Swan Swam Over the Lake

The pond we often visit for walks/Pokémon hunting used to have a swan couple. they were kind of the mascots of the village, featuring on signs, they were looked after and taken in during winter, but last year the unthinkable happened: a swan divorce! One of them left and the other one soon vanished (died?), so for the last year there were no swans. Now they got a new swan family, complete with cygnets.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

BTW, shortly before I took these from a safe distance, a lady let her baby(!) up to one metre to the swans. But guess whom she would have blamed if the baby had gotten eaten…

All the Pretty Little Flowers 4: The Residents

Now we’ve talked a lot about how important wildflowers are in general for all kinds of lovely critters, so here they are.

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Teensy tiny bees. The flower has at most a diameter of 15-20 mm. The bee is the size of my pinky finger nail.

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A very fat fly. Probably one of those that try to eat us alive.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

This one dressed all up for the occasion.

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Yes, there’s also spiders.

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And pretty birds ;)

All the Pretty Little Flowers 3: The Downstairs

Poor PZ is still mowing his lawn. Around here Mr regularly sighs “I need to mow the lawn and then we do something else. I like that. I think we will make some hay later in summer in preparation of the degus. For now it’s a pretty wilderness.

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Though we should not use that area for feed as there are many raspberries starting their career there right now.

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All the Pretty Little Flowers 2: The Slopes

As you may recall, our house is built on pretty steep terrain. The ground floor windows in the front are the first floor in the back. From there you have another treeish metres height difference to the garden. last year we had the stairs remodelled, since the old ones were rapidly becoming accidents waiting to happen. The slopes on either side are still steep and this year we started to stabilise the left hand side so we can put a lamppost on top.

The small area created at the top has been sown with “butterfly meadow” and “wildflower mix”. You can buy these seed mixes easily in Germany as many people are trying to bee more friendly. I also always toss a few handful on the rest of the area, which remains in pretty disarray.

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The dark side of the pumpkin patch. That area is more or less permanently in shade and this year we just didn’t have the nerve to look for something that would thrive there after the slugs ate the first round of plants. Suggestions welcome. But you can see the structure well.

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The pumpkin/squash/courgette patch. they are coming along nicely with several promising plants already. Only I never know what is what. You can also see the bane of my gardening existence: Horsetail. A plant that survived the dinosaurs. Common gardening advice is “nuke it from orbit”. It spreads through rhizomes that are also very fragile and will snap quickly so you’ll never get them all out. But you can make some wonderful fertilizer out of it: put the plants into a bucket with water and let it rot. Stinks like hell, but 100% organic, free and efficient.

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All the Pretty Little Flowers 1: The frontyard

Pz has been raging and ranting about lawns and lawnmowers and I wholeheartedly agree. It also prompted me to do a bit of bragging about the sheer beauty of not having a lawn. Let’s start with the front yard, which was carefully weeded when we bought the house. Here’s another aspect of those lawn and front yard regulations: To keep them up to “standards” you need time to do it or money to hire somebody else to do it. I quickly reduced weeding to an absolute minimum. Nobody touches a dandelion in MY front yard. One thing that happened quickly was that wild strawberries overtook most of the ground. They do many things at once:

First, they protect the ground from drying out.

Second, they provide flowers for pollinators.

Third, they taste so good.

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In spring I built a plant tower in an empty space that had previously been occupied by some useless evergreen bush that got thankfully eaten by caterpillars. I also planted some regular strawberries there.

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Guarded by my little dragons

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M

If you want to make bees happy, plant lavender. It will also make you happy. Lavender is low maintenance, just cut off the dry stalks in autumn and ok with dry weather. I don’t know if it can survive Minnesota winters.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

Probably no German frontyard is complete without a hydrangea. They are lovely, but high maintenance (needing much water, cutting, right ground) and absolutely no good for insects. Like most plants here they are a leftover from the previous owner. I figure that with so many bee friendly plants around I can afford a couple that only look nice.

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I have no idea about most of the plants that grow here. They were already well established when we moved in. Some of them have already bloomed long ago. I basically get flowers from March to October.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Also one corner has been taken over by some wildflowers. I like them, the insects like them. We’re good.

