A Swainson's Thrush and Duskywings
A summer afternoon watching the bee frenzy on calamint and a large drift of California aster and wondering which butterflies will show up. That’s when two very fresh Mournful Duskywings with their crisp white skirts drifted in to nectar on the aster. They danced together awhile, checked out what else was blooming but kept returning. Then a Mylitta Crescent and Gray Hairstreak joined them. I’ve been seeing Gray Hairstreaks frequently this summer, one appeared to be laying eggs on the lemon balm (not actually on the long list of possible host plants) moving methodically from leaf to leaf. Though I couldn’t find eggs, it is interesting that many spider webs appeared soon afterward in the same area of activity.
Western Tiger Swallowtails have been hanging out most of the summer, nectaring on buddleias and now the bright orange tithonia flowers, so when I saw a flash of yellow at the top of the buddleia, I assumed it was the Tiger, but Eureka! Finally, an Anise Swallowtail in the garden. Common, yes, but not so much in my West Sonoma County neighborhood these days. Rarely do I see them, even when out hiking, so a very pleasant surprise.
Movement at the birdbath— a Swainson'sThrush perched on the rim and staring right at me. Sleek, elegant, beautifully spotted breast and bright eye and the first one I’ve been lucky enough to see at the birdbath. The Swainson's and the Hermit Thrush, which look identical to me, are shy creatures, unlike the towhee and mockingbird and jay. Even though I kept very still, sending silent messages of encouragement, it was not enough. A few hops around the edge and it was gone. No sip of water. No bath. The quail family has been foraging at dusk in the back garden; fortunately many of the babies survived this spring. The male will occasionally take the guard position at the edge of the birdbath, but I have not seen them bathe or drink, though they do love their dust baths.
The gopher snake my neighbor rescued and introduced into her garden had babies and I’m hoping at least a few will take up residence; their favorite food source is plentiful!