Despite the drought of 2016, the apple crop sure seemed to be bumper. Everyone I know who has them growing in their yards seems to agree. I wouldn’t know, but perhaps apple trees like a good dry spell every now and then. There are a dozen apple trees in the yard of my friend, Angela, near Warsaw. Her trees, too, were full of apples this year, like never before. In addition to attracting many insects as the fallen apples began to rot on the ground, and then deer mice and flying squirrels at night who were dining heavily on various moths and other insects – not to mention the frequent visits paid by deer in the low-light hours later in the season – two other animals appeared and feasted upon the fallen apples, too.
At night, a Porcupine (and sometimes two) have munched on the ground in spots where the heaviest fall of apples has covered the ground near a split-rail cedar fence. The visits by this creature where usually taking place in August, September, and October. Well then in daylight, starting in November, a Beaver (who had recently moved into my friend’s pond), has been coming up into the yard, and very near where his prickly friend had come at night. This creature has been enjoying the bounty of apples that had hung on to the branches until they fell much later in the season, after heavier frosts.
I suppose if you are an animal that typically eats very bitter things like the poplar twigs that Beavers seem to like, and the bark of conifers enjoyed by Porcupines, then every now and then these animals must satisfy a sweet-tooth craving with things like apples. Biologically speaking, it is likely quite a common occurrence and of a nutritional benefit, these two animals dining on fruit this much. And, as I understand, they had become quite addicted to the apples at my friend’s little orchard, as visits were very frequent while the apple supply lasted. In fact, they were so involved with their fruit fancy, that they both allowed me a close approach on a couple of occasions.
At about noon on December 8th, there was a Hermit Thrush in a cottage yard on South Bay of Stoney Lake. It seemed to be sticking to areas of fallen leaves that were not yet covered in snow, like underneath the edges of a large deck, and among the dead leaves gathered by wind just off the basement walk-out patio around the other side of the cottage. I had never seen one in December before. I hope it finds what it needs to manage this first snow storm of the winter. It would appear that I can leave the gardens be for now, until 2017! You think? Time for a different shovel, I suppose.
Tim Dyson, Stoney Lake