Sunday, March 12, 2017

HumBug: Falling Blossoms

Posted By on Sun, Mar 12, 2017 at 4:35 PM

click to enlarge A flower fly on an ornamental plum blossom.
  • A flower fly on an ornamental plum blossom.

It's been a long rainy spell and my plum trees have been waiting in full bloom for a warm day. I kept expecting them to lose their petals but despite sometimes heavy rains and occasional hail, they kept them. I think they're like orchids. The flowers of most orchids can hold for weeks or even months so long as they're not pollinated. On the very day they achieve pollination they start to wither. Once the flower's beauty has served it's purpose, seducing some critter into performing the deed for them, the petals are discarded, nectar production shuts down; the real work of building seeds and fruit gets under way.
click to enlarge An angelwing butterfly photobombed by a bee. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • An angelwing butterfly photobombed by a bee.
Wednesday started out wet, but by afternoon it warmed up. If the sun didn't actually peek through, the sky lit up and flies and bees were out in abundance, accompanied by a single anglewing butterfly. Along with the nectar sippers came predators, as well. One of North America's smallest birds, a ruby crowned kinglet (Regulus calendula), took a honeybee right in front of me, landed and repeatedly smacked it against a branch before swallowing it in one gulp. It happened too quickly to even get my camera up. To a bird not much bigger than my thumb, a bee sting must be a terrible danger. But the bees were the largest and slowest moving prey I saw, so I guess it did a quick risk /benefit calculation and went with it. A golden haired dung fly snatched a fly nearly its own size out of the air and dragged it to the grass.
click to enlarge A dung fly dining on what looks to be a flesh fly. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A dung fly dining on what looks to be a flesh fly.
Two days later my trees are starting to leaf out and the ground is littered with petals like tiny discarded petticoats.
click to enlarge A green Gage plum tree - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A green Gage plum tree


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