The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group. It is a place to note any observations you have made of the world around you. Rain, sun, wind...insects, birds, flowers...meteorites, rocks...seasonal changes...all are worthy additions to the bucket. Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment. Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located. Each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unwinding around us.There's no bucket in the queue and I've already published one fill in diary today so why not another. Here's a few observations from the last 24 hours plus some backstory from last month.
Carolina Wrens are noted for their tendency to build nests in the most unlikely spots. In previous years they have nested in the newspaper slot built into our mailbox, inside a light fixture, and on pots of hanging plants. All within easy reach of a human.
About six weeks ago I was preparing to head out to the coast for the weekend. I planned to bring both of our sit-inside kayaks. One gets regular use. The other is stored in the backyard using the high tech set up seen below.
A few weeks later I assembled a mini-greenhouse on the deck so I can indulge in my hobby of growing cacti and succulents from seed and not have the seedlings dug up by squirrels or washed away in torrential rains. The next week I sowed a bunch of seeds and put them in the greenhouse. I had left out two panels on the greenhouse on the sides of the roof section to allow for ventilation in the hot summer.
All was well for 12 days. Late yesterday afternoon I opened the greenhouse to discover that one pot had been selected as a wren nest. About half of the soil had been removed from the pot and scattered throughout the greenhouse, dooming several dozen Kalanchoe rotundifolia seeds from ever germinating. The seeds are tiny in this species so there was no way I could find and retrieve them. Also in addition to the nesting material in the pot there were twigs and dried up catkins scattered around that whole side of the greenhouse.
After removing the nesting material and larger debris I draped a large fitted sheet over the top of the greenhouse as a temporary deterrent. Loud complaints were heard from the wrens for a while but eventually they started bringing more nesting material and used the pocket formed by the sheet's elastic as their new nest site. I pulled stuff out a couple of times but eventually stopped as I planned to replace the sheet with a more permanent barrier the next day.
This morning I bought some window screening and draped a long piece over the top and taped it in place. When it isn't so hot I'll cut pieces to fit and attach them to the greenhouse to cover the open areas.
When I pulled the sheet off I discovered that the wren pair had built a nest over a foot long and 3-4 inches in diameter of twigs, catkins, leaves and assorted debris. This had been done between 5 PM yesterday and 1130 this morning. Hopefully they will now give up on this spot and go back to light fixtures.
I went kayaking this AM on the lake for the first time in many months. I want up Meginnis Arm, a narrow extension of the lake extending south towards Tallahassee. Despite its proximity to urban areas (traffic on I-10 is clearly audible) it has a very quite secluded feel. Only a few houses are visible and in places you can almost believe you are in the wilderness.
I went all the way to the far south end of the arm which has a narrow channel that extends under the trees and goes to a small kayak/canoe only boat landing. Despite the high water the entrance to the channel was overgrown with aquatic vegetation and I had to muscle my way in. Also because of the high water the trees nearest the channel were in the water. As I proceeded down the channel there was suddenly an enormous splash off to the side and behind me which gave me quite a start. I figured it was a gator. I headed down to the end of the channel and then turned around and headed back. The channel is pretty small and I wanted to give the gator a chance to get clear.
When I got back out to the entrance I saw a very large gator in the water just out from the entrance. It's hard to estimate size from just the head but I'd guess eight feet. It swam slowly off to the left and then turned and swam to the right. Always moving slowly and keepings an eye on me. I was waiting for it to swim further away but it slowed and stopped after a few seconds. My guess is that it now had easy access to the central deep part of the arm. I had to pass it to head home, giving a wide berth. Its head slowly sank as I approached and speedily paddled back north.
I was a bit jumpy with splashes all the way back. I was also glad that the gator had waited until after I passed it to jump in. Otherwise I would have been between it and the open water in a narrow and fairly shallow channel.
All in all I'm glad that I wasn't scaring up Carolina Wrens while I was kayaking and alligators weren't attempting to nest in my greenhouse.
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