t had the time yet to learn very much about their behaviors. Looking at the photo of the Cedar Waxwing eating when I got home, it looked to me like it was a bee. The color is right. It looks orange. There were bees everywhere. Thankfully, the bees were very interested in the pear blossoms and not interested in me. If it was a bee, then I wonder how the bird managed to eat it without getting stung. Perhaps I will see them again. They were tucked inside the branches on Sunday and hard to see. I picked up a copy of the Peterson Guide to Birds of North America a while back and I really enjoy looking through it. It doesn’t have very much information on each bird since it covers many birds. It does have good illustrations of the birds and the key identifying markers. Lots to learn when I find the time. It would be nice to know in planting a garden which plants attract the birds. I live in an apartment so I don’t have a garden, but there are patches of untended ground here and there as well as parks like the Arboretum I can visit. There is a stand of trees at the end of this building. A little while ago when I came home, I was listening and watching some birds in the trees. I have to look at the photos I took to see if I can tell who they are. I didn’t recognize their song.

  3. navasolanature says:

    Lovely to hear about you and it does take time finding out about birds. I discovered a second hand book, quite old that had a lot of interesting history and detail about common British birds. Good luck with your discoveries!

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