Sunday, November 5, 2023

A Black Raspberry Feast, and Other Early-Mid July 2023 sights

Let's go back to July! (It seems I'm currently four months behind with posting sights from our property -- that's actually not bad for me at this time of year!)

This was an especially great summer for wild berries around here. The Black Raspberry plants produced lots of fruit in first half of July, and in August the Blackberries produced just so many berries, way more than I've seen in previous years on our property. Of course, it helps that we're letting these plants gradually expand from the edges of the woods into the meadow and in a spot near the house; with more plants each year, it makes sense that there would also be more berries. But even the shaded plants in the woods produced many more berries this year than I usually see. In any case, and whatever the reason, this was the summer of berries, and there was plenty of fruit for both people and animals!

Happily, this year I also figured out that the Black Raspberry patch at the north side of our house is perfectly situated for picture-taking through an open window, with our house acting as a big blind. It's nice to be able to watch visiting creatures from nearby without scaring them away. On July 10, this Eastern Chipmunk spent several minutes grabbing and munching on Black Raspberries (what happened to your tail, chipmunk?):

Got one:

Here are some more pictures of this little fuzzy creature enjoying the Black Raspberry feast:

A family of Baltimore Orioles was making good work of these berries, too. This juvenile oriole helpfully posed in the open for a bit, showing off its orange/yellow-splotched breast and berry-stained beak:

This young bird's wings and back are so neat and pretty:

And it looks like this bird even got some sort of insect snack in between berries:

This Rose-breasted Grosbeak (an adult female? or juvenile?) came near the Black Raspberry patch during this photo-shoot, too, but I'm not sure whether it was actually eating the berries. I like how pretty this bird looks perched here among still-green Chokecherry berries and glowing white Common Elderberry blossoms in the background:

On July 13, I spent some more time watching the Black Raspberry patch through the open window, and although I didn't get any more pictures of birds eating berries, I did see this cute Chipping Sparrow very close up as it foraged in the mowed area of our lawn:

And this Tiger Swallowtail made a lovely sight on Purple Coneflower blossoms:

And I couldn't resist taking a picture of the nearby Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervivens), blooming for the first time after I planted it here last year; what a beautiful plant, and native (and yes, it was a big hit with the hummingbirds this year):

On July 19, this handsome American Robin perched on top of the Coral Honeysuckle's arbor with its beak full of honeysuckle berries, but these from the non-native bushes that grow invasively around here:

Here are a few other assorted sights from early-mid July.

A soaking wet Blue Jay emerging after a rainstorm on July 3:

A mother White-tailed Deer and one of her fawns (the second fawn was also nearby but outside of the frame) munching on the Black Raspberry plants (and maybe berries?) next to the house on the evening of July 6:

A juvenile Rose-breasted Grosbeak in the apple tree near our deck on July 10:

This young grosbeak had a nice grooming session while I was nearby, so here are several pictures of this bird in many interesting poses, showing its lovely yellow underarms and other usually hidden features of its costume:

I love having families of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks around our yard every summer, even though the young birds always take some bites out of the tallest-growing plants in my garden -- especially peas and winter squashes, and sometimes they nibble on other vegetables, too. Actually, I think these birds helped me out with my squashes this year: they nipped off the growing ends of my most vigorous squash plants when they reached the top of the trellis, which made the plants send out a bunch of new growth points, and these plants ended up making way more flowers and fruit than I was expecting. Thanks, young grosbeaks!

Finally, here's a picture of a baby Eastern Phoebe in its nest in our shed on July 13 (there are some more babies hiding down in the nest, too); this was our phoebe pair's third nesting attempt this year, and the only successful one, after the first two attempts were parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds:

I'll close this post with some video clips from the trail camera in our woods, taken on July 5-18, and featuring a Blue Jay eating Black Raspberries that were growing next to the trail, a raccoon and three babies, a Virginia Opossum, an adult Ruffed Grouse with excellent camouflage (and I think some babies rustling around in the undergrowth), a Wild Turkey, and a Gray Squirrel also munching on Black Raspberries -- a fitting end to this berry-full post:


It's nice to look back at the height of summer as the days are now getting shorter and colder. And I still have more summer sights to share. More in a future post!