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Oh, and btw, the next door neighbour has a lawn (I’m not criticising her, she’s 90 and still living all alone). It’s a sad brown area right now and the grass always creeps into my yard which means that I have to do the weeding there.

Wednesday Wings: Haven’t you grown?!!!

It’s been a while since I posted an update on our adorable Nile geese.

The first pics are from two weeks ago.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

They have almost their parents’ colouring and size, only the heads are still darker. Sadly, 7 gosducklings turned into 4, but nature is a cruel place where often adorable baby birds turn into a fox’s next meal.

On Monday we met again, and one of them was just as interested in me, as I was in it.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

There was no aggression in its behaviour, just pure curiosity in that strange creature with a box for a face.

Blackheaded Cardinal Beetle

This little buddy has climbed out of a hollow brick yesterday when I was processing dog-daisies into chemical weapons against wooly aphids infesting my bonsai trees (long story).

It was kind enough to remain in place for quite some time, allowing me to take pictures from all possible angles.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

An Updeerte: To the Reh-scue

Yesterday I posted about our resident deer and fawn. Yesterday afternoon our friends visited us in our garden, and while we were sitting there, we could hear the little one call out for mummy and sure she showed up:

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Only that this time the little one wasn’t hidden in our garden, which is open to the woods, but in our neighbour’s which is partly open to ours, but closed to the woods. I’ve written about this problem for our deerest friends before: They run to the back where there’s a fence. Despite all of us leaving the garden so that mummy could come and get her baby, she did not dare to come closer towards our house where the opening to the neighbour’s garden is and the fawn stood at the fence in the back crying its heart out, so Mr and I decided to start a rescue operation.

We went to the neighbour’s backyard (yay for good neighbours and the permission to trespass) and opened the door in the back so the little one could leave.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

At first it was still standing, crying its heart out, while we could hear mummy rustle in the ferns behind the fence. As we came closer it did what fawns instinctively do: it lay down and kept very, very still, trusting its camouflage:

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Find the fawn. If we hadn’t known it was there we would have walked right past it. As it was we had to go within a metre of the poor thing, probably scaring it half to death, but it was lying right beside the door. Of course we didn’t get any closer than we had to and didn’t touch it, the pics are all taken with my big lens and Mr was very careful not to disturb it.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

As soon as we retreated the cutie staggered out of the door and I went back to close it again. Our neighbour is very firm with closing those doors because there’s also wild boars  around. I could see it lying in the ferns and I heard mummy a few metres off. Since there was no more crying I suppose they left together soon afterwards.

Fawn-tastic

Some evening last week one of local roe deer grazed in the lower, and so far mostly overgrown part of the garden.

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You can see the ugly old fence post in the left corner marking the border between the garden that belongs to our house and the part that we merely rent from the city.

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We keep the brambles at bay, so while there’s tons of stinging nettles, there’s also grass and herbs.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

What I didn’t know at that time was that she has a sweet little fawn hidden somewhere close. We only found out when on Saturday we heard a sound that was actually more like a bird of prey and thought that maybe there was an injured animal in the backyard. Since then we’ve been seeing them on and off, she tolerates us at up to about 10m, but of course I usually don’t have the camera ready, but today I had. Tell me if that isn’t the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. I banned everybody from the garden for the next half hour so they could have a bit of peace after I took my pics, but they seem to regard the kids on the trampoline as a non-threat anyway.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

Friday Feathers: Adorafluffballs

First of all, a happy first of May. We may not be out there protesting, but it’s even more important than ever to defend the rights of working people and the working class, as they’re currently, quite literally, sacrificed of the altar of profit.

Having said that, here’s some cute.

The Nile geese had chicks, or whatever you crazy Anglophones call them.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Wednesday Wings: a Eurasian Blackcap, or how Sexism is Just Plain Stupid

Because obviously half the bird population does not halve a black cap, just like most blackbirds are brown indeed.

But it’s a cute LBB (Little Brown Bird) and I was happy to take her picture.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Always get that first shot, because you never know if you will have time to adjust the camera

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved