Spring Attacks!

Oh the carnage, the humanity, the bio-economy of it all! The constant mating everywhere! The constant devouring everywhere! Does it ever end!?

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Toris Amarrylus

Daughter’s amaryllis ferrari

It was a very mild winter. Many don’t remember winter being so non-existent. Then came the abnormal rainfall. Many Central Texas lakes and rivers had been well below normal water levels for several years due to drought. Not this Spring! Texas endured record flooding across much of the state. That’s the good news and the bad news. If you are an avid gardener or farmer, it’s bad news — the insects normally killed during cold hard freezes in winter, all survived. If you are a bird, a frog, a pond goldfish, a field-mouse, an armadillo, a rabbit, a skunk, a cat, a grey fox, a raccoon, a ring-tail cat, or a white-tailed deer, no winter means TONS of food everywhere! And if you are a birder or Naturalist (me), it is wildness galore and heaven on Earth for you and all creatures! So as it goes… “it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

 

Our mild winter, our Christmas, and a sign of things to come began with my daughter’s gift of Amaryllis Ferrari. For about two months it constantly flowered with a total of nine blooms throughout the 8-weeks. On a sidenote, my apologies for the substandard quality of my pictures and videos. It’s my LG camera-phone’s fault.

In late March I cranked down the Martin-house in back overlooking the Guadalupe River valley and Kerrville. I cleaned it out in the hope that Purple Martins would move-in before the common Sparrows, like they’ve so often done. For about a week the two bird-breeds fought fiercely over the 12-unit two-story house. As I watched the battling and wing-flapping, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the many times our neighbors complained about my high school rock-metal band practicing in our downstairs garage. It was so loud at times we shook the living room and kitchen floors above us. Upset and not at all proper fans of quality high-fidelity music, Mom and my sister sounded strangely similar to this yelling and screaming…

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

By the end of April and several back-to-back fronts seemingly every 10-12 days bringing more rainfall, the entire property lit up with golds, pinks, yellows, indigos, crimsons, and every possible types of greens and textures imaginable. This year, instead of two sets of lantana camara, we have three sets. And surprisingly, the once strictly yellow-blooms have turned to a mix of pinks and yellows. How is it possible when we did no transplanting? Then it hits me.

 

whitetail-deer-family

The evil, insatiable Odocoileus virginianus.

This outdoor caretaker, this gardener, this beautification security guard (myself), has a few thoughtless nemeses roaming about at night. The most villianest of them all is Odocoileus virginianus and it knows no limit to its diet! If it’s colorful, green, and designed for human admiration and enjoyment, it’s on the menu! But their insatiable appetite is only half their evil doings. While lounging and munching during the moonlit darkness, as I slumber they leave their calling-card… EVERYWHERE! If you walk the lawn with your head up so as not to bang your head on bird feeders or Live Oak branches, then you will certainly step in Odocoileus virginianus evidence, or shit warmly left behind for a morning reminder of who is ultimately in-charge outside. Yet, there’s a silver-lining to these animal bowels:  transplanted lantanas!

Our family’s 12-acre property and ranchita home has a surrounding lush St. Augustine lawn, a waterfall with pond, and many spectacular plants and native herbs  carefully placed and landscaped. Because I have no desire to patrol at the godforsaken midnight, 2:00, or 4:00 a.m hours, I have brilliantly constructed protective cages around our plants or tasty menu items! There is another downside.

Lantana-3Thriving from nature’s touch and my superb care, our stunning plants quickly outgrow my short-sighted fixed protections, sticking through the wiring offering-up their appetizing blooms to my ever-present, always hungry 4-legged nemeses, who then ironically and quite unintentionally shit more flowers for us… sort of. The deer must loiter long enough for full lantana recycling, or mobile intestinal planting. There’s another thinly silver-lined benefit — thinly in the most invisible sense. Excited neighbors mention they now have “wild native” lantana growing in their yard. Hmm, nothing like sharing the bowels of beauty with everyone!

It is the best of times, and it is the worst of times.

white-winged_dovesThey have 4-6 broods a year and are taking over the neighborhood. I speak of the bull-headed pigeon-offshoot, the white-winged doves. Even their newborn offspring begin nesting a few months after leaving their parent’s nest! Eat, nest, eat, shit, lay eggs, eat with bigger flock, mate like it’s going extinct, eat, shit more, lay more eggs, eat more, repeat. Essentially I’ve described the incredibly vigorous head-bobbing life of the white-winged doves. Their cooing sounds like a bunch of yawning bored unintelligent dinner clubbers. We had enough! Time to take action on the other nemeses.

Some wonderful person invented a deterrent called bird-shot for .22-caliber long rifles. The ammo isn’t too powerful — I used it to hit white-tailed deer in the ass when sneaking up to the St. Augustine grass and bird-feeders in daylight until they figured out I meant serious daytime business… until I was in bed in the middle of the night, when the All-You-Can-Eat buffet begins. The sting on their buttocks makes them scatter… far! Oh the pleasure I would receive watching them kick-up their hind legs when the pellets stung. Admittedly, I felt all-powerful, King of this hill and my Kingdom and all who dwelleth within. Here me roar.

