Because of the Memorial Day Holiday, I knew Flatwoods would be packed on Monday, so I had a great time monitoring the bluebird trail Tuesday instead. The birds have been very busy and we now have 84 fledglings (73 BB, 7 CC, 4 TM), 32 chicks and 24 eggs, all bluebird. We have three more second nestings in boxes F6, F41, and F43. See attached spreadsheet for details. I've attached pictures of bluebird chicks in boxes F17, F29, and F38.
Box F32 had a surprise in store today. A yellow rat snake had climbed up the post, slithered through a small opening between the mesh top and the stove pipe on the predator guard, and was on top of the mesh ready to climb in the box to eat the chicks. Fortunately, before that could happen, when he saw me, he crawled back through the small opening and when he did, I plugged up the small hole, preventing him from getting back through to the chicks. The stove top predator guards that we use are the most effective of all that we've tried, but unfortunately, they are not 100% fool proof. Whenever as snake does occasionally get through, I plug the whole immediately. Thankfully, this doesn't happen often. Hopefully the chicks in that box will fledge this week. One sad note is that Box 42 had dead chicks today that I removed. Usually when I find dead chicks, it means something has happened to the parents.
Wildlife was abundant today! I saw turkey and black vultures, osprey, a ruby-throated hummingbird in the native garden, ground doves, nine wood ducks, a great blue heron, an immature little blue heron, a great egret, three woodstorks, a northern parula, a great crested flycatcher (picture attached), a large alligator in one of the lakes, and a gopher tortoise (picture attached).
Our native garden is looking great and I've attached pictures of a couple of those plants, the firebush (Hamelia patens), and the necklace pod (Sophora tomentosa), that are the favorites of the ruby throated hummingbirds that visit the garden daily in the spring and summer. I've also attached a picture taken by Ranger Clint Perigard of a rare visitor to our garden, the black-chinned hummingbird, feasting on the necklace pod. Also attached is one of the beautiful white water lilies (Nymphaea ordorata) that is blooming all over our lakes, and one of the beautiful beardtongues (Penstemen multiflorus) that was covering one whole field.