"And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress and keep it". Genesis 2:15

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Parrot Sighting, Swarming Ants, Aphids and Termites

Everyday as I work in my garden I have been hearing a parrot squawking in nearby trees, but I could never see more than a gray blur as it flew by. Today I got up early to weed before it got hot and I took my binoculars with me. I finally got to see it well enough to get a description and look it up on the net, and I found out it is a Quaker Parrot! They come from South America and are wild now in several states. I am sure it is a Quaker because we know where it is making its huge nest of very large twigs about half a block from here on top of a telephone pole.

We went out to take a picture of the nest and the bird showed up. It was quite friendly and let us get close while it bobbed its head and squawked quietly. This makes me think it might be an escaped pet. The sad thing is that they are communal birds who live in large shared nests containing up to 40 birds, and the poor thing is making a nest all by itself. Im also thinking this might be a bad thing since in addition to eating seeds, they also eat fruits and vegetables. It is fascinating though, they are very friendly and will share their nests with other birds and even squirrels!

While I was weeding I saw that my tomatoes needed some tying up and pruning, so I got to work on that, only to be stopped by a swarm of ants that erupted out of the soil as I touched the last tomato in the row. Possibly they were fire ants but I didn't get close enough to find out. Most of them had wings and were climbing up and launching themselves from the top of the tomato. Some of them were falling back down on top of me, so I retreated to the garage to find something organic to kill them with. I couldn't find anything and by the time I got back most of the winged ones had gone. The others were still all stirred up so I had to wait awhile before I could get back to that tomato - carefully!

I also discovered that my lima beans have been almost devoured by a combination of ants and aphids while I was gone. All the other plants are fine. I know a good method for getting rid of aphids listed below in another post, but the problem is that I don't have any yellow margarine tubs since we never eat the stuff! I'll have to figure out something to use. Yellow really works best.

The termites come in to play in that they have been eating the supporting wood structure of the rotating composter my Dad made to the point where it has fallen apart. (I didn't realize this of course until it would no longer work.) I needed to move it anyway to make room for expanding the garden, so, since it is very heavy Anna had to help me move it. While doing this we found two large leopard geckos, a termite tube, and a gigantic grub at least 4 inches long and as wide as a thumb, that escaped down a hole. I dont know what the grub was, but it was ugly! Now I have a new project for Garry, which is to make a new and better (termite proof) support for the composter. Next I need to learn how to make compost!

Well that was my morning! By 11:00 it was too hot, so I quit the outdoors for indoor pursuits.

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