Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Apple Blossom Time

When I took Jet for a walk this morning in the warm sunshine, I was amazed by the heavy, sweet scent of the apple blossoms.  It filled the air so completely, and each breath was like sipping a glass of spring wine.  As I walked down the driveway, my ears were also drenched with sound...the steady low hum of a thousand bees.  They were everywhere - on the apple blossoms, the choke cherry blossoms, the tiny white and purple blossoms of weeds in the grass, and on nearly every dandelion I could see.  Count the bees!

Unfortunately, Jet went charging into a bank of dandelions and ended up being stung by a bee.  I had to take my poor hound back to the house, remove the stinger, and give him lots of reassurance.  I thought he was going to lick his leg right off.

I went out with the camera afterwards to try to capture the delights of the day.  Unfortunately, I had to wear my mesh bug jacket.  Here in this part of the world, we have a lot of biting insects.  I wasn't worried about the bees, but the black flies were out in droves.  If you don't live in a place with black flies, you might think I was just talking about flies that are black.  No, that is not the case.  The black fly is an incredibly annoying little biting fly, worse than a mosquito.  They hover around your head and face and bite repeatedly.  As you'll read, if you check out this Wikipedia entry, black flies are a scourge in some parts of Canada, even causing livestock deaths due to their incessant biting.  My sheep and goats are miserable at this time of year with the bites they receive around their eyes, and there really isn't much I can do for them.  The "fly bait" traps and fly sprays don't work for black flies.  Very few repellents work at all, and those that do are only marginally effective.  So, I was "suited up" for my walk.  See those nasty bugs off to the right of my head?  Just can't escape those things!

Trying to see the little digital camera screen through the mesh is a challenge.  The mesh is very fine and therefore the screen is hard to see in much detail.  I took almost 200 photographs and had to weed through them and crop a few to get the pictures I was aiming for.  Still, I think you'll be able to enjoy the sights that I was seeing.  I just can't get enough of those apple blossoms. They start out as a deep rosy pink in bud form.

Then they burst open into a pale pink that becomes more and more white with age.

They are only here for a short time, but it's a beautiful time.

Last year, due to late frosts, the apple blossoms never came out for me.  I really didn't have any to speak of, and I think I saw about 20 apples total last fall on all my trees (about 10 or so).  This year, every tree is thickly covered with blossoms....hundreds and hundreds of them!

The bees were enjoying all the pollen they could fit onto their legs.  Here's a bee on a dandelion.  See his pollen "baggage" on his legs?

His pollen trousers remind me of water wings that children wear in swimming pools!

Then, there were the bees enjoying the apple blossoms, probably just as much as I was, if not more.  Here comes one from the right, choosing its blossom.  You can just see the wings.
Bee bum!  
 I love how this picture turned out.  The blossoms aren't the showiest, but the bee is great!
As I continued to walk around, I noticed another visitor in the apple trees.  I had a flock of cedar waxwings who were eating the blossom petals.  I didn't know they would eat petals, but after some research, I found out that they do.  Not a bad breakfast, for a bird!  The waxwings are a little bit secretive and furtive in their movements, so it was hard to photograph them, especially given my difficulty in seeing the screen, but I think you can see them well enough in these pictures to identify them.  There are three of them in this picture, if you can find them amongst all those blooms!

Here you can see that the bird on the left actually has a petal in its beak.
I managed to catch one in flight.
Unfortunately I didn't manage to get a picture showing those tiny red tips on their wing feathers, but they are still lovely birds.  I think there were about ten of them hopping about in the trees.

I was quite captivated with the beautiful show that nature put on for me this morning, despite the black flies. See, I am still smiling!


Anonymous said...

Those apple blossoms and bees are wonderful! I'm impressed with your semi-blind photography. I wish there was something you could do for you and the animals to keep those nasty flies away.

Unknown said...

Wonderful pics, Claire - especially the bees and the waxwings :)

Unknown said...

Wonderful pics, Claire - especially the bees and the waxwings :)

Patty Woodland said...

Shall we call you Morticia? Great shots of the flowers and bees

Michelle said...

You got great shots; hard to believe you were handicapped! And I am counting my blessings that we don't have black flies....

Melody said...

Oooooo, I LOOOOVE apple blossoms! I can't get enough, and take pictures of them every year, like I've never seen one before!!
Black flies on the other hand, I wouldn't mind never seeing again! Vile little things, you don't feel them land, and they drink your blood like little vampire bats, and the next thing you know you have an itchy ping pong ball size welt growing out of your forehead like a Cyclops! Your only hope of avoiding them is to stay inside, but then you miss apple blossom time and that would be horrible!
Great cedar waxwings, don't think I've ever seen one in person?
Nicely done pictures, despite being inside a bug net! :)))))

Alison said...

You got some great shots--isn't digital photography great? Didn't waste a penny on film!

I love apple blossoms too; one of my first really good pictures (with a 110 camera!) was of our blooming apple tree against a blue spring sky.

And I think I've experienced those black flies along the shores of Lake Erie. We had lots of deer flies at home, but those black flies were aggressive, and they hurt!