Apples!

Apples ©Kim Smith 2014 copyFrom Blossom to Fruit ~ With all the delicious smells associated, from the heavenly sweet scent of apple blossoms wafting on the breeze of a bright spring day to the fresh aroma of fruit ripening in the warm September sun, not to mention pies and tarts baking in the oven!

Apple Blossom ©Kim Smith 2012Have you noticed that the foliage of pear, cherry, and apple trees looks exceptional this year? This is a far cry from the past several years when the winter moth took a tremendous toll on the trees. The very cold winter of last has put a damper on the moths devastating effects. A repeat of cold temperatures will give the trees and shrubs, such as maple, blueberry, and apple, which are most heavily afflicted by the moths, a second season to recover and grow in strength.

Read previous posts about the winter moth here:

White-throated Sparrow and the Winter Moth

winter-moth-operophtera-brumataWinter Moth (Operophtera brumata)

Hummingbird Fall Banquet

Crimson-eyed Rose mallow ©Kim Smith 2014Native Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moshuetos)

Fall Blooms for Tiny Travelers ~ just as we can create milkweed corridors in summer and aster corridors in autumn for the Monarchs, we can provide a nourishing banquet for the weary Ruby-throated Hummingbirds so that they may rest and refuel on their southward migration.

Lonicera John Clayton. ©Kim Smith 2010.Native Honeysuckle ~ Lonicera sempervirens ‘John Clayton’

Jewelweed ©Kim Smith 2014Native Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

Hibiscus ©Kim Smith 2014jpgHibiscus 

Kim Smith Guest Speaker at the Rockport Garden Club Monday, October 6th

Rockport Garden Club ©Kim Smith 2014Sign Posted at the Rockport Community Center Garden

Next Monday afternoon at the Community House I will be presenting my “Pollinator Garden” program to the Rockport Garden Club. I am looking forward to meeting with this great group of civic-minded gardeners. I see their signs all around town at the various gardens they maintain and they do a simply outstanding job! The program begins at 1:15 and the doors open to the public at 1:00.

The Pollinator Garden

Following the rhythm of the seasons, celebrated landscape designer Kim Smith presents a stunning slide show and lecture demonstrating how to create a welcoming haven for bees, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Native plants and examples of organic and architectural features will be discussed based on their value to particular vertebrates and invertebrates.

Please visit the Programs Page of visit my website for a complete list of program offerings.

Whirling Butterflies (Gaura lindheimeri) ©Kim Smith 2014Whirling Butterflies (Gaura lindheimeri) at the Rockport Community House and Senior Center

Gaura is not a only a fabulous drought tolerant plant for the water-wise garden, it is also a caterpillar food plant for the beautiful day-flying White-lined Sphinx Moth.

Hummingbird-Hawk-Moth-Life-CycleGraphic Source: Animalbook.org

White-lined_sphinxAbove White-lined Sphinx Moth image courtesy wiki commons media.

The Rockport Community House is located at 58 Broadway, Rockport.

Looking for Monarchs ~ Fall 2014 Monarch Migration Update

There have been many inquires in my inbox asking “where are the monarchs?” I’ve been checking in my garden and along the shoreline and haven’t seen any travelers as of yet however, we have reason to be hopeful that this year’s migration will be better than last year’s. Based on reports coming from the mid-west, the migration has begun and the numbers are higher than what was reported in September 2013 for that region.

Monarch Butterfly ©Kim Smith 2012-1Look for Monarchs in your garden, and also in fields, meadows, and along the shore nectaring at native wildflowers, such as different species of goldenrods and asters.

Reminder ~ Screening of my documentary Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly and Lecture is this coming Saturday, September 20th, at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. I hope to see you there! For details see recent post here.

Niles Beach Sunset

Niles Beach Boston skyline Gloucester sunset ©Kim Smith 2014The late summer sunset began quietly, in soft shades of coral rose and lavender blue. The sky’s light swiftly transformed to a riotous rainbow of super saturated hues.Niles Beach Gloucester ma sunset ©Kim Smith 2014

Click image below to view larger panorama.

Niles Beach Gloucester Ma sunset panorama ©Kim Smith 2014Niles Beach

Endangered Pied-billed Grebe Encounter

In the dim light of daybreak at first glance I thought the diminutive duck was somehow related to the female mallard. Both were inconspicuous and camouflaged amongst the cattails. Mrs. Mallard was preening and standing on one leg, a thing birds do to regulate their body temperature, and Mystery Duck was actively diving all around her. As the light grew brighter with the rising sun it was easy to see that they weren’t at all akin; Mystery Duck’s bill was shorter and chunkier when compared to the Mallard’s bill, Mystery was half her size, and its perky cotton white tail feathers were unmissable. The Mallard flew off eventually and our Mystery then traveled away, deeply diving and then reemerging some distance further, staying close to the shoreline and always well hidden.

Pied-billed Grebe Massachusetts mallard ©kim Smith 2014Side-by-side comparison: Pied-billed Grebe, left, female Mallard, right.

The Pied-billed Grebe is rarely seen breeding in Massachusetts any longer and is listed as endangered in nearly every New England state. Rhode Island considers the Pied-billed extirpated (locally extinct). The reason for their decline is low breeding numbers and wetland degradation. Their feathers are thick and soft and were used to make hats and earmuffs during the 19th century. Wantonly hunted to near extinction, Pied-billed Grebes never fully recovered in our region. As wetlands have given way to development, the Pied-billed Grebe’s numbers continue to decline dramatically. They are extremely sensitive to human disturbances, and, too, are less likely to be seen as it is a nocturnal bird, traveling mostly during the night.

Pied-billed Grebe Massachusetts -2 ©kim Smith 2014Fluffy Cottontail

A fun fact about the marsh-nesting Pie-billed is that both male and female contribute to building what at first appears to be a floating nest in vegetation, near open water. The nest is actually a platform anchored to plant stalks.

I wonder if this Pied-billed is a fall migrant or if on Niles Pond, Pied-billed Grebes were nesting this season. Has anyone else documented or seen a Pied-billed Grebe at Niles Pond during the past few months?

Niles Pond Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014Niles Pond is Ideal Pied-billed Grebe Habitat

See previous GMG post for more information about why birds stand on one leg.

See more photos and audio links here ~

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