Category Archives: Fauna

Gull taking home some food

You can take some home

My wise old grandmother

Whenever my wise old grandmother (MWOG) took me out to eat, inevitably I could not eat everything that the restaurant served me. MWOG often told me, “Just because the restaurant served it to you doesn’t mean you have to eat it all now. You can take some home.”

In her afterlife, I believe she has been counseling some fauna here on Earth:

Squirrel taking home some food

Gull taking home some food

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IMG_7761 Coco

Picture of the Moment—Meet Coco

Picture of the Moment

I’m the incoming newsletter editor for the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society (SDCSS) .

With over 700 members, it’s the largest chapter of the Cactus & Succulent Society of America.

So I was obligated (not that anyone had to twist my arm) to attend the SDCSS Winter Show & Sale.

I heard that it’s the second largest cactus & succulent show & sale in the United States, right behind the SDCSS Summer Show & Sale.

It looks like I’m going to have a great time meeting lots of people, seeing lots of cool plants, taking lots of pictures, and, of course, compiling the newsletter each month.

Here’s my favorite picture from this past weekend:

IMG_7761 Coco

That’s Coco. She’s just a year old and belongs to one of our SDCSS members. One of her parents was a floppy-eared dog and the other parent was a perky-eared dog. Hence, the floppy ear and the perky ear on little Coco, which I thought was sooooooooooooooo cute.

Fortunately, my assistant, a cutie herself, is not jealous so she did approve this post.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

The story of the honey bees

I live in my own little world

I can definitively tell you that honey bees don’t like garlic. Around 7:00 a.m. on Monday, January 29, I spread some garlic powder around the north pond where the honey bees have been congregating to quench their thirsty little bodies. I specifically put the garlic powder out before the honey bees arrived because the smell will drive them away whereas getting the powder directly on them will kill them.

Honey beesYesterday the bee congregation at the north pond was about half what it was the day before while there was a noticeable bee congregation at the new Wildlife Corner pond. Today, I only saw three honey bees at the north pond. I caught their conversation:

PondJim (first honey bee): “Wow! Where is everyone, Andrew?”

Andrew (second honey bee): “I don’t know, Jim. I just got here myself.”

Jim: “What’s that awful smell?”

Andrew: “I think it’s garlic.”

Jim: “Oh, no! Is everyone dead, then?”

Andrew: “I don’t think so. I saw Matt just a couple of hours ago over in La Mesa.”

Brian (new arrival): “Jim! Andrew! Don’t go near the water. There’s garlic on the beaches!”

Pond in Wildlife CornerAndrew: “We know! But where is everyone?”

Brian: “We’re all in back. I came to see if anyone was out here. This guy, Russel, who lives here, built a huge pond for us with all sorts of beaches. He even bought a bird bath and put some rocks in it to make it shallower for us. He’s a great guy! He rescues us if we fall in the water and can’t get out. He’s the reason Mary, Margaret, Dirk, Ken, Mark, and Cary are still with us.”Sea lavender

Jim: “I’m pretty tired, though. I was all the way over in Rancho San Diego today. The jacarandas, lilies of the Nile, and sea lavender all are blooming. It’s paradise, but I sure am thirsty.”

Brian: “The new pond is just around back, about a minute’s flight. Follow me! You can make it!”

I am pleased to report that I did not have to rescue a single honey bee today. Maybe I have enough shallow areas and beaches so that they don’t fall in the water, or maybe the weaker honey bees already drowned in a pool somewhere, or maybe honey bees are capable of learning what to do and what not to do….

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My Own Little World—Update on my thirsty honey bees

I live in my own little world

Update on my thirsty honey bees.

For the first two posts, see these:

https://russelrayphotos2.com/2018/01/26/did-you-know-bees-get-thirsty-too/

https://russelrayphotos2.com/2018/01/27/my-own-little-world-construction-of-the-wildlife-corner-pond/

I put out a little bag of pear and mango slices but the honeybees have absolutely zero interest.

However, all is not lost.

After constructing the bigger pond in Wildlife Corner and setting up the birdbath, about fifty honey bees found it. It was obvious that they had traveled far to get there because they were so tired that they kept falling into the water and didn’t have enough energy to get out. I spent a long time with a little stick helping the little ones get out of the water. I hope they have learned not to go into the water if they are too tired to swim. So I have a large colony at the smaller north pond and a large colony at the larger south pond. I still don’t want the honey bees at the smaller north pond because it is too close to the walkway to the garage. It’s a little disconcerting to have to walk through a hundred flying honey bees on the way to the car, or on the way from the car to the house with arms full of groceries….

So….

I’m going to try deterrent methods. The first one is to sprinkle powdered garlic around the pond. Apparently honey bees find garlic odor offensive and will stay away, hopefully moving to the Wildlife Corner pond. And it’s true! The honey bees don’t like the front pond anymore, but they still are out there flying around. Hopefully they all will find the Wildlife Corner pond soon.

