This morning when I went outside, I heard the call of an Eastern Phoebe. It made me smile, but I had no illusions about being able to spot it. So imagine my surprise several hours later when I caught motion up in one of the fir trees and spotted a phoebe. I snapped some shots and then watched as it hunted, moving from perch to perch as it went. Eventually, it landed on this nice bare branch right off the patio with a perfectly clean background.
Phoebe's are summer breeders in our area and among the first to arrive and last to leave. In fact, some winters a few hardy individuals will stay through providing they can find enough open water and insects. Like all flycatchers, they catch most of their prey on the wing, waiting on a perch until they spot something and then zipping out and grabbing it. A delight to have this one around the yard today and to be able to include it in my yardbird records for this year.
I didn't really do much today - mostly pottered around outside and then got on a long call with bestie, Peg. She is in Tucson, just a couple of miles from the terrible Bighorn fire that has already savaged 30,000 acres. They are on standby to evacuate if the wind changes, so a very stressful time, especially added to the rise in Covid cases in Arizona. Anyway, it was very good to hear her voice and to get caught up on each other's lives.
Oh, and I discovered the first Monarch caterpillar on one of my milkweed plants this afternoon! Quite a surprise as it was a big one, probably 4th instar phase. I've been periodically checking the milkweed for any signs of chewing but hadn't seen any signs at all so I did a double take when I spotted the big fat cat on the plant. Given his size, I'm leaving him where he is, letting nature take its course. Next month I'll start gathering eggs to rear some of the caterpillars in safe enclosures, as I do every year.
Governor Cuomo is ending his daily briefings tomorrow which kind of makes me sad as I really do like his straightforward approach. However, he has worked 109 straight days, doing briefings on every single day and now that NY state is on the road to reopening, he says he needs to get to other priorities. Hopefully NY and NJ will continue to manage the virus as both states reopen. So far, so good. But people need to keep up social distancing, masks, etc.
Be safe, be kind, be loving...