Then a magnificent natural event took place.

red-shouldered hawkWhile shooting the bird-shot at the thousands of white-winged doves over running our baths and feeders, I wounded one of them. He or she tried to fly away, but could only hobble hop in the grass. Another ww-dove came out of the tree tops to be with it — its mate? And then as quickly as it came down it flew back up! I thought how odd. Before I could think of why, WOOOSH! From some nearby tree our familiar red-shoulder hawk in seconds swooped down and tackled the wounded ww-dove, pinning it to the ground within its sharp talons! As it sat on top of the dove, our Martins and Swallows dived-bombed the hawk three or four times, the hawk’s head ducking each time, but unrelenting of its catch. A minute or so passed and the gorgeous bird launched, carrying with it the meal for its family.

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

It wasn’t long before when that hawk took natural liberties upon our soothing well-designed and maintained waterfall and pond complete with leopard frogs and Goldfish. Two years prior we placed four goldfish in the empty pond. Two were male and fully vivid orange. One was a spotted female Koi, the other an all-white albino Koi. Today, we have some 40-50 fish living happily in our pond I maintain daily. See following video…

One early morning as I was sipping my coffee, out of the corner of my eye through our 11-windowed living room I glimpse a huge brown shadow fall from our rooftop into our pond. As I turned to see what it was the red-shouldered hawk flapped its 4-foot wingspan several times on the water surface, then once it snagged its prey it carried off our albino Koi which had grown to 6-inches in length. She was pregnant too because the all-orange males were both mating her with unending voracity the previous week sometimes wedging her against the rocks splashing water in all directions. In fact, all the fish were having orgies everywhere in the pond! When spring sprung, so did all the raging hormones it seems. But our pure-white albino Koi was no more; sushi for the red-shouldered. As the red Claret-cacti flowers in the header image above alludes…

It is the best of times, and it is the worst of times” depending where in the food-chain you exist.

If it weren’t for my 6′ 0″ frame and build, I might be on the menu too. However, before I get to that, allow me to share a few images of how vivid spring has arrived or attacked, along with a cat (Foster) that when outside is constantly twitchy-jumpy from all the overstimulating wildlife 24-hours a day. When it becomes too much, well… you’ll see how he copes:

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Cliff_Swallow

Cat torturer

One of this spring’s entertainment packages enjoyed by Foster-the-cat is the neck bending flybys — looks like torture sometimes — from the new resident cliff swallows nesting in our back porch. They’re a bit anti-social. They do not welcome Foster hanging around. Some days when he wants to lie in stealth around the pond for incognizant leopard frogs sunbathing on the warm rocks, he rudely interrupts the cliff swallow couple! They are trying to make a risk-free mud home atop our music speakers. HAH! They seem to want what everything else is enjoying:  LOVE. It seems to be the trend — to follow suit with all the other rampant mating orgies which proceed from sun up to sun down and beyond! The cat leaps into the air with delusions of grandeur that maybe, just maybe the gods of trajectory and velocity will smile upon him. Foiled! Foiled again! Why can’t I have wings! Perhaps this is the view from Foster’s perspective providing us evolved humans with endless springtime entertainment…

And so to borrow from Dickens with slight modification…

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times,
it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness,
it is clearly the age of birth, death, and near-death!

It is the epoch of belief, it is the epoch of incredulity,
it is the season of Light, it is the season of Darkness,
it is the spring of hope, it is the orgy of feasting.
We have everything before us, we have nothing before us,
we are all going direct to Heaven,
we are all going direct the other way–

In short, the cycle was so far cycling,
that some of its noisiest authorities
insisted on its being received,
for good and evil when spring has FULLY sprung!

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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11 thoughts on “Spring Attacks!

  1. Glad you are having a joyous spring. It was an early one here and full of green, but that is the usual. I can imagine it is a nice treat to have lots of water in the ground there for spring. Enjoy it until July and August when the heat kills it all! lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Enjoy it until July and August when the heat kills it all! lol

      Hahaha, yes. If the unseasonably mild winter was any indication, July and August will most likely be an oven, both in the afternoon and little respite in the evening. Which will mean even MORE bold, MORE hungry, MORE persistent white-tail deer after anything possible; especially the pregnant does and their fawns. They have been so aggressive before, they will literally come right up on our back porch, or climb all over the waterfall to get up into the necklace tree, to hanging baskets, and even up against the windows and sliding-glass door if there are potted plants on the buffet! The belly is more important than the risk of death! HAH! 😮

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You have me wondering whether or not I may ever have shat flowers, professor. I think perhaps not, being unable to recall more than a single incidence of evacuation sans ‘convenience’, as we Englanders delicately put it. In contrast, my sister recently admitted to aping bear-like behaviour when walking her dog in the woods, and I rather suspect this not to have been a singular occurrence on her account, albeit ones subject to others’ viewing through a 360 degree window on her inconvenient world. Speaking of which, you have eleven of them – in a single room! It must be all but impossible to tell what side of the divide one is on, save for the absence of turd-sown Lantanas. [I hope that is correct.] You are evil for shooting birds, and shall get reborn as a Lantana – and you know how they come into existence!

