Saturday, February 15, 2014

Weekend Walkabout: Opuntia, Dahlia, and Fish Crow

Our only native cactus, the Opuntia, or Prickly Pear, is in full bloom on the dune. What a weird bloom it is!
But don't go picking those alien flowers and fruit without thick gloves; the glochids will get you!
Though most of my friends and family are enduring Snowball Earth, this time of year in the subtropics is the best for hiking, and searching for the Elusive Skunk Ape! Here's a view of a local "pine island" I took:

"Pine Island", MR 2014
One of my spring gardening adventures this year is the Dinnerplate Dahlia. Technically, they are not supposed to grow on sand dunes (we had winds of 50mph, about 100kph two nights ago) but I grew Russian Mammoth Sunflowers last year, so what the hey! The bulbs are coming alive, after being about 2 weeks in the ground....
The local Fish Crows (Corvus ossifragus) are looking askance at my weird gardening attempts....
Fish Crows, not American Crows
How do you tell a Fish Crow from a regular American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)? Easy. Ask a Fish Crow anything at all. They will always respond with a loud "Nuh-Uh!" For example, I asked them just this morning, "Can I grow Dinnerplate Dahlias on this sand dune?" They both cocked their heads and said, "Nuh-Uh!!" But who takes the advice of a Fish Crow?? ;-) 
Happy weekend gardening!

Note: Fish Crows live throughout the US southeast. They are smaller than regular crows and have a very distinctive voice. They do not "caw", they "uh-uh". If you're not sure which crow you are talking with, ask it if it is a regular American Crow. If it says, "Nuh-uh", you know you've found a Fish Crow!

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