Meanwhile, here’s a macro picture of a honey bee drinking water from the birdbath out in Wildlife Corner:

Macro picture of a honey bee drinking water

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Picture of the Moment—First one I’ve ever seen outside of a zoo or aquarium

Picture of the Moment

Outside of a zoo or aquarium, I had never seen a millipede, a living, breathing, walking-on-a-million-legs millipede. Until yesterday.

It was making its way across a sandy area of my garden. I gave it a little help getting to the shadier side. I hope a bigger creature doesn’t make a meal out of him, but he will have more hiding places on the shadier side.

My wise old grandmotherThen again, though, as my wise old grandmother would say as she was moving an invasive creature from the indoors back to the outdoors: “It’s important for the food chain.” I learned a lot from my wise old grandmother.

I have seen quite a few creatures in the wild out here at our place in the boondocks that I had never seen in the wild before, including a praying mantis and a California quail.

Praying mantis in Winter Gardens

California quail

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My Own Little World—Construction of the Wildlife Corner pond

I live in my own little world

I put 12 hours of effort on Friday into creating a pond where my little tired and thirsty honeybees will be happy.

Following are three pictures documenting construction.

All I have to do now is add some little sandy beaches so the honeybees can live the good life and add some plants to provide shelter and shade.

Pond in Wildlife Corner

Pond in Wildlife Corner

Pond in Wildlife Corner

During the 12 hours that I spent building the Wildlife Corner Pond, lots of wildlife came by to see what I was doing. A couple of rabbits watched me from a small hill in the open space preserve on the other side of the chain link fence. Four ground squirrels watched me from an area that I call “Ground Squirrel Hill,” also on the other side of the chain link fence. And seven yellow birds—I have no idea what kind of birds they are but I have never seen them before—sat on the wood fence and in the trees above the fence watching me. I suspect the new water source in Wildlife Corner will draw even more wildlife, especially birds, than I am accustomed to seeing each day.

Two yellow birds watching construction

Rabbit and squirrelsAfter construction was completed and the pond was full of water—and I was inside—lots of birds stopped by. Several curve-billed thrashers, lots of sparrows, a western scrub jay, and many honeybees. The fact that some honeybees already have discovered this new water source gives me encouragement that I’ll be able to coax the honeybees from the front pond to the new Wildlife Corner pond. I think the rabbits and ground squirrels already had gone to bed for the evening so I look forward to seeing how they react when I put out food for them in about seven hours.

All pictures were taken with my smarty pants phone since I’m not taking $2,000 worth of camera equipment out into a construction zone full of dirt and water.

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Did You Know?—Bees get thirsty, too!

Did you know?

Part of my landscaping project for our new home was to create a little pond. Not too big because I prefer plants to ponds, but a little pond does create visual interest to go along with the plants. Shortly after creating my little pond on December 16, 2017, it looked like this:

Pond

A couple of days ago, my little pond looked like this:

I’m a big fan of honeybees. However….

I don’t want a beehive in my yard. But I have never seen a beehive on or under the ground, and certainly not where it can get flooded by waters from a pond.

Not wanting to kill the little bees—after all, my wise old grandmother taught me that all life has a right to live—I stopped by a bee removal business and asked them what was going on and what I could do.

Turns out that honeybees get thirsty, too, and the bees here at my little pond have discovered a great water source out here in the dry boondocks. That knowledge, though, didn’t lead me to any conclusions about what to do other than let my little pond dry up. I wasn’t going to do that. So I have decided to create yet another pond, but this one will be out in my Wildlife Corner where, currently, the squirrels and rabbits are fighting it out for supremacy.

It's 4-2, squirrels over rabbits

The block wall already is gone and in about 15 hours I will have a little pond there.

I asked the bee guy about the bees that tend to get into the water and drown. I couldn’t figure out why bees would practice self-drowning. He said that those bees came the farthest and were so excited about finding a water source that they went swimming, forgetting that they didn’t know how to swim. Ooopsy.

More seriously, they didn’t have the energy left to get out of the water if they fell in, and they didn’t have enough energy left to keep their balance and not fall in. With that knowledge, the new pond in Wildlife Corner will have lots of shallow areas, beaches, and rocks where they can rest, or crawl out of the water if they fall in.

Once I have the new pond in Wildlife Corner, I will help the bees find it. The way to do that is to put some fresh fruit—pears and mangos are best—in a little bag, put the bag about 20 feet from the pond, and in a couple of days all the bees will move to the fruit. I have about 60 feet between front pond and Wildlife Corner pond, so it will take me a couple of weeks to get these bees moved to the Wildlife Corner pond. I feel like a little kid in first grade doing his first experiment. Will this work? I don’t know. Everything on the Internet indicates that it will. I’m cautiously optimistic.

So, did you know that bees actually get thirsty, too! I figured they got all their liquid sustenance from flowers, but in thinking about that more logically, that doesn’t make much sense. Hmmmm. Sixty years, 10 months, and 15 days on this Earth, and I’m still learning stuff….

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post