    Enjoyed this immensely, professor, and read it twice in fact. Your heavy breathing in the videos was a little disturbing to my imagination, but other than that, the whole was a triumph.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha! Your sister and I would get along dandy me thinks! Returning to our ‘primal’ origins is healthy they say — well, at the asylum they say that! 😀

      …you have eleven of them – in a single room! It must be all but impossible to tell what side of the divide one is on, save for the absence of turd-sown Lantanas. [I hope that is correct.]

      Haha, yes indeed 11 windows, and that is just the living room. The ranchita was designed to take advantage of the vistas 360-degrees. We will miss this home greatly once it is sold. :/

      You are evil for shooting birds, and shall get reborn as a Lantana – and you know how they come into existence!

      Bwahahaha! Are you putting a voodoo curse on me!? Are you making an Amulet and collecting your sharpest pins!? 😉 Yes, I thought I might touch a button or two with some readers/followers on that one. I thought long and hard about whether to mention it, BUT the story and experience of watching that GORGEOUS red-shouldered hawk swoop down in 2-SECONDS after the dove hobbled around in the grass was utterly fantastic and utterly natural! We need those hawks especially after an extremely warm wet winter and wet early-Spring. The symbiosis of insects and rodents (very heavily populated now due to global climate change) which increases the avian populations like ww-doves, goes wonderfully well with more predatory hawks! It’s wonderfully Natural my Friend. ❤ 🙂 Besides, the .22-caliber bird-shot sometimes bounces off the ww-doves because the lethal range of the shot is only about 15-yards. LOL 😛

      Your heavy breathing in the videos was a little disturbing to my imagination…

      HAH! Did it? I must admit Hariod, I’m liking that “imagination” of yours. Yes, I had to hold it close to my face because the bright glare outside — the changing contrasts on my phone’s screen — were really messing with my videoing-direction; i.e. wasn’t always sure I was focused in on my subject(s). I WISH I could have caught the cat, Foster, leaping up in the air after the cliff swallows. That was hilarious entertainment for some 5-minutes until he realized he was failing miserably.

      Happy you enjoyed this muse-of-a-post with touches of humour. I enjoyed writing, photographing, and videoing it. If I don’t embrace Mother Nature’s perfect way of managing all life… I could go further insane trying to do it my way. (laughing humbly)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hariod,

      You should’ve seen it! A more remarkable show of Nature’s brilliance and carnage! It was a sight to behold I tell you!!! 🙂

      Our largest leopard frog around the pond was about 3.5 inches from nose to butt with long 3-inch leaping-legs attached. This morning a HUGE brown shadow SWOOPED down from a tree above the rooftop, and without ever stopping, dived and skimmed the rocks just high enough to latch-on to the bathing unbeknownst plump, spotted belcher then back up into the Live Oak trees… all in a matter of 2-seconds! I watched as the glorious red-shouldered hawk tore into the under-belly and chin of the lifeless frog. A minute later it launched from that branch off into the eastern horizon, frog dangling from its talons.

      It was magnificent Hariod — like watching a Supermarine Spitfire Mk I with that purring Rolls-Royce Merlin diving in a lethal straffing run on helpless Nazis! Beauty amplified!

      TALLY-HO! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Unclear, professor; was “the bathing unbeknownst plump, spotted belcher” your goodly self or the bullfrog? If the former, then may I suggest foregoing pulses and brassicas for a week to see if that assists matters?

        My father used to fly Spitfires, amongst other things, and told me how with later developments the designers rather overcooked the power output of the Merlins, such that the effect was, rather than rotating the propeller at great speeds, then at a certain level of torque, the plane itself felt an unremitting impulse to rotate. Most discombobulating!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hahaha! You smart ass. 😉 Of course it was the leopard frog — they belch much louder than I!

          Oh my! I have NEVER heard that about the Merlins and fighting the Spitfire aerodynamics, or in this case: ailerons — utterly amazing the beautiful bird wanted to rotate! But that’s another story about that incredible engine that changed the air war! Wow. Your father would know, eh? Love that sort of tid-bit info. Thank you Sir! ❤ 😀

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I have all sorts of interesting aircraft related facts, professor. I used to live very close to Frank Whittle’s home on North Dartmoor, here in the South West of England. As doubtless you know, he invented the jet engine. A few years later he invented the hairdryer and blew his wife’s head off.

          Liked by 1